Densus, the Oldest Stone Church in Romania

Densus, the oldest Stone Church in Romania

The Saint Nicholas Church in Densus is the oldest stone church in Romania, located 15 kilometers west of Hateg in Hunedoara county. We managed to finally visit it on a rainy day last September. We couldn’t find anybody to let us in, however, the church’s exterior and story are both highly impressive, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Densus, the oldest Stone Church in Romania

One of the most fascinating facts about the church is that its origins are highly debated. Some historians proclaim that the edifice was built on top of an old temple serving the Roman god of Mars. Others argue that it was constructed atop an old Mausoleum of a fallen Roman General. Some specialists affirm it was built way back in the 7th century, whilst others say it was finished in the 13th century. I’ve also found a few sources citing the 16th century as the church’s date of origin. But one thing’s for sure: it is definitely the oldest church in the entire country in which church service is still being held every Sunday.

Densus, the oldest Stone Church in Romania

Saint Nicholas Church boasts architectural elements from the late Romanesque period, along with some early Gothic details. Its pillars, statues and some of its rocks were brought in from Ulpia Traiana Sarmisegetusa, the capital of Roman Dacia. Its walls and towers are guarded by lions, which is a unique feat in religious architecture in Romania.

Densus, the oldest Stone Church in Romania

Densus, the oldest Stone Church in Romania

Once inside, travelers can admire a valuable mural dating from the 15th century, decorating the main altar. It was painted by an artist who signed all his work Stefan and is currently referred to as Stephen, the Painter by historians. Densus church also boasts traditional Byzantine iconography decorated with folkloric elements. I was really disappointed that we couldn’t actually enter the church, but I am positive we will be back!

Densus, the oldest Stone Church in RomaniaThroughout history various religious groups used the church. At first Calvinists met for their religious sermon, followed shortly by the Romanian Greek Catholics. Since 1948 the Orthodox church uses it as its religious center.

Densus, the oldest Stone Church in RomaniaWe visited Densus church on our way home from the Portile de Fier Natural Park and the Famous Bigar Falls. The religious edifice is also close to Hunedoara and Deva, besides the city of Hateg.

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Densus, the oldest Stone Church in Romania

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