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Images of Székely Land (Central Europe)



[God, Keep Us in Faith]

NATIONAL ANTHEM OF THE SZÉKELYs This is the verse, note and music of the National Anthem of the Székelys, a Hungarian ethnic group, the original inhabitants of Transylvania. This Anthem was composed in 1918, when Rumania occupied Transylvania and 200,000 Hungarians fled to Hungary, among them was 50,000 Székelys. Their cares, despairs, hope in a miracle is chanted in this slowly moving, sad, very touching melody. Strating with a question "Who knows where destiny is leading us?", the song tells about the suffers the Székelys endured from the Tartars, Turks, Habsburgs, and it is in fact, a prayer to God to save their land, Transylvania.
Click here to hear the National Anthem of the Székelys (RealAudio 3.0 Dual ISDN Mono sound file, 3 min., 1.8 Mb)
[Székely girl]

[North Székely-land]

[South Székely-land]

[South Székely-land]

[Székely gate]

[Mountains of Görgény]
Mountains of
Görgény in summer

[Mountains of Görgény]
in winter

[Székely youth]

[Mountains of Hargita]
Mountains of

[Fejünk az ár, jaj, százszor elborítja,<br>

Ne hagyd elveszni, Erdélyt, Istenünk !]
Fejünk az ár, jaj, százszor elborítja,
Ne hagyd elveszni Erdélyt, Istenünk !

[City Hall]
City Hall



[Golden bust]

[Splinter of skull]
Splinter of



CSÍKSZEREDA (Mircurea Ciuc, Rumania today) is the capital of the Székely-land. It took its name from the Slavic word szreda (Engl. middle) which the Székelys transformed to Szerda, then to Szereda, which refers to the geographical location of the town, i.e., it is in the middle of Csík-szék, one of the five administrative jurisdictions of the Székely-land.
The town was founded by craftsmen during the reign of the Hungarian kings of the House of Árpád (1000-1301), and it quickly became a busy commercial center of the region holding fairs on every Wednesday. The first written document about the municipality of Csíkszereda is from 1558, when Hungarian queen Isabel relieves oppidum Zereda from paying tax to the Hungarian royal court.
The history of Csíkszereda has been plagued with devastating raids by the Tartars, Turks, and Habsburg troops, only to be interrupted by peace periods when local high-noble tyrants ruled the land with and iron fist.
In 1717-1719, a very serious black pox epidemic killed two-thirds of the population of the town. During the Hungarian Liberation Fight of 1848, patriotic newspapers, such as the Hadi Lap and the Csíki Gyutacs were printed in Csíkszereda. After World War I, the Treaty of Trianon, 1920, annexed Csíkszereda, along with entire Transylvania, from Hungary to Rumania (to whom these places had never belonged before).
Csíkszereda, with a population of 70,000, today is an important industrial town and continues to be the cultural and ethnic center of the Hungarian Székelys in the Székely-land.
[Áron Márton Grammar School] The Áron Márton Grammar School was originally opened in Csíksomlyó (a municipality in the outskirts of Csíkszereda), as part of the Franciscan monastery there, in 1668. The students of the monastery grammar school not only received a high level of education, but were also encouraged to get involved in extra-curricular activities, such as forming amateur play groups. They have developed their amateur performing art skills to a considerable level, since they have put on 48 school plays (47 in Hungarian, 1 in Latin language), which were showing according to regular yearly calendars, known as the Csíksomlyói misztériumok (Engl. Mystical plays at Csíksomlyó). Székely Áron Gábor, the castor of the famous cannon of brass of 1848 was among its students.
The building of the Franciscan monastery of Csíksomlyó was growing small for the reputable grammar school, so they built a 365-room building in Csíkszereda in secessionist style in 1909, and the school moved here in 1911. The Áron Márton Grammar School, which is proud of its traditions, celebrated its 300th anniversary in 1968.
[Castle of Mikó ]

[Castle of Mikó ]

