Aug 19

A PIECE OF JEWELRY IN HATEG, ROMANIA: DENSUS CHURCH (BISERICA DENSUȘ)

A road in Hateg County does not mean only the bison reservation or the famous Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa. Well, maybe if you go to Hateg and want to visit something, the two objectives above will be rightly top the list. However, remember that the area has one of the most beautiful churches in Romania, so after you pass Hateg swerve out of the way on a distance of 10 kilometers and reach the village of Densus; you will be amazed of what you will discover.

You find the church very easily once you get there. You enter the gate (is should always be open, if not, you can call a neighbor to bring the key), climb the stairs which goes across a small orchard which is  prolonged in a cemetery and you will immediately notice the old architectural gem arising beautifully towards the sky – a place of worship dating since the dawn of Medieval times. If you’re lucky enough to get to Densus in a sunny day, you will notice immediately the beautiful contrast between the old walls and the blue sky. The church has a blurry history: it looks like a mausoleum that was initially raised by the Romans in honor of General Longinus Maximus, who perished in the battle against the Dacians. Other versions talk about the fact that this place would have been a place which housed a temple even before the arrival of Roman legions. Recent discoveries reveal that the church of Densus has only about 800 years old, dating from the 13th century.

The first thing that strikes you when you get near it is the material of construction. the church seems made of heterogeneous pieces. Polished stone dominates, but at its base there are the supporting Roman columns and vertical boulders (materials from Sarmizegetusa) – and you would think that at the construction there were more artists who have contributed, considering the different styles and different ideas; however, the entire result is superb and one of a kind. It is true that the building was restored in 2000, but wisely it does not live you this impression it any second; the patine of time is very obvious and it adds a lot to its charm. The entry is free and the priest seems a great and kind man, we learned that he had opposed the visitation fee. Sunday sermons are still kept at the church, which made it famous and people started writing about it and it’s probably true that the Densus Church is the oldest church in Romania where sermons have been taking place for such a long time.

The interior is narrower than you could imagine, simplicity is the essential word: four central columns, supported by huge slabs where you can admire numerous old inscriptions. On one wall there is a painting on a blue background, which is dating from the first half of the 15th century, signed simply with the name “Stefan”. But what is truly great about this place is the atmosphere that envelops the surroundings. An incredible feeling of peace is veiling you from the moment you climb the first  stairs and, as you cover the church with your gaze and surround it with your steps and enter inside the edifice, you abandon your previous thoughts that kept you connected to the contemporary everyday stress of the reality and get back to a forgotten time of still peace and atemporal serenity. All these things make the little church of Densus a real jewel of Hateg County.

Photo source:

Picture 1: panoramio.com; Picture 2: ro.wikipedia.com; Picture 3: panoramio.com; Picture 4: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 5: medievistica.ro; Picture 6: dan.romascanu.net; Picture 7: adevarul.ro