History of the church - Reformed church of Acâș

Templom belso kep

The Reformed church of Acâș is one of the largest church in the Carpathian Basin, which has a basilica-like arrangement, and it also retained its original, Romanesque style features. The village belonged to Solnokul de mijloc and then to the Tășnad district of Sălaj (Szilágy) county and it was built on the plain of Crasna river and the still existing Reformed church was erected in the 12th and 13th centuries by the Ákos clan, located on their demesne, and it was meant to be the monastery of the family in order to serve as a mutual place for worship and burial for the widespread clan.

The settlement was mentioned in our documents for the first in 1342 under the name of Ákosmonostora. It is considered, that the ancestor of the clan’s Ákosi branch, master Ákos the Great was the patron, who had the church built – however, this cannot be certainly proved by written documents – and it is probable that he trusted the monks of the Order of Saint Benedict to run the family’s monastery.

In the second half of the century the parish church had been already used by the Protestants. The village’s first known minister, Mihály Harsányi, was sent there by the Synod of Tășnad in 1597. In 1642, the church had been destroyed by fire and also by the Ottomans, and it became so damaged, that the services had to be held in the gallery. The village suffered a decrease in the number of its population during Rákóczi’s War of Independence and as a result of the wars with the Ottomans in the 17th century. Soon after finishing the restoration through many hardship and difficulty, in 1747 a thunder stroke set the church on fire; its ceiling and the major part of the wooden furnishing was made again by the joiner János Pataki Asztalos. The still existing painted benches, the rooftop of the pulpit and the choir stalls can probably be credited to the same person.

The church acquired its present form in the 12th century, it was entirely built in Romanesque style: it is a triple-aisled basilica made of brick, its frontispiece was built with two towers, it has a huge round-arched apse which closes towards east, the ceiling of the nave is flat but the aisles have opened ceiling, whose western galleries could be reached through wooden staircase flatted against the walls of the northern aisle. During excavations made until now, the building of the medieval monastery could not be found, but a lot of graves belonging to the medieval and modern cemetery were excavated and it is certain that on the northern side a round-arched chapel was annexed to the church. According to some experts, the huge round-arched apse, which closes the sacristy, was originally planned to be built between the two eastern towers, this is proven by the floor above the vaulted side-apse, which was open toward the main apse and served as an oratory in the medieval period, which was private gallery for the monks. The outlook of the church is dominated by the double-towered western facade, cut across with twin windows, which are decorated with lesenes and various parts are framed by arcature. The brick structure of the nave is fragmented by narrow Romanesque windows, the aisles end in a straight line, and they are also fragmented by tiny windows.

The basilica-like aspect of the church is given by the fact, that nave in the middle is higher than the two aisles, which are separated on both sides from the nave by an archway based on square pillars. The eastern ending of both aisles are closed with arched apsis. According to the architecture representative for the lowlands in the Romanesque period, they hardly used any other material but thin brick and some ashlar at the two round-arched doors and at the windows of the tower.

The church went through a significant renovation and transformation between 1896 and 1902, which was led by Frigyes Schulek and it was financially supported by the Monuments’ National Commission. During this process, the medieval walling was reconditioned, the frontispiece of the nave was erected, and also the two upper floors of the southern tower and the upmost floor of the northern tower, the steeple with a windlass and the western portico were built.

The building still retains its impressive appearance and remains one of Transylvania’s most visited medieval monument.

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