The Castle of Mikó stands in the southern part of Csíkszereda and is the most well-known landmark of the town. The original castle, which had been on this spot, was built by Hungarian king Saint Ladislaus I (1077-1095), the famed King of Knight, but it was later destroyed during subsequent wars. Using the old foundations, the present building was erected by Hungarian noble Ferenc Mikó, commander-in-chief of Csík-, Gyergyó- and Kászon-szék (administrative jurisdictions of the Székely-land), between 1611-1621.This castle was meant to be a fortified residential palace, rather than a military object, and it became a luxurious chateau.
During the 1661 Turkish raid on Csíkszereda, the castle was almost totally destroyed and the devastation became complete by the next Tartar attack in 1694. In 1714, the building was rebuilt by Habsburg general Steinwille who made the Castle of Mikó a military fortress.
The castle was hardly finished when one of the most deadly black pox epidemics hit town in 1717-1719, killing the majority of the people. Csíkszereda was recuperating when the Castle of Mikó, now serving as a jail, was used to hold and torture the Székely prisoners of the anti-Habsburg resistance, called the Madéfalvi veszedelem (Engl. Massacre at Madéfalva), in 1764.
Today, the Castle of Mikó, among others, hosts the Museum of the Székelys of Csík-szék.



[Weeping Mary]
Weeping Mary

CSÍKSOMLYÓ, which is in the outskirts of Csíkszereda, is first mentioned in a document of the pope dated 1332, when he acknowledges revenues collected from here. According to historian Losteiner, the village had its own church and monastery as early as 1208.
The Franciscan monastery of Csíksomlyó was founded in 1442 by János Hunyadi, governor of Hungary (1446-1452), mighty defender of Hungary against the Ottoman invasion, father of the finest Hungarian king: Matthias (1458-1490), to commemorate his victory over the Turkish troops at Marosszentimre.
The church and the monastery did not avoid the devastations of history. In 1553, Wallachian (i.e., Rumanian) voivodine Peter and his son Elijah of Moldova cracked down on the village spreading havoc; in 1600, Habsburg general Basta raided Csík-szék; but the deadliest attack came in 1661, when the Tartars set the church, monastery and the school on fire destroying them. Luckily (and heroically !) the next Tartar raid of 1694 was beaten back by well-prepared troops, even counting women within its lines.
[Monk of Csíksomlyó]
The Salvator chapel

[Inside chapel]
The chapel inside

[View from chapel]
View to the outside

[Cantionale Catholicum]
Cantionale Catholicum

[Priest's gown]

Following the authorization by the pope in 1667, the secondary grammar school Csíksomlyó opened its gates in 1668. Among the founders of the grammar school was Hungarian (1629-1687), who was a truly talented man having many skills. Ha was an architect, composer, organ builder and player, historian, and printer. He established the printery of Csíksomlyó (the first printery in the Székely-land) and printed the first book in 1675 titled Cantionale Catholicum, which was a psalm-book.
The grammar school was run by the monks of the Franciscan begging order, but because of the very important cultural, ethnographical, architectural, and artistic, etc., achievements they have made, the monastery school received donations from political leader and high-nobles, as their sigh of appreciation. Even Basta, the cruel Habsburg general donated wealth, and during his raids, he managed to avoid causing damage to the monks here. The largest donations were from Hungarian Gábor Bethlen in 1616, György Rákóczi I, in 1649, Ákos Barcsay in 1659, and Mihály Apaffi in 1662.
As a results, the Franciscan monks were able to establish such a high-level educational, cultural, and artistic center in the Grammar School of Csíksomlyó, that is became completely comparable to the levels of other reputable schools of the same kind in Western Europe.
The present church's construction started in 1802 in late baroque style and the construction procedure with the interiors lasted 72 years. The foundation of the old monastery founded by János Hunyadi was used to erect the new building. The two-tower church has a 12-meter-high aisle which hosts magnificent paintings by Italian and Hungarian painters; the organ, re-built by János Kájoni, and the wooden-sculpture figure of the Virgin Mary, known as the Weeping Mary, in the main altar both count for a masterpiece. One of the church's bells is 1,133 kg.
[Székely girls in costume]
Székely girls in national costumes
Csíksomlyó became a pilgrimage place in 1567, when Hungarian king Sigismund János (1559-1571) wanted to convert the Székely population to Protestant. The Székelys refused to abandon the Catholic faith and resisted. A battle took place on a nearby field, on the day of Pentecost Saturday 1567, from which the Székelys came out victorious. The monks saw this as a sign of the care of Virgin Mary, and since then, this event has been commemorated by a pilgrimage when the believers gather on Pentecost every year.
The church and the Franciscan monastery of Csíksomlyó stand as a landmark in the Székely-land. This complex, and the pilgrimage here each year, have become a symbol of the brotherhood of the Székelys, their cultural and ethnic awareness of survival at any rate and, therefore, its importance for the Székely and Hungarian people in Transylvania would be difficult to over-estimate.
[Pilgrimage at Csíksomlyó]

