LASLEA

The village is located about 28 km east of Mediaş, on a secondary road winding from national road DN14 toward south. The first documentary mention dates from 1309, when a group of Saxon deans asked cardinal Gentilis to confirm the bishop of Alba Iulia of Transylvania. One of those deans was Ulricus, “decanus de districtu de sante Ladislao”, which attests the existence of a religious structure in the settlement. According to a document dating from 1348, the period when the last Saxon Borough – Sighişoara Borough – is founded, Laslea became a free village on royal earth, a status many settlements dreamt of in order to enjoy the privileges granted to Saxons in 1224 by Andrei II and reconfirmed many times afterwards.

Archaeological researches discovered numerous living traces around the village. One of the most important ones is a fortification unearthed in 1958, in the southern extremity of field Laslea, on a partially wooded hill, near the national road. Recent researches there marked out a fortress surrounded by soil waves, about 160 metres long and 15-20 metres wide, which experts date from the Wietenberg age and, subsequently, the Hallstatt age.

081 LasleaThe church existing in Laslea in 1309 was most probably replaced by a Gothic basilica with three naves dedicated to Saint Ladislaus, the construction of which observed all canons of the time. Only the western tower was preserved from this basilica, but the indices it offers are enough for us to make up an approximate image of the entire church. The tower has five storeys and is provided with embrasures. On the eastern wall of the bell tower there still exist traces of the high roof, in two slopes, specific for fortified Gothic churches, traces of the western wall of the central semi-cylindrically vaulted nave and “the door” between the first storey of the tower and the church attic, usually the only access to a donjon. On the eastern edges of the tower there still are vestiges of the central nave walls, in the east, and of the walls of lateral naves, in the south and in the north. Therefore, the layout fully observed the plan of an early Gothic basilica, but the tower was not flanked by collaterals. Year 1456, which is inscribed on a wall, cannot be the year when the church construction finished, but most likely it could be the year of a major renovation.

The semi-cylindrically vaulted ground floor of the tower had three entrances in semi-circular arcades, which were walled during its fortification. The southern and northern arcades can still be seen in the tower masonry, while the western arcade was opened and furbished for the entrance to tower. The tower has rectangular ramparts, and the bells are placed at the fifth storey, which is provided with windows on all sides. The tower has a pyramidal roof and a chemin-de-ronde on consoles, with wood railings.

081 Laslea 1In 1838 the basilica structure and the choir, in an advanced state of deterioration, were demolished. The bell tower of the old church was kept until the finalisation of the new church, which was designed initially without a tower. The new church was a total surprise for me: all the churches I visited had their altar eastward, towards Jerusalem. This is the only exception I know, which has the altar northward and the sacristy in the west of the altar.

The fortress enclosure was constructed at the end of the 15th century, in an approximately oval shape. The wall was demolished in the east and in the south-east, and it was reconditioned in a straight line, with a height of about two metres and aligned at the façades of the houses. Portions of five-metre-high walls, with points of support of the chemin-de-ronde, still exist in the west.
At the end of the 19th century, a building of a special charm, resembling a festivities hall, was constructed in the close vicinity of the church. I reproduce one of the images that have pleasantly impressed me, as not many rural settlements can boast such an atmosphere of good taste, and of physical and spiritual contentment.

The new church was constructed by Samuel Teutsch of Sighişoara in 1842, in neo-classicist style. The choir has a semi-cylindrical vault with penetrations, its triumph arch is semi-circular and a double arch separates the rectangular choir from the semi-circular apse. The nave has a simple ceiling, its southern end including the organ stand, which is supported on three semi-circular arcades.

Five years later the inhabitants changed their minds and decided to construct a bell tower near the church. Soon after it was finished, the new bell tower collapsed because of a crack appeared during its construction. The old bell tower regained its well-deserved place in the enclosure compound in Laslea.

 

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