Saxon Church in Alma Vii

This project rescued and restored a cultural landmark that symbolises centuries of history and craftsmanship in the picturesque village of Alma Vii in Transylvania, Romania. The comprehensive restoration not only preserved the church’s architectural and historical integrity but also empowered the local community, fostered sustainable tourism development, and revitalised the village’s cultural heritage. The project was coordinated by Mihai Eminescu Trust and supported by the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) and EEA Grants.

Saxon Church in Alma Vii, ROMANIA

Alma Vii, a traditional Transylvanian Saxon village, is known for its fortified church, a testament to centuries of history and craftsmanship. The church and its surroundings were in a state of disrepair, making preservation a pressing concern. The masonry, composed of both stones from the 14th century and handcrafted bricks from the 16th century, was non-homogeneous, resulting in structural weaknesses and visibly pronounced cracks, large fissures from past interventions, dislocations, and compromised joints. Plasters on the facades were deteriorated, especially on the northern side, leading to interior masonry issues. The wooden structure suffered from rot, humidity, and insect infestation.

The project’s integrated approach to conservation was strongly related to the implementation of a multifaceted strategy that combined high-quality restoration methods, sustainable heritage site valorisation, community engagement, strategic planning for sustainable development, and economic empowerment. The restoration works adheres to best practices, embracing minimal, reversible interventions using traditional local building materials and techniques. Skilled architects, engineers, and builders experienced in historic restoration were integral to the project. Restoration included repairing cracks in walls, re-binding stones and bricks, cleaning and pointing dislocated mortar with lime mortar, rebuilding deteriorated buttresses and ring wall segments, and repairing the damaged wooden roof structure. The church sacristy was also saved from collapse through the reconstruction of the vault.

Saxon Church in Alma Vii, ROMANIA

The project placed a significant emphasis on engaging the local community in heritage revitalisation through meetings, events, and educational workshops. These activities were designed to raise awareness about the value of cultural heritage, explore the protection and conservation of local heritage, and identify together with community members new functions for the church after completing restoration works. This was especially relevant as the church’s Saxon community had mostly left the village by the end of the 1990s.

The project not only breathed new life into a historical monument but also invigorated the community. It has become a catalyst for sustainable tourism, economic opportunities, and cultural exchange. The project’s holistic approach involved community engagement, education, and international collaboration.


The conservation of the Saxon Church in Alma Vii is a strong example for fortified churches, and for religious heritage which no longer has a surrounding, original community to care for it. The meticulous yet minimal intervention ensured the use of compatible materials and solutions which were sensitive to the original structure. This is evident in how the original bricks and tiles were retained, and how the patina was conserved. This sustainable approach is also evident in the high-quality results, achieved with limited funding. The project has restored the cultural landscape of this small village, and included community engagement to the highest level, thus instilling a sense of responsibility for this heritage”, the Awards’ Jury said.

Contact: Sabin Paltarac, Mihai Eminescu Trust | |