[Young Székelys]
Székely Pilgrims to


Coat of Arms of Kászon-szék

CSÍKZSÖGÖD (Jigodin-Ciuc, Rumania today) is now merged with Csíkszereda. This is the hometown of the accomplished Székely painter Imre Nagy (1893-1976) and also hosts a museum on his life and works. His remains rest in the walls of the building. The white-washed church is fortified with walls and stands on a hilltop giving an impressive view for the turists, even from a distance.
In the 11th century, Csík-land, the predecessor of Csík-szék, originally included areas of Három-szék and the Barcaság. According to a letter, dated 1324, by Hungarian king Charles Robert (1308-1342) of the House of Anjou, the number of villages was increasing in Csík-land, and the revenue list of the pope, dated 1332, talks about a well-populated network of villages here.
Hungarian Balázs Orbán, the unique ethnographer of the Székely-land, describes that Csík-land is composed of three regions, i.e., Csík-szék, Kászon-szék and Gyergyó-szék.
Therefore, when the general entity of the Székely people per se is discussed, they are referred to as Trium generum siculi, (Engl. Three generations of the Székelys), originating from these three széks. Later these three branched into 6 generations with 4 sub-branches in each generation.

[St. Anna Lake]

[St. Anna Lake]

[St. Anna chapel]

SAINT ANNA LAKE, near Tusnádfürdõ, lies in the cold crater of a dead volcano, the Csomád (Ciomatul, Rumania today), at an altitude of 950 meters. In the prehistoric ages, there were other lakes in the crater, which, by now, got filled up with decaying remains of old trees, dry leaves, etc., and the area turned into a bushy, lightly forested, boggy land, called the Mohos-láp (Engl. Boggy land). The Mohos-láp has a 10-meter-thick peat cover and becomes a very dangerous place, especially after long rainy periods, when the soft peat becomes so marshy that it inevitably sucks down everything heavy: men, but even cows gone astray.
The Saint Anna lake is surrounded by legends, mysteries and miracles. Even the shape of the lake is not usual; it looks like a large tear-drop. The lake is not fed by any brook or stream, the only water supply is the rain, therefore, the waters of the lake is nearly as pure as distilled water. The area of the lake was not only believed to be a hiding place for pagan gods or genies, but also has been and still is one of the most adored and respected sacred place for the Christian Székelys, who always come here with a spirit filled with piety.
Pilgrimage to the Saint Anna lake has been a custom since the 12th century, which is confirmed by documents telling about a wooden St. Anna chapel by the lake. By 1564, a stone chapel was built, and the popularity of the pilgrimage reached its apex during the 17-18th centuries when 30,000-40,000 pilgrims gathered here, and the event lasted for days. It became a tradition for the young to gather here every year, to find a partner, under the guardianship of Saint Anna, who made sure that the young find one another. Saint Anna, mother of Virgin Mary, was the patrona of the young adult girls and the expectant mothers, but the infertile also prayed to her for pregnancy. On her holy day, Tuesday, the Székely women stayed away from any household activity and spent the day with praying.
Around 1720, the Franciscan monks of Csíksomlyó started to promote the adoration of Saint Antony of Padua, and since then, the Saint Anna traditions has been gradually reduced but they are still active, and the Saint Anna lake remains a common gathering place for the Székely youth, even today.
[Boggy land]


[Kotormány] KOTORMÁNY (Cotormani, Rumania today) is south-east from Csíkszereda. This picture shows a bird's eye view of the little hill-top chapel which was consecrated in honour of the so-called Sickle Saint Mary, in 1640.
In the far background, the volcanic peak of the Csomád emerges from the clouds. Inside the crater of this mountain lies the Saint Anna lake and the boggy land of the Mohos.

