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Architectural patterns of the Transylvanian Marginimea Sibiului

By admin | November 25, 2007

The village of Galeş is situated in the heart of the Marginimea Sibiului. This is an area which comprises about 20 village and town communities that have a strong Romanian cultural and ethnic identity. The area sits on the northern arc of the Carpathians, close to the Valea Oltului, a river path leading directly south to the plains of Wallachia, in Southern Romania. The area was a Romanian outpost on the edge of the Transylvanian Saxon land of Siebenbürgen. Today, it is hailed in mainstream Romanian society as a source of the pure Romanian ethnological, cultural, architectural and historical heritage.

  Gales map

Galeş village is similarly laid out to a Saxon village and shares many of the same architectural styles. Indeed, historical records show that there was a small ethnic Saxon population in the village, which in the late 19th Century reached ten families. The main difference is that whilst the village conforms to a ribbon style which follows the Râul Negru stream uphill between Salişte and Tilişca, the stream does not sit in the centre of the road, but off to one side, behind the houses. This was probably a sensible thing for the villagers to do given the large and fast-flowing volume of water that comes down from the Munţii Cindrel.

Many of the village houses are styled similarly to the Saxon style, sitting end-on to the street, painted in a rich variety of ochres, greens and blues, with distinctive hipped roofs. The main difference with the sober Saxon facades is that many of Galeş’s house fronts have fanciful flourishes of Hungarian Baroque. The houses themselves are built to a format, with their cobbled courtyards, winter and summer kitchens, vegetable patches and timber frame barns enclosing the rear end of the courtyard. Behind the barns lie a further vegetable plot and an orchard, sometimes with a row of walnuts at the far end. The village is enclosed and neatly protected by steep valley sides which, when climbed, give stunning views over the hills, valley bottom and to the snow-capped peaks of the Carpathians in the far distance.

Here are some examples of house facades in the village (which I hope to add to over the next several months, so please keep checking back for updates):



Gales house example 6Gales house example 5

Gales house example 4

The pargeting images in the following picture illustrate common themes in Romanian, Hungarian and Saxon folk-culture: the spiraling flowers on the pargeting symbolise eternity, whilst the swans symbolise grace and innocence:

Gales example of pargetting

The colossal gates that lead into each courtyard are important symbols of the status and standing of the house’s occupants, over and above any functional requirement to be tall to allow heavily laden hay carts from getting in or out. They do not include any of the carved wood elements typical of Maramureş architectural culture, but nevertheless there are a variety of styles that demonstrate the high technical skills of their constructors.

Here is an example of a close-up of a gate from one of the earlier houses:


Gales example of a gate 1

















Topics: Transylvania, Galeş, Transylvanian architectural patterns |