The Fortress and the Fortress Church

The hill, where the fortress is today, was formally the place of the city's first Franciscan 'residency', including the monastery building, an older chapel, the church and the steeple. This was the fourth Transylvanian Franciscan monastery. It is special because it was the first built in a Hungarian market town and not in the Saxon urban environment. The large church proofs that the place was a regional catholic center: pilgrims arrived here in the 14th-15th century from Szeklerland, Sighișoara, but even from Moldova. The monks had a good life: they were educated, travelled a lot and had a quite diversified diet compared to serfs. Most likely, the monastery was founded in 1332. Around the monastery the town named Székelyvásárhely built its fortress in the 15th century. The locals built their fortress here first, because the location was favorable, second, because they did not need to build anything inside the fortress, as the existing buildings could provide shelter in case of siege. The fortress' first expansion was made in the time of Chief Justice Tamás Borsos after the Tartar raids and the attacks led by Giorgio Basta (Count of Huszt, the Italian general employed by the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II). The expansion lasted from 1612 to the second half of the 17th century. In 1658 the citizens already defended their town from the new fortress. At this time the town had a new name, Marosvásárhely (Novum Forum Siculorum), as it became a royal free city. Altough the Tartars were chased away, in 1703 the city got into Kuruc, later Labanc hands. Finally, the Austrian army settled down here for a long period of time. Even after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the castle served as a military facility until 2007. Except, of course, the church, which always belonged to the Reformed Church. The monastery and the church became the property of reformed believers in 1557, as, with the Protestant Reformation, the Franciscans were banished. Balázs Káli, Lutheran priest, was entrusted with the leadership of the church. Only the church, the sacristy, the tower and the chancel has survived from the old monastery. Almost all the paintings and and frescoes dissipated (the religious reform required for churches to have no paintings, statues or religious frescos). On the temple's south gate only one medieval fresco is still visible, portraying the death of the martyr St. Lenart. As far as the architectural style is concerned, these buildings belong to the late Gothic, both structurally and aesthetically, but the current appearance of the inside of the church is the result of numerous changes done in time.

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