[Monument at Madéfalva]

[Plaque of statue]

MADÉFALVA (Siculeni, Rumania today) is a sad scene of the Székley history. According to an order by Habsburg queen Maria Theresa (1740-1780), the male Székely population was subject to recruitment to serve as border patrols, under the command of the Habsburg military authorities. The Székely people resisted to join the forced military draft and they organized a revolt against it. As a retortion, Habsburg officers Bukow and Siskovich made a blood bath near the village called Madéfalva (Siculeni, Rumania today), in 1764. The terror-attack came under the darkness of the night, when the Habsburg mercenaries sneaked in the village and massacred 200 unsuspecting Székelys. They were buried in a mass grave, called Vészhalom (Engl. Hill of death), and as a result, thousands of terrified Székelys fled across the Carpathian Mountains, over to Moldova, which was in Rumanian territory. These people later became known as the Csángó székelyek (Engl. Székelys who wandered away), and they still exist in Moldova today. History recorded the bloody event as the Massacre at Madéfalva (Lat. Siculicidium).




CSÍKSZENTLÉLEK (Leliceni, Rumania today), east from Csíkszereda, is an unusual village. It consists of four separated packs of houses, each called by the Székelys tizes (Engl. tens), which probably referred to the number of houses in one pack. Once, these four packs comprised a whole village, but as a results of the repeated Tartars killing raids, entire sections of the village disappeared, in particular in 1614, when almost entire Csíkszentlélek was destroyed. The empty spaces left between the houses have never been refilled and stay empty up to the present day. The groups of the separated houses became known as packs.
The first document recording the name of Csíkszentlélek is a revenue list of the pope, dated 1332, when it quotes the village as Joannes Sacerdos de spiritu solv. 2 banales ant. This confirms that the village already had a chapel in the 12th century, which is in compliance with the order of Saint Stephen I (1000-1038), the first Hungarian king, that every village should put out a chapel. The late gothic church is from the 15th century. It is surrounded by walls, and the huge linden-tree, standing next to the wall is over a 100 years old. Under the tree, the village authorities used to hold their meetings with the people until the turn of the century.

[Acidulous water]
Muddy spring of borvíz
UNIQUE NATURAL RESOURCES In the Székely-land, a large variety of natural resources can be found, although, many of them in not enough quantity to build industry on them. Popular natural resources, such as springs of borvíz (Engl. acidulous water) can be found every off and on; also springs and caves releasing thick sulphurous gases are common in the Székely-land.
People of the area commonly consume the borvíz but there are villages, such as Borszék (Borsec) where the acidulous water is bottled and sold on an industrial basis. This picture show a muddy spring of borvíz at Csíkszentkirály (Sincraieni, Rumania today).
People contain the sulphurous gases by building wooden huts over their springs, called büdösfürdõ or mofetta (Engl. smelly bath). The gases, which are heavier then air, settle in the lower section of the hut, where people spend extended periods of time, standing or sitting, to seek relief for their rheumatic pains. This is a büdösfürdõ from the Mountains of Hargita (Hung. Hargitai havasok).
[Smelly bath]
A smelly bath outside

[Smelly bath]
and inside

[Csíkmindszent] CSÍKMINDSZENT (Misentea, Rumania today), south-east from Csíkszereda, is of one the oldest villages in the area; it was founded in 1100-1200 during the reign of the Hungarian kings. A revenue list of the pope, dated 1332, calls Csíkmindszent Omnes Sancti, and refers to it as a village with church and congregation. In 1567, the village is mentioned as Mindzenta, which changed to Mindszent by 1576. A census in 1614 reckoned with 111 families, but after numerous Tartar and Turkish raids, as well as devastating black pox epidemics, the population was still under the number of the 1614 census, even after 140 years !
Data suggest that Csíkmindszent already had a church in the 13th century, but the present church is from the 15th century, and is a historic monument with an importance for entire Europe. The gothic apse is still the original; the walls around the church and one of its bells are from 1505. Large sections of the church perished in a fire in 1661, so the present tower and the aisle were built between 1799-1815.
Csíkmindszent is an important place because a carved stone plate, dating 1188, was unearthed here with one of the earliest written proofs of the presence of the Székelys in the area.



