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The Annunciation Church, in the lower city

The Annunciation Church, on Călăraşi Street in the lower city, was the first church built by the Orthodox Romanians of Alba Iulia following the promulgation of the edict of tolerance by Emperor Joseph II on 29 November 1781. Known as “the Greeks’ church”, it was built by the Romanians living in Lipoveni neighborhood, who reembraced Orthodoxy in the second half of the eighteenth century, with financial support from Aromanian tradesmen living in Alba Iulia. Their former church had remained the property of the Greek-Catholic Romanians.

We learn from the notes of Rubin Patiția (1841-1918), written in the late nineteenth century and drawing upon local oral tradition, that the situation of the Orthodox Romanians from Lipoveni neighborhood was quite difficult after they lost their former church to the Greek-Catholic Romanians. For almost two decades, they used a barn instead of a church. Moreover, they were also persecuted by the city authorities.

It was against this background that the construction of the Annunciation Church started, presumably soon after the promulgation of the edict of tolerance, most probably at the beginning of 1782. The same author stated that the construction work advanced quickly, due in part to the financial support offered by companies owned by Aromanian tradesmen in the city. There are two silver objects, a candle and a censer, preserved in the church, on which are written the name “Manu Karandoni de la Melinik” (Manu Karandoni from Melinik) and the years 1768 and 1794. It is conceivable that the two dates represented important moments in the life of the parochial community, and that the second could be the year construction was completed or the new church consecrated. Another argument in favor of this hypothesis is an inscription of the date 1794 located in the middle of the church tower on the southern side. The inscription has disappeared, but we can still see it in the photograph.

The church is small in size and was constructed exclusively of bricks. It is a hall-type church, with a rectangular nave and a bell tower on the western side, covered with a pyramidal tin roof. Circular spots and dials for a clock that was never mounted penetrated all four sides of the bell tower below the roof. The dials had painted Roman numbers and were protected by a broad embrasure. In the central points, the dials had quadrangular orifices. As can be seen in the photo, on the tin roof above the southern dial, the year 1893 was written: perhaps the date of repairs made to the roof of the bell tower, or maybe that of the execution of the dials.

The nave had four covered bays, three of them with sail vaults and one semi cylindrical. Another sail vault is found on the ground floor of the bell tower. The apse is covered by a half dome with penetrations above the windows.

The church has an icon of the Savior, worked by Simon Bălgrădeanul, dated 19 April 1783. This icon may have been brought from their former church, or could have belonged to the first iconostasis of the new church, which was replaced by a new one worked by a team of painters led by Simion Silaghi in the first decades of the nineteenth century.

Of the mural painted in the second half of the nineteenth century, nowadays only a few fragments remain in the altar, on the lower part of the wall, depicting the faces of some church Fathers, such as St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Theodore of Tars. The present painting dates from 1957. Near the church was a cemetery and a confessional school.

In 1870, an assembly gathered in the school for the establishment of the Alba Iulia division of the Transylvanian Association for the Culture of the Romanian People (ASTRA). (C.A.)