Romania: Europa Nostra and the EIB to save churches in Transylvania and Oltenia

Romania: Europa Nostra and the EIB to save churches in Transylvania and Oltenia

Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute are running a plan aimed at saving and restoring wooden churches in southern Transylvania and northern Oltenia in Romania, listed among “The 7 Most Endangered’ heritage” sites in Europe, following a nomination by the national heritage NGO Pro Patrimonio Foundation.

Rescue Mission in Almasu Mic, Boz, Tarnavita and Ursi, Romania

In their technical and financial report, the independent experts state that this conservation project “is worthy of support” and stress that “action on many fronts is required soon”. They recommend the creation of a steering committee of representatives of the key parties as a first step; advocate greater involvement from the owner, the Romanian Orthodox Church, and various Government Ministries; and argue that several financing possibilities need to be explored, the main one being from the EU Structural & Investment Funds.

“The programme is relatively modest – the approximate total cost is 2.5 million euros – and could make a considerable impact in terms of preserving the unique cultural and religious heritage in these rural areas. It would also provide jobs which use traditional skills and enhance the tourism interest. Thus it is worthy of support, and action on many fronts is required soon as delay will only aggravate the situation,” reads the report led by Peter Bond, Technical Consultant provided by the European Investment Bank Institute.

The programme comprises a total of 74 wooden churches, dating from the 18th-19th centuries, the majority of which are located in the counties of Hunedoara, Sibiu, Vâlcea and Gorj. These religious buildings were selected taking into account various criteria: urgency of the work, potential use, heritage value, tourism interest and local support. Most of the churches will be used by the community, as places of worship and/or as sociocultural centres, and there is generally heritage value and tourism interest in these buildings.

Efficient management of the programme implementation is a key to its success. “In the short term, Pro Patrimonio may be able to continue acting as the effective promoter, coordinator and project manager, but a more structured, integrated and comprehensive approach is needed in the longer term. This requires greater involvement and commitment from the owner, the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the Ministries of Culture, Tourism and Agriculture and Rural Development. The exact modus operandi needs to be discussed and agreed between the parties and this needs to be put in place soon. The formation of a steering committee of representatives from the key parties is a recommended first step,” it is stressed.

Pro Patrimonio Foundation

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