CSÍKSZENTGYÖRGY (Ciuc-Singeorgiu, Rumania today), as the other Csík villages, was founded during the reign of the Hungarian kings of the House of Árpád, during the 12-13th century. It took its name from the hero of the European folk legends, Saint George, the dragon-killer. The first written proof of the existence of the village dates back to 1456, and a census in 1514 counted 207 families, which accounts for a considerable population.
Csíkszentgyörgy is the home of one of the largest and most beautiful gothic churches of the Székely-land. Built in 1336, the church was modified several times and, after the first Turkish attacks, it was surrounded by tall fortifying walls. The ceiling of the church is painted with frescos.
In the village stands the Holy Mary chapel, which has a nearby location, 100 meters from it, called the Priests death. This is an area where the soil has a red colour to it. The legend holds that this is because once priests were slaughtered here and their blood discoloured the ground. When people re-wash their houses, they take the soil from here to colour the paint, because they attribute sacred power to it, which protects the house from wicked ghosts, and keep them from illnesses.



CSÍKMÉNASÁG (Armaseni, Rumania today), as many villages in CSík-szék, was founded by the Hungarian kings of the House of Árpád, during the 12-13th century. The first overall census in the Székely-land, held by Hungarian Prince of Transylvania Gábor Bethlen, in 1614, counted 700 people. Csíkménaság, with its church from the 15th century, is one of the most precious highlights in Transylvania. The church was built using the walls and foundations of an older romanesque church built in the 13th century. The apse is still the original one from 1200's, and the ceiling decorated with net-type ornaments and late gothic frescos, depicting figures of the sun, the moon, the four evangelists and several female saints. The oldest sculpture of Virgin Mary is also in the apse, and the entire unit is a wonderful historic complex. The original wooden wing-type foldable main altar was made in the 17th century, which is now within the treasures of the Hungarian National Museum, Budapest. The present alter is from the 18th century, whereas the aisle from 1858.
In the church-yard stands the statue, by Hungarian sculptor Jenõ Szervátiusz from Kolozsvár (Cluj Napoca), about the Heroes of the World War I.
Signo te Signo Crucis
Signo te Signo Crucis, et Confirmo te Chrismate Salutis, in nomine Patris, et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. : I mark you with the sign of the cross, and confirm you with the oil of salvation, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. - A young Székely boy is confirmed.

[Csíkkozmás] CSÍKKOZMÁS (Cozmeni, Rumania today) took its name from Saint Kozma, a healing saint. The name Kozma can be found first in the revenue list of the pope, dated 1332, where he acknowledges that the village paid its tax, the tenth. Founded during the 12-13th centuries, Csíkkozmás had 500 inhabitants in 1614, but the village, similarly to the other Székely villages in Csík-szék was devastated by the Tartars, Turks and the Habsburgs. At times, the misery was so high that entire families singed contracts to enter serfhood, just to avoid starvation.
The church of Csíkkozmás is one of the oldest churches in the area; it was built over the remains of an older romanesque chapel and consecrated in 1653, in honour of brothers and healing saints Saint Kozma and Demjén. The sculpture of the two saints can be seen on the main altar.
Leaving the village, the road starts to climb on the mountain of Nyerges (Enlg. Saddle) and shortly reaches the ridge, called Nyergestetõ.

they live...
NYERGESTETÕ The mountains of Nyerges is located along the road between Csíkkozmás and Kászonújfalu. The ridge of the mountains, called the Nyergestetõ is a familiar place for every Székely, since this area witnessed many battle victories and defeats, during history. On August 1, 1849, on this narrow ridge, colonel Sándor Gál, and his 200-men-strong tiny Székely troops, tried to stop the huge Russian army pouring into Transylvania. In the short but heroic battle, which was one of the last battles of the Hungarian Liberation Fight of 1848, all Székelys fell. Their spirits and heroic self-sacrifices for Transylvania and Hungary are remembered by this small but very idyllic monument.
There is a mass grave in the forest, closeby to this monument, which gives resting place to not only the 200 Székelys fallen in August 1849, but also to the soldiers who fell in battles against the Tartars in 1550, and the Turks in 1660.



