Transylvania is an important tourist attraction due to a varied relief and the cultural and religious diversity. In recent years, passionate travelers have been revealed wonderful places with beautiful people.
Today I will tell you about such a place: the Cistercian Abbey from Cârța. Until recently, the word ”cistercian” wasn’t in my vocabulary, so I’ve documented and here’s what I found out!
The Cistercian originates from the French town of Citeaux, called Cistercium in Latin. Here, in 1098, the Cistercian monastic order was founded by a group of monks dissatisfied with monastic life in the Molesme abbey. Initially they lived according to St. Benedict’s rules, remarked by humility, diligence and community spirit.
In the twelfth century the Cistercian monks spread to Europe, the abbeys of Cârţa and Igniş being the most eastern of all. Originally, the Cârţa Abbey was made of wood, but a few years later, the monks raised a Gothic-style building with the help of some French stone workers. This style is said to have been the source of inspiration for the fortified churches in Transylvania.
The monks were caring for poor and sick people and helped to improve farming practices in the area. However, it seems that in the fifteenth century, St. Benedict’s rules were no longer respected. Abbey had become rich, the monks being the owners of the only mill in the area and a vineyard. In 1474, the King Matei Corvin abolished the abbey as a result of local villagers’ complaints.
Why did I like this abbey?
First, I was surprised by the form of the monastery, with typical Gothic-style windows and the Romanic column framed in the semicircular arcade.
The garden of the monastery containing the tombstone of Franz Pindur (1864-1904), a painter and graphic artist, originally from the area, is well-organized and full of flowers.
There is a Baroque pipe organ in the church dating back to 1777. I liked that I could climb the stairs to it.
The Bell tower, built in the fifteenth century by the famous stonecutter Andreas Lapicida from Sibiu, offers a beautiful panorama of the village. The narrow and spiral staircases as well as the pigeons disturbed by our appearance brought a note of suspense.
Good faith of the custodian. When I arrived at the abbey, I noticed that the gate was locked. Finally, I found another entry where more than one phone number was displayed. I called and in ten minutes a lady came. She handed us the keys, asking us that when we leave to let the keys to the priest’s house.
Accessibility. The abbey is three kilometers from the main road Sibiu – Fagaras. There are signs, so you will not be lost!
There are panels with clear information at the place. It can be visited daily from 9am to 6pm and the ticket price, in October 2017, were 5 lei for adults and 2.5 lei for children and pensioners.
There is a small museum and a café in the courtyard of the abbey but we could not enjoy them because they were closed. But we admired the locals’ efforts to value their past.