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Cathédrale de Reims
Biertan Fortified church 
Photo provided by
Mara Popescu 

FRH Newsletter

September 2017

Dear Friends,
Welcome to September’s newsletter. This edition features the fortified churches of Romania - a rather unexplored beacon of hidden beauty and fascinating history. The author, Mara Popescu, draws your attention to the South-eastern part of Transylvania. The area is renowned for its fortified churches built since the 13th century which served as a defence form until the last Ottoman incursion into Transylvania, 1788.

Did you know that as much as 20 per cent of the properties inscribed on the World Heritage List have some sort of religious or spiritual connection? This month we reflect on the importance of the world's religious heritage and its connection with peoples' history and culture.

Also, find out what classic cars and church buildings have in common? Apparently, more than you might think - The Norfolk Open Churches Classic Car Run explains. Let us know about similar initiatives that could help Europeans to engage with their local communities about the future of religious heritage.  The European Year of Cultural Heritage is offering plenty of opportunities. 
The fortified churches of Romania
Author: Architect Mara Popescu, PhD, MSc., MA. KU Leuven

The South-eastern part of Transylvania is renowned for its fortified churches built since the 13th century. These served as a defence form until the last Ottoman incursion into Transylvania, 1788. The fortified churches are specific to the Saxon and Szekely villages located in this area, and are part of the European phenomenon of fortified churches.

The Transylvanian fortified churches can be categorized by the type of fortification into three main groups: fortified churches, churches with fortified enclosure walls, and churches with mixed defensive features (“church-fortress”). The first category can be recognized by the belfry towers which were turned into a donjon (keep) or thick walls which had large paths for guards with holes in the floor, and under the cornice there were mortars. The second category sees the churches’ building without a defensive element. They are surrounded by walls, which in some cases can be either relatively small, without crenels, and few defensive towers, or on the contrary, tall and thick with guard paths, several towers, and crenels. Other types have multiple enclosure walls. Finally, the last category presents the fortifications that have a combination of the two previously mentioned types. It can be seen as a double protection system. Besides the use of the church building designed as a defensive structure, there are also the surrounding walls having multiple defensive elements.

Some of the churches were equipped with enclosure walls that could handle prolonged sieges. Within these walls, the entire population of the village could be sheltered in the spaces that were used as barns in peacetime, and each family had its own room. Continue reading...


Photo credit Alexander Kloos 
Prejmer Fortified Church
Photo credit 
Mara Popescu
UNESCO: Initiatives of Religious Heritage 

There is a great variety of religious heritage sites that represent the different cultures and traditions of the world. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation   (UNESCO) as much as 20 per cent of the properties inscribed on the World Heritage List have a religious or spiritual connection. These buildings of religious heritage can be found in most European cities and in countries around the world. Many of the historic buildings and religious sites inscribed on the World Heritage List are recognised as an important feature of people's lives and their community. 

FRH –  The Voice of Religious Heritage in Europe

In recent years, FRH has established itself as the voice of religious heritage in Europe. The organisation’s development and promotion of a powerful normative action on the European level has raised the attention of EU institutions, policy makers and key stakeholders in the area of religious heritage. The EYCH 2018 will be another milestone for the future of heritage.  

Communities – Looking at 'The Big Picture'

More needs to be done on a global level to safeguard the social and practical challenges facing the world’s religious heritage. So far, several research studies and analyses of religious heritage were carried out by the Advisory Bodies - ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN to help the protection of sacred heritage sites, buildings and landscapes. FRH is actively engaged with the EU, the European Commission and national stakeholders in each member state. 

Strategic importance 

A recent Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe report shows that heritage creates jobs, encourages investment and can improve social cohesion. An estimated 300,000 people work directly in the cultural heritage sector in the EU and as many as 7.8 million jobs are created indirectly by the sector.

