The architectural heritage of Rimetea Village located in Transylvania, Romania, constitutes the largest vernacular architectural heritage of the region formed of about 201 traditional buildings (out of the existing 315 properties), 170 of which are historic buildings with individual architectural and ethnographical value.
The buildings placed on a historically valuable street pattern – divided to social neighborhoods – are grouped around squares and in rows of houses forming homogeneous ensembles surrounded by a natural landscape of an exceptional beauty.
The vernacular buildings represent five different traditional building types.
The oldest buildings – Type A -are examples of 17-18th century architecture characterized by archaic construction methods and forms unique to the place. In this category there are some architectural rarities, such as a construction from 1668 known as the oldest rural building of the region, as well as a creak mill from 1752, the oldest one of its type in the Carpathian Basin.
The most valuable part of the architectural heritage are the group of classicist mannered – type B-and eclectic style -type C- bourgeois buildings from the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century They are unique due to their homogenous geometry and structure, various and rich decoration, wrought-iron elements as products of the local iron manufacture. These features describe eloquently the material and spiritual prosperity of the period.
The early and late peasant houses -type D and E – were built by the poorer inhabitants of Rimetea. These structures are valuable pieces of high quality vernacular architecture.
Their value is multiplied by the ethnographical value of the traditional furniture, embroidery and traditional costumes, as well as the wrought-iron elements representing relics of the local iron mining and manufacturing tradition that has determined and shaped the development of the settlement.
The cemetery of the village exhibits a unique burial method as well as a large number of historic gravestones of different artistic styles.
Values in Rimetea Village
Architectural heritage of Rimetea is exceptional and of universal importance due to the following values:
1. Value that derives from the uniquely preserved strongly homogeneous architectural ensemble built up of more than 200 traditional rural properties of existing 315 that contain more than 171 buildings with special architectural, historical and ethnographical value. The traditional buildings surround almost homogeneously the large main square of the settlement, plus there are a series of traditional rows of houses. The buildings forming ensembles are bounded due to their architecture and homogeneity, being of universal value because of the historic, social, ethnographic and scientific development that gave birth to them.
2. Value that derives from the individual architectural, historical, ethnographical character of Rimetea’s historic buildings that represent five different types of dwellings built by owners and local masters coming from different social groups in different historical times. These buildings exhibit unique vernacular architectural features, characteristic only to the ethnographical region of Rimetea and Coltesti, as local developments of general use of materials, structures and ornaments. The architectural value of the individual buildings is multiplied by the very rich ornamentation of elevations, carved stone elements, carved timber elements, elements with unique forms that are also exhibiting a specific development over a span of 400 years.
3. Value that derives from the industrial and technological heritage of iron mining and manufacture testified by locally produced wrought-iron elements, as fixed or movable features of historic buildings, exhibiting a special and unique technological development of universal value. Rimetea’s iron mining and manufacture is the longest surviving archaic medieval iron mining method in Europe. The process of iron mining determined the social stratification of the settlement (miners, forger-workers, blacksmiths, furnace owners, tradesmen and farmers from Rimetea, woodsmen and charcoal suppliers from the surrounding Romanian villages), and it formed a basis for its mostly diverse and unique cultural heritage.
4. Architectural and urban value of the settlement structure organized according to a medieval pattern, conserved almost unchanged during more than 600 years that derives from the traditional plot arrangement and land use. The street structure, the arrangement of the main and ancillary buildings as well as the use of courtyards are a unique synthesis of multiple cultural, social and historical effects. A medieval serf community that built its local economy on iron mining an manufacture of national importance created a settlement pattern comparable to those of medieval towns that is developing having a double character of a bourgeois-industrial town with its characteristic functions and of a village defined by its agricultural character and rich ethnographical heritage.
5. Ethnographical value deriving from the movable heritage that belongs to historic buildings, such as painted local furniture (unique and characteristic to the place), local embroidery, very special and ornate traditional costumes.
6. Artistic, historic and ethnographic value of the cemetery, that is an example for a unique burial method connected to the mining past of the village, containing a large number of gravestones that are the fine examples of local art and ethnography over a span of 300 years. The graves exhibit different expression ways and styles that document the very rich history of the local community.
7. Value deriving from the rich political and cultural history of the settlement that witnesses a unique development;
7.1. A century-long social and economic conflict between the community and the ancient landlord family, the Thoroczkays, that owned the settlement and the surroundings since the late 12th century until 1920;
7.2. An exemplary interethnic harmony between Hungarians, Germans, Romanians and Roma (Gypsies) of Rimetea Village and the surrounding mountain villages based on the economic relationship and division of work needed for the whole technological process of iron mining and manufacture, that created a favorizing atmosphere for compromising even during the ethnically most tensioned 1848 revolution and War of Independence.
7.3. A fruitful cultural prosperity deriving from the Unitarian Protestant religion materialized in a school of regional importance established in 1560, hosting talented young students from other geographical regions and a girl’s boarding school established in 1770. The institutions were famous for being pioneers in applying modern educational principles, and for educating scientist of great fame, such as Samuel Brassai, ethnographer and Unitarian bishop Janos Kriza and the Romanian politician George Baritiu.
The value of the architectural and cultural heritage is accentuated by the:
8. Exceptional beauty of the surrounding natural landscape marked by high rocky mountains forming a spectacular scenery for the settlements’ immediate vicinity that is partly protected as a Natural Reservation area
9. Historic, industrial and cultural value of the cultural landscape of the former iron mines and forgeries, an industrial archaeological site gradually invaded by nature that still displays a large number of mine entrances, paved roads and stone walls.
10. Cultural historical and archaeological value of the two medieval castle ruins and their sites. The archaeological site of one is placed on the 1131m high rock near Rimetea Village witnessing the Mongol attack from 1268. The second one, preserved more picturesquely in the vicinity of Coltesti village, relates to important events, such as the peasant revolt from 1514 and the anti-Habsburg Independence War from 1703-1708 when it was destroyed, as well as the architectural, historical and cultural values of the sites and remains of the former mansion houses, Franciscan monastery, and burial hill of the landlord family located in Coltesti.
The area proposed for inclusion covers the historic part of Rimetea Village containing 315 properties of which 171 are of historical value. Its buffer zone is determined to cover the area which is in optical contact with the historic core of the settlement containing the spectacular rocky scenery from East and West and cover the industrial archaeological site of the ancient mines.
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