KÁSZONÚJFALU (Casinu Nou, Rumania today) Descending from Nyergestetõ to the east, the first village is Kászonújfalu which is first mentioned in an old document in 1477. The 1614 military census counted 108 recruitable men which accounts for approximately 500 people. The 1661 Tartar raid and the terrible black pox epidemic of 1719 reduced the population to one-third of the original. The church is over 200 years old, whereas the school over 320 years.
One of the favourite past-time activities of the Székely women in these villages is to make a woven fabric material, called festékes (Enlg. painted), which is used as an unpholstery or wall carpets, etc. Although, this fabric is not painted but weaved using coloured threads, making the festékes is an important part of the Székely cultural and ethnic traditions. In this picture a Székely woman shows a festékes that she made.
Székely woman with festékes

[Tusnád pass] Tusnád pass

[Bath Tusnád]
Pike lake

TUSNÁDFÜRDÕ The highway, train and the river Olt cross the Tusnád pass and the travelers arrives in Tusnádfürdõ (Baile Tusnad, Rumania today), which is an internationally-known hot spring village. Located by the Pike lake (Hung. Csukás tó) Tusnádfürdõ, whose healing hot springs are known since the beginning of the 17th century, is visited by 60,000 people every year. The hot springs of Tusnádfürdõ, the best-known one called the Mezotermal bath, are so concentrated with salts and minerals that it can be used for treatment only with the direct supervision of a doctor.
The Pike lake also has a beach area.
A young Székely life which ended early : Dániel Darvas passed away in the 19th year of his blooming life, in the year of 1892. His tomb stone was erected by his parents, Miklós Darvas
and ...
; an epitaph at Nagytusnád.
[Dániel Darvas]
Dániel Darvas, lived 19 years

[Killer lake] THE KILLER LAKE The Killer lake (Hung. Gyilkos tó) is an exceptional natural formation. The lake did not exist until 1838 when a land-slide blocked the way of the stream Békás, running in the valley. The water of the stream built up, flooded the valley and a lake was formed. Located in the Mountains of Gyergyó (Hung. Gyergyói Havasok), in the eastern part of the Carpathian Mountains, the lake lies in a fairy-tale scenery. If you go to the shore of the lake, you can still see in the water the tips of the pine trees flooded more than a hundred years ago, which did not decay, becasue the content of the water of the Killer lake is so high in iron oxide and calcium carbonate that it preserved them. (Picture on the left: Courtesy of Zoltán Farkas) [Killer lake]

[Froggy pass] THE FROGGY PASS The Froggy pass (Hung. Békás szoros) is a few kilometers from the Killer lake to the east. Located in the heart of the Mountains of Gyergyó, it is one of the most spectacular attractions in Transylvania. In the narrow valley, the highway and the stream Békás (Engl. approx. Froggy stream) run side-by-side to a point where the space becomes so tight that the only way for them to proceed is that if the highway is partially cut underneath a 1200-meter-high rock, called the Altar rock (Hung. Oltár-kõ). This picture shows this most dramatic part of the pass, called The Hell (Hung. Pokol) where the bubbling, boiling water of the stream Békás cuts its way through, over big stones and rocks in the riverbed, yet giving room to the highway next to it. (Colour picture : Courtesy of Olivier Clary, Froggy pass]


[Mass grave]
Tartar hill

DITRÓ (Ditrau, Rumania today) is a village in Székely-land with a population of 8000 Székelys. These people made their living on trasporting borvíz (Engl. Acidulous water) from the nearby village Borszék (Borsec, Rumania today). This beautiful church was built in the 19th century in eclectical style.
In 1658, to reteliate the military campaign by Hungarian Prince of Transylvania György Rákóczi II against Poland, the Turkish sultan lead a mixed Turkish, Tartar and Wallachian troops of 3000 people against Transylvania. To hold them back, a young civilian Székely, called Gábor deák (Engl. notary Gábor) gathered a small 250-people-strong army, among which there were many women, and, on August 6, near Ditró, the two armies clashed. Gábor's people fought heroically and managed to overcome half of the attackers making the rest of them retreat. This small hill with the obelisk, called the Tatárhalom, (Engl. Tartar hill) is the resting place of the remains of Gábor deák's fallen army, and it is a custom for the local Székelys to go to the top of the hill and drop a handful of soil on it, not to let it fade.
(Picture on the church: Courtesy of Zoltán Farkas)

[Gyergyószentmiklós] GYERGYÓSZENTMIKLÓS (Gheorgheni, Rumania today) is the home of this nice fortified Armenian catholic church, which was built between 1730-1733. People from Armenia settled in Gyergyószentmiklós during the 1670's.