Understanding the continuing nature of religious heritage, having the capacity to protect its future and historical significance, as well as sharing the knowledge of our European values, are the three pillars necessary for building mutual respect and dialogue between communities.
EYCH 2018: Unique chance for the religious heritage sector
FRH is proud to be an official partner engaged in the first official Year of Cultural Heritage, an initiative by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council. Throughout 2018, a series of events and activities across Europe will encourage European citizens to understand the past and imagine the future in relation to religious heritage, reinforcing the sense of belonging to a common European space.
Background - EU tradition 

Since 1983, official European ‘Years’ have been encouraging dialogue between countries in addressing specific subjects like development (2015), citizens (2013 - 2014) and active ageing (2012). The idea of a focus on cultural and religious heritage aims to strengthen the sense of a European identity.

Involvement and Strategy 

FRH has been selected as one of the stakeholders for the Voices of Culture in relation to the EYCH 2018.  As the network is gearing towards launching new initiatives, including some online activities to encourage information sharing in the religious heritage sector, we will keep our community and network informed of opportunities to get involved.

After taking part in the kick-off meetings for preparation with stakeholders and member states, Future for Religious Heritage will help shape the next steps. To pave the way for the launch of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, FRH is developing a new state-of-the-art web site. 

Regional and transnational initiatives

To meet these four main objectives, a series of events will run throughout 2018, starting with a launch in December 2017 during the European Cultural Forum in Milan. This will include regional and local initiatives, but also national projects implemented by national coordinators designated by each of the EU member states.

The Ledgerstone Survey – of England and Wales

The Ledgerstone Survey of England and Wales (LSEW) aims to record all the ledgerstones of England and Wales. The Pilot scheme is aiming to record the ledgers in  churches now out of use for regular worship and in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT). LSEW is keen to engage as many volunteers as possible to record ledgers before more disappear and to develop educational resources to enable anyone interested in their local ancestors, in letter cutting or the beauty of these stones, to access ledgers. Continue reading... 
Managing Major Building Projects in Places of Worship
The Historic Religious Buildings Alliance in the UK is organising a training session aimed at those concerned with places of worship of all sizes, types and location. The session will help those interested in religious heritage to manage all stages of a building project in a place of worship, from start up through to making sure you achieve the benefits over the long term.
Register here to gain practical knowledge about building projects in places of worship. 
FRH News
The next FRH Annual General Meeting will be held in Leuven on 26th October 2017. It will take place in the Abdij van Park, Heverlee. 

In the afternoon, the participants will attend a session focused on the development of rural and religious tourism around churches. They will be able to share different experiences in the field of religious heritage and tourism. 

The participants will also have the opportunity to discover the new museum “Parcum”, open just the day before (see and will be introduced to the activities of the 
The Alamire Foundation, International Centre for the Study of Music in the Low Countries, which is based in the Abdij van Park. 

The Paris Conference, organised jointly with la Sauvegarde, will take place in October 2018. Stay tuned on this announcement for more developments to follow.

Get involved
If you would like to contribute to the next issue, we’d love to hear from you! Let us know what you’ve been up to and what your ongoing projects are. You can also send us your photos at Pictures will be published on our official gallery.

With best wishes and regards,

Milko Hadzhigenov
FRH Communication Officer
 View of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck. (c) Arne List
Third Meeting of European World Heritage Associations, 5 and 6 October 2017
The 3rd Meeting of European World Heritage Associations will take place in the Hanseatic City of Lübeck from 5 to 6 October 2017. It is being organized by the German World Heritage Sites Association, the German Commission for UNESCO and Lübeck & Travemünde Marketing GmbH, and features as its theme “Sharing World Heritage”. Find out more from here
Norfolk Open Churches Classic Car Run. (c) Norwich Cathedral 

 The 10th Anniversary of the Norfolk Open Churches Classic Car Run took place on 5 August and attracted a record entry of 115 cars from the 1930s up to the
present. The event, which kicked off the 2017 Norfolk Open Churches Week, was the perfect opportunity to enjoy the beauty of classic cars and Norfolk's churches in one place.
All profits from the Run went towards the maintenance and upkeep of Norwich Cathedral. 

Do you also have similar initiatives in your local area that aim to safeguard and maintain buildings of religious heritage? If so, let us know by sharing your experiences. 
Future for Religious Heritage is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.
Copyright © 2017 Future for Religious Heritage, All rights reserved.

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