Sibiu Lutheran Church

The Lutheran Cathedral of Saint Mary (German: Evangelische Stadtpfarrkirche in Hermannstadt) was finished in 1520 on the place of an old Romanic basilica from the 12th century. With five pointed towers, it is one of the most impressive buildings in Sibiu, the main tower is nearly 74 m high, the tallest building in Transylvania. In front of the cathedral is the statue of Georg Daniel Teutsch, Bishop of Sibiu, erected in 1899.

The simple, stark interior is in total contrast to that of the Catholic Church. The gray stone walls create an austere atmosphere that is slightly mitigated by exuberant carving in the vaulting and in the stone epitaphs that are fixed to a wall on the north side of the nave. A gigantic fresco (over 9 m high), painted by Johannes of Rosenau (Rozenaw) in 1445, covers much of the north wall of the chancel. The mural shows the Crucifixion and marks a transition in painting from the coldly late Gothic to the more human concern of the Renaissance. At the top of the fresco are the Royal Hungarian insignia with the apostolic cross of Silesia, the Bohemian vulture and a lion rampant. Below the fresco, Rosenau depicted Hungary's two first Christian kings: Stephen, shown with a scepter and Ludovic with an axe. To the north of the crossing is polyptych inspired from Albrecht Durer's Tormentions, completed in the first quarter of the 16th century.

The cathedral has a choir loft on the south side with a beautiful fan-vaulted ceiling. There is as well an immense Baroque organ, the biggest from South-East Europe, designed by a German master (J. West) in 1671. Six thousands pipes were installed in 1914 (by Wilhelm Sauer from Frankfurt) and in 1997 was reinstalled the great organ of the church.

In 1448 the church was enlarged westwards through the construction of the Ferula (The Galilee). The aspect of the church was changed on the southern side after 1474, when the church was decided to be turned into a hall-church. Thus the southern side was over-raised and in inside a lateral loft appeared, provided with a ribbed vault. In 1494 the tower of the church was finished and over-raised with two more levels. The last part built was the little tower with a cork screw staircase raised in 1520.
On the northern and southern church porches are two doorway framings. The southern doorway is dated 1457 and the northern one is dated 1520. On the southern facade of the choir, over a Gothic door, it is embedded a relief with the theme 'Prayer on the Mountain of the Olives'.

The movable inventory of the church is especially valuable. Even if many of the gold or silver religious objects, works belonging to well-known artists from Sibiu (as Sebastian Hann), are not accessible to the public, other remarkable pieces can be admired in the church. Inside the choir, there is one of the most beautiful bronze fonts in the country. It has the shape of a chalice, decorated with inscriptions on Gothic capital and small letters. On its surface, there are 228 plaquettes in relief. The font is the work of the artist Leonhardus, from 1438. Tradition pleads for its being moulded from the bronze of the Turkish cannons captured by the inhabitants of Sibiu in 1437.

The church was also a burial place for many personalities of Sibiu. In 1853 the gravestones covering their graves were taken down from the nave of the church and embedded in the walls of the galilee (ferula), getting out a unique pile in Romania. There are 67 gravestones. The oldest gravestones are those of the mayors Nicolaus Proll and Georg Hecht, both dead in 1499. The two stones are in red marble. The galilee also preserves a wooden statuary group entitled 'Jesus between two angels' (16-th century). There also exists the previous pulpit of the church, datable at the end of the 15-th century, probably executed by Andreas Lapicida.