[Gymnasium Bethlenianum]

SZÉKELYUDVARHELY (Odorheiu Secuiesc, Rumania today) is the Székely center, west of the Mountains of Hargita (Hung. Hargitai havasok). Archeological excavations unearthed artifacts dating back to the ancient Dacian and Roman cultures, however, the first written document mentions the town in 1301, during the reign of the Hungarian king of the House of Árpád, telling about the castle here as the residence of certain Székely nobles. In 1485, the renaissance Hungarian king Matthias (1458-1490) gave the town the privilege of a free royal town with the right to hold fairs. It received its present name, Székelyudvarhely, in 1613, from Hungarian Prince of Transylvania Gábor Bethlen. The town has been going through numerous devastating periods, such as wars with the Ottoman (Turkish) troops, Tartars, Habsburgs. For instance, Basta, the sadistic Habsburg commander set entire Székelyudvarhely on fire in 1602. The town actively participated in the Hungarian Liberation Fight of 1848, therefore, after it fell, it was ordered to pay military ransom to the Austrian court.
Székelyudvarhely has a permanent and very active theatrical company.
The Reformed (i.e., Presbyterian) College was founded by count János Bethlen, in 1672. The college, originally called Gymnasium Bethlenianum, was a superior educational institution, which raised students, such as Balázs Orbán, the ethnographer of the Székely-land, Elek Benedek, the author, Miklós Barabás and others. The college building shown here was built in 1768, but when the college moved to a new unit in 1921, this building became a boarding school.

[Szováta] SZOVÁTA The village of Szováta (Sovata, Rumania today) lies in the Transylvanian salt mining region. Szováta, as part of Austria-Hungary, received its characteristic architecture during the 19th century. It is a spa village and has 5 small lakes, i.e, Medve tó, Mogyorósi tó, Fekete tó, Veres tó, Zöld tó (Engl. Bear lake, Hazelnut lake, Black lake, Red lake, Green lake). Shown here the Medve tó (Bear lake), the waters of these lakes are so concentrated with salt that we can float on the top of the water and cannot submerge.
People use the healing effects of the lakes' waters for their rheumatic and gynaecologic problems. The mud of the Fekete tó and Veres tó have healing activity as well.
Bear lake



[Cannon of brass]
The famed
Cannon of

KÉZDIVÁRÁSHELY The area of Kézdivásárhely (Tirgu Secuiesc, Rumania today) was inhabited in the Ancient Ages, since in 1852, they unearthed Roman coins, cups, weapons, etc. here. German-Roman emperor and Hungarian king Sigismund (1387-1437) gave Kézdivásárhely the title of free royal town, allowing it to hold fairs, too. The name Kézdi-Vásárhely was first used by Hungarian king Sigismund János (1559-1571) in 1562.
Kézdivásárhely had been a quiet market-town till the Hungarian Liberation Fight of 1848. When Lajos Kossuth, the leader of the Liberation Fight, needed more artillery, Áron Gábor, who operated a foundry in Kézdivásárhely, came to his help by melting down the church bells, obtained from the Székely villages, and cast cannons from them, which became known as Áron Gábor's famed cannons of brass. Between October 1848 and June, 1849, Áron Gábor's shop cast 68 cannons using over 400 bells, but Kézdivásárhely was also the center of manufacturing gun powder for the war.
The production of the cannons was a major accomplishment, therefore, Áron Gábor and his cannons of brass are remembered in one of the best known Hungarian folk songs, titled (Hung.) Gábor Áron rézágyúja.
A museum bearing his name exhibits tools of the production and one of the cannons, and also Áron Gábor has a statue on the main square of Kézdivásárhely.
The picture on the right shows the plaque on the house where he was born in Bereck (Bretcu, Rumania today), a small village near Kézdivásárhely.
[Statue of Áron Gábor]

[House of Áron Gábor]



KÉZDISZENTLÉLEK After the first Ottoman (Turkish) attacks on Transylvania in the first half of the 15th century, the defense of the country had to be organized. Wherever there was not a castle or a fortress nearby, they pulled walls around the churches thus making them makeshift fortresses, referred to as fortified churches. This picture shows the church of Kézdiszentlélek, which was fortified with walls and circular bastions, in 1401, by Kata Apor, a local heroine. The originally gothic church of was modified tobaroque style in the 18th century. [Fortified church]
fortified church

[Gelence] GELENCE The catholic church of Gelence (Ghelinta, Rumania today) was built in the 13th century but later modified. Surrounded by defensive walls, this church has a very nice baroque furniture, a panel-ceiling dating 1628, and frescos on the walls of the nave showing stories from the legends of Saint László I (1077-1095), the great Hungarian King of Knight. The apse has gothic windows. [Frescos]




