Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

Gidófalva

Gidófalva Photo: Thaler Tamás

Gidófalva (Ghidfalău) is a Hungarian village in Kovászna County, Romania. It lies 5 km northeast of Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe), along the left bank of the Olt River. On its southern border lay the village of Bedeháza, destroyed during the Mongolian Invasion (1241-1242). The village was first mentioned in 1332 as Villa Guidonis. It is famous for its fortified church that was built by the Hungarian Székely people.

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

The Reformed Church of Gidófalva is located on the high ground surrounding the Olt flood plain, on the edge of the village. It is a medieval fortress that played an important role in protecting the local population. It is one of the fortifications in the Háromszék area that was built jointly by several villages.

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

The first church in the village was probably built in the 13th-14th centuries, with a semicircular enclosure. A remnant of this early church is the Romanesque narrow windowed nave of the present church, which has remained unchanged in size over the centuries. Gidófalva already had a parish church in 1332, and in that year, according to the papal tithe register, 9 old “pieces of coin” were paid. 

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

In 1420 it was mentioned as Gydofalva. The construction of the castle wall surrounding the church and the fortified gate tower dates back to the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. The Gothic rebuilding also took place in the late 15th or early 16th century, when the vaulted sanctuary with five sides of an octagon was built.

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

In the center of the courtyard stands a Gothic church surrounded by a high bastion. Its short nave has windows and a papal tithe dated 1332, marking its Romanesque predecessor. Its place was probably taken in the 15th century by another Gothic church with a nave and choir, whose polygonal sanctuary still stands.

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

The village was listed in the 1567 regestrum with 15 gates (homesteads). The building of the church was burnt down by the Crimean Tartars in 1658, and repairs were made in 1672, as attested by the inscription above the southern entrance.

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

One of the most valuable parts of the church is the main entrance on the south side, which has a Renaissance doorframe with a straight-locked doorway, dating from the 16th or 17th century. The doorframe was built during a repair in the 16th or 17th century, while the arcaded porch in front of it was built much later, in 1787.

Gidófalva Photo: Lánczi Imre

The inscription PAULUS IANCSO AEDILIS, engraved on the “eyebrow stone” of the doorframe, probably commemorates the name of the caretaker who carried out the repairs. The carvings on the doorframe bear the hallmarks of the mature Renaissance. Below the inscription is also the following text:

(M)OTU T./ER/RAE.DBLT. 1802 REPARATA. 1816. EXPEN. (sis) ECL.(lesial REF. GIDOF. (alviensis)

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

The church has a simple blue-painted wooden ceiling. The triumphal arch is now replaced by a semicircular structure with the following Hungarian inscription:

EZEN 700 ÉVES TEMPLOM MEGÚJULT 1936 ÉVBEN (Meaning: this 700-year-old church was renewed in the year 1936)

Gidófalva Photo: Lánczi Imre

The bell tower, which once served as the gate tower protecting the entrance to the cemetery, rises just three meters to the southeast of the church. A Baroque portico was later added as an extension in front of the entrance to the tower. The medieval side walls of the first, second, and third floors above the doorway have narrow loopholes.

Gidófalva Photo: Lánczi Imre

The medieval part of the tower is made of stone, with walls 160 centimeters thick at the base, 130 centimeters on the first and second floors, and 110 centimeters on the third floor.

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

The still almost intact ramparts of the Gidófalva church fortress were built to protect the church, which was rebuilt in the 15th century. The defensive wall is 1.20 meters wide, 4-5 meters high, and made of oval-shaped stones.

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

On the outside of the fortress are engraved names and dates: 1501, G.BAKAI 1602, GEOR. Nag, G.z. 1695, S.P. S 1628, 1609, M.G.R. 1672. N.G.P., B.B. 1673.

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

In addition to the main entrance and the walled doorway, the castle wall had another entrance, the trace of which can be seen in the wall section next to the south side of the tower. Neither loopholes nor any other openings survived in the walls.

Gidófalva Photo: Mayer Jácint

The village was destroyed by fire in 1713. In 1764 it became the headquarters of the First Székely Hussars regiment. The church was badly damaged by two major earthquakes in 1802 and 1816. The painted ceiling of the church was also destroyed. First, the tower was repaired and raised, and at the same time, the old shingled roof with its balcony design was removed. When the tower was rebuilt, one of the bells, dating from 1642, was re-cast. In 1850 the village was again destroyed by fire.

Gidófalva Photo: Lánczi Imre

The old organ was replaced by a new one in 1817, donated by Bartha B. Lajos and his wife Jancsó T. Zsuzsanna. The large bell was completed in 1834, and in 1968 a 200 kg bell was cast. In 1936, the church was repaired and the Romanesque windows of the nave were dismantled.

Gidófalva Photo: Lánczi Imre

We have to mention a famous historical figure who was born in Gidófalva in 1822. He was Czetz János, the youngest general of the 1848/49 War of Independence of Hungary. Czetz János was an excellent soldier with Armenian-Székely roots. After the fall of the War of Independence, he continued his military career in Argentina, to the point where he founded the Argentine Military Academy, of which he was the director for five years, and his memory is preserved in Argentina. On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Czetz János, a bust was unveiled in his home village, in the courtyard of the school named after him.

Gidófalva Photo: Lánczi Imre

In 1910 it had 925 Hungarian inhabitants. Until the Treaty of Trianon, it belonged to the district of Sepsi in the county of Háromszék. The church suffered earthquake damage in 1940 and 1977. In 1992, 1106 of its 1113 inhabitants were Hungarian, and 7 were Romanian.

Gidófalva Photo: Lánczi