Turism in Scaunul Rupea
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The Unitarian Fortified Church in Ioneşti

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Starting from a different demographic nucleus, the settlement changed its initial population almost completely: the Saxons disappeared and the Hungarians represent the majority. The “Eyanis village” attested in 1334 ended up, in 1448, as Janosfalva. The latter might derive from the church’s patron saint (John).

The settlement holds one of the most richly decorated Gothic churches in the area. In its present shape, it dates to the first part of the sixteenth century but the parish existed already a century earlier. Several re-used stones, included in the present-day walls, indicate that the initial building was destroyed and its building material re-used for the new construction. The tabernacle niche and the stone baptismal font, typical to the Early Gothic, were probably part of the initial church as well. Anyway, the choir that is almost as large as the nave proves that it was the core of an unfinished ambitious building program in which the nave, certainly more ancient, was to adapt to the proportions of the new choir. The ogee triumphal arch was elegantly cut into in order to make room for a pulpit. The impressive decoration of the rib vault, with ogees but without keystones, has been preserved. The vault descends into the nave towards simple corbels, decorated with toruses, while in the altar the corbels are all decorated with different figural motifs inscribed in shields. One finds among these motifs recognizable heraldic representations, but also mysterious ones, rosettes, and animal depictions. One must note the remarkable depictions of pilgrim signs and a squirrel. One of the corbels preserves the engraved inscription stating when the choir was built: 1522. The windows and outer buttresses only preserve traces of their medieval decoration. Not much can be said about the bell tower, since it was “wrapped” in a restoration inscribed 1821. According to all appearances, it might be medieval as well.

The visitor can delight in watching, especially on the upper part of the altar’s northern wall, a group of paintings also contemporary to the vaults. Though none of the freshness of the original colors has been preserved, except for the pastel green, the religious scenes depicted there will become an added attraction at the end of the recently started restoration works. The church has painted liturgical furniture items, inscribed with years such as 1712, 1806, and 1846.

The church and the ancient cemetery are surrounded by an irregular polygonal precinct, partially preserved or included in more recent buildings. Except for a small gate tower on the southern side, nothing seems to argue in favor of this wall’s military function.

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