open menu

Photo Gallery (click to enlarge)

Holy Trinity Church in Maieri II

Located in the Lower City, on Iașilor Street, the Holy Trinity Church was the first stone church built by Romanians in Alba Iulia, and was constructed in the eighteenth century. It was built in the new area of the outer city which was developing on the eastern side of the terrace on which the Vauban fortification was built in 1715-1738.

The Maieri neighbourhood appeared on the southern side of the German neighbourhood, an area where the gardens of well-off inhabitants of Alba Iulia previously existed (its name derives from the word “măieriște”, meaning garden). In the early stages, the Maieri and Heiuș neighbourhoods, which were inhabited by serfs, were not part of the privileged city, and were collectively referred to as “Alba Iulia Village”. Until the nineteenth century the neighbourhood extended towards southwest, and from 1852, according to Rubin Patiția (1848-1918), it became part of the city. The entire area between the railway station and the Palace of Justice was called Maieri.

The Holy Trinity Church in Maieri II was erected in 1713. It was located in the south-eastern extremity of the new settlement, near the German neighbourhood, on a relatively high plot which was not exposed to floods. The church was constructed partly using materials recovered from the former complex of building belonging to the Orthodox metropolitan seat, and partly using the sum of 1,300 florins offered by the authorities in compensation for the demolition of the Orthodox buildings.

The church possessed numerous icons, liturgical vestments and other cultic objects originating from the former metropolitan seat, and its cemetery was the final resting place of Atanasie Anghel, the first Greek Catholic bishop, whose earthly remains were moved to Blaj in the summer of 2013, 200 years after his death.

Although its material and financial resources were not negligible, the first stage of the church to be built, according to contemporaries, was rather small and dark and had a feeble foundation. It did, however, have a beautiful iconostasis, produced in 1716-1717 by Hieromonk Iosif from Hurez. The construction was enlarged between 1720 and 1725, when the nave was extended westwards and a narthex added. Before the mid-eighteenth century, the church was decorated with a painted mural.

The religious disturbances of 1759-1761, stirred by Sofronie’s movement, also affected the church. Both Romanian confessional groups – Orthodox and Greek Catholic – claimed ownership of the church. The winners were the latter. On 6 July 1671, General Adolf von Buccow gave the building to the twenty-one families which remained Uniate (i.e. Greek Catholic).

Not much later, on the western side of the church, a massive quadrangular bell tower was erected. During the same period, in the time of Bishop Petru Pavel Aron (1752-1764), a building was constructed to serve as monastery for about twelve monks. It was into this building that Grigore Maior withdrew in 1782 after he was forced to renounce the function of bishop, and he remained there to the end of his life, in 1785. The monastery building was later used as a school, which had been functioning at the church in Maieri since 1754.

The church has an apse towards east and the tower bell is on the western side. The apse is semi-circular from the inside and polygonal on the outside and is covered by a semi-hemisphere, while the rectangular nave is covered by a semi cylindrical vault. The church was built from bricks, stone and Roman and medieval materials which are visible in the walls of the church. The church is decorated by two brick girdles, arranged obliquely in a saw-toothed pattern, surrounding the upper part of the church, one below the cornice and the other above the windows. The nave and the apse are covered by a tiled roof and the bell tower is covered with a Baroque tin roof.

There is only one fragment still extant from the original painting, preserved on the western wall of the nave. It depicts the scene of the ecumenical synod of Nicaea in 787. Sadly, the original iconostasis, painted by Hieromonk Iosif of Hurez, has been lost. In 1925, the former monastery building suffered radical changes and was transformed into the parish priest’s house. (C. A.)