CSOMAKÖRÖS This is the interior of the Reformed church at Csomakörös (Chiurus, Rumania today) in the Székley-land. During the Protestant movement in the 16th century, most of the originally Catholic Hungarian population in Transylvania converted to Reformation, whereas the German (Saxon) people became Lutheran (i.e., Evangelical). While during the counter-Reformation (17th century), a considerable number returned to Catholicism, in the Székely-land, about half of the Székelys remained Reformed (very similar to Presbyterian) and beautiful Reformed churches, such as this one, remained not only outstanding landmarks in the country, but actively used worshiping places even today. Note the painted wooden panel-ceiling and the embroidered clothing on the pews. In Csomakörös was born the great Székely Orientalist, linguist and traveller Sándor Kõrösi Csoma (1784-1842) who explored Tibet, studied the Tibetian language and wrote a English-Tibetian dictionary. He became the member of the Hungarian Academy of Science, but death prevented him from further Oriental research; he is buried in Darjeeling, India. [Sándos Kõrösi Csoma]
Sándor Kõrösi Csoma

[Kelemen Mikes]
Kelemen Mikes

his plaque

The old oaks
wait for him...

ZÁGON (Zagon, Rumania today) is a little Székely village in easternmost Székely-land, at the foothills of the Mountains of Háromszék (Hung. Háromszéki havasok). In this village was born Kelemen Mikes, the notary to Hungarian Prince of Transylvania Ferenc Rákóczi II, leader of the anti-Habsburg Rákóczi Liberation Fight 1704-1711. When the Liberation Fight fell, Ferenc Rákóczi II and some of his generals were exiled to Rodos, Turkey. The notary Kelemen Mikes was not exiled; he, dictated by his deep loyalty and devotion for the Prince, voluntarily followed Ferenc Rákóczi II to Rodos. With time passing, and generals dying one by one, Kelemen Mikes was terrified to realize that he could be the last survivor in exile. Indeed he was; when everybody, including Ferenc Rákóczi II, died he remained completely alone in Rodos.
During his life at Rodos, he wrote a steady chain of letters, basically a diary, about the life in exile to his aunt in Zágon, but for some reason, he never sent these letters. If we read these letters we learn about a person suffering from terrible loneliness mixed with never-fading homesickness, a life which he took on himself out of faithfulness.
"I love Rodos too much to forget about Zágon" he writes to his aunt in a letter dated 1761. Earlier, in 1738, he made a journey to Iasi from where he had a perfect view to the Mountains of Háromszék, the mountains hiding his village, Zágon. "Hey, dear auntie, he writes, you can imagine the deep sighs I was taking when I passed by those mountains; I wanted to go there, but somehow God covered the road away from me...". Eventually, he, too, died in Rodos.
The aunt of Kelemen Mikes did not exist. He did not have an aunt anywhere, he made her up. His writing letters to her imaginary figure was probably the escape route for a person, who had a rock-solid faithfulness, love and solidarity for the things he believed in, should it be a leader, country or a voluntary second home. By doing so, he showed that he was a true Székely, and since, he became the role model of self-sacrifice and loyalty, which, after all, was not completely in vain. With his letters from Rodos, Kelemen Mikes laid the foundations of the Hungarian prosaic literature, and he is regarded as the first Hungarian prosaic author.
A plaque was erected on the lot on which the house where he was born once stood, and in the outskirts of Zágon stand the two old oak trees, which, people say, he planted.



[Székely girl]
[Székely costumes]
[Young Székelys]
[Székely girls at Csíksomlyó]
[Székely youth]
[Elderly Székelys]
[Székelys at Csíksomlyó]
Székely kesergõ
Hej, én édes jó Istenem
Oltalmazóm, segedelmem
Vándorlásban reménységem
Ínségemben lágy kenyerem.

Vándorfecske sebes szárnyát
Vándorlegény vándorbotját
Vándor székely reménységét
Jézus, áldd meg Erdély földjét !

Vándorfecske hazatalál
Édesanyja fészkére száll
Hazajöttünk, megáldott a
Csíksomlyói Szûz Mária.

(A Székely song in blue
Text compiled with
aid by Zoltán Farkas)