Dârjiu (Hungarian: Székelyderzs) is a commune in Harghita County, Romania comprising of 2 villages: Dârjiu and Mujna. The commune has an absolute Szekler (Székely - Hungarian) majority (98.3%) and it is situated 18 km away from Sighişoara on a county road. Szeklers are a Hungarian ethnic group mostly living in the counties of Harghita, Covasna and a part of Mureş counties. Dârjiu was first mentioned in writing in 1334, but on its present territory have been discovered early human traces dating from the neolithic age.
The village of Dârjiu is home to a 13th century fortified church, which is today Unitarian, and is on UNESCO's World Heritage Sites List. Unitariansm was an official religion in Transylvania from the 1583 Mediaş (Hungarian: Medgyes) parliament. The first bishop was Ferenc Dávid, a local Hungarian-speaking Saxon.
Formerly built in the Romanesque style (14th and 15th centuries), the Church acquired a Gothic aspect in 1640, under the rule of Transylvania's prince György Rákóczi I (1630-1648). Fortified in 1400, it has a rectangular precinct with high walls, strengthened by five towers. The Gate Tower preserves its original aspect, with massive masonry pierced by loop-holes provided with wooden shutters. The fortified church was embellished by Gothic rib vaults; unfortunately, the rib embedding process damaged many of the original murals dating from 1419.
The fortified storey covers both the nave and the choir, while the parapet of the wall-walk supported on corbels is placed over the buttresses. This set-up facilitates the wide opening of the loop-holes below the cornice. Although designed for utility purposes, these loop-holes have a special decorative effect. So has the stairway to the organ, dating from 1837. Placed on the eastern side of the building, the stairway is massively carved in rigorously cut planes. The church has the overall aspect of a bastion, with a high roof and no towers. The precinct is covered by an inner roof below which can be seen the supply cells where the villagers have stored their hams to the day. The church has a big bell dating from 1612, which was donated to it by Ioan Petki, a general in the Székelys' army and a chancellor of Transylvania. In the northwestern corner of the church there is a deep fountain that used to supply water during wars.
The fortified church at Dârjiu is well-known due to its murals discovered in 1887. Their author is master painter Paul, Stephen of Ung's son, born in Slovakia. Educated in an eclectic environment, the painter would blend the Gothic and the Italian Renaissance styles. The artist depicted himself on one of the frescoes. Close to him, on a flag that waves somewhere over his head, there is an inscription in Latin written in Gothic small letters which says "This work was done and prepared by master painter Paul, son of Stephen of Ung, fourteen nineteen A.D. I was writing and thinking of a beautiful girl". This text shows the artist's surprising freedom of expression, as well as the fact that in 1419, the Transylvanian society was not at all far from the Renaissance spirit.
Unfortunately, very few of the initial murals have been preserved to the day. Most of them were effaced when the bracket rib vaults were built, by the end of the 15th century, and also, later on, in the 17th century, when a gallery was added. Murals depict Apostle Paul's Conversion, the Martyrdom of the 10,000, as well as several likenesses of sanctified bishops. The most valuable paintings are those relating to King Ladislas' Legend (In the Pursuit of the Cumanian, The Wrestle, The Cumanian's Defeat and Killing, Ladislas' Rest). The frescoes inside the church are considered the most impressive creations from medieval Transylvania.
The villagers keep their grains in the fortress even today. The same with the ham, bacon, lard and smoked pork products, which are kept in the bastions. As concerns the grains, they can take them home every morning but the pork products only once a week (Internet infos compilation).
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