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Panoramas / Churches and belfries

Reformed Fortress Church

Ilieni

The fortress church of Illyefalva was considered to be one of those fortresses that formed a defensive line along the southern border of Transylvania in the middle Ages. At the beginning of the 14th century the village used to be one of the most significant settlements in Háromszék. In 1567 documents mentioned 62 houses the owners of which regularly paid taxes, this data making it one of the most populous settlements in Háromszék.

At the beginning of the 14th century there used to be a small church built in Romanesque style. Later, around 1443, a bigger one was built in its place in Gothic style. The final construction was built in 1782-1785, whose greatest elements of construction are a nave, a sanctuary and a gallery placed in the western part of the church. The former seats were changed by newer ones.

The outside of the church is simple, its southern and northern parts are supported by buttresses made of brick and covered with tile. The entrance opening in the southern and western parts are covered with a porch provided with Baroque arches. Formerly, the church of Illyefalva used to be surrounded by the walls of two forts: nowadays tourists can see only the walls of the external one, the existence of the inner one is revealed by the ruins placed at the two sides of the bell tower. 

First the internal fort was constructed some time at the turn of the 15th-16th centuries; the external walls were built in the 17th century after the Saxon sieges that took place in 1612. The design of the fort is pentangular, on the corners there are bastions as well as watchtowers that used to provide the security of the fort. Some years later, in 1658 the Turkish-Tartar armies invaded Transylvania, and their first prey was Szeklerland and Barcaság. After besieging the fort for five days, they finally captured it, its inhabitants were partly slaughtered, partly taken into captivity, and the fort was eventually burnt to the ground. In the middle of the 19th century the biggest part of the internal fort was still safe, there were 118 chambers along the walls of the external fort, good for storage. Nowadays there is only one such storing basement, placed on the left side of the gate tower.

The complete restoration of the fort took place only after the change of the political regime in 1989, it is this period when the building received new functions at the initiatives of Reformed pastor Kato Béla. Four of the bastions have become accommodation for the youth; one of them has been transformed into a theatre stage.

The front part of the galleries and benches inside the church are decorated with panels having floral patterns that date back to the 18th century. The sunken paneled ceiling, also decorated with floral patterns, was painted by Kovács Kázmér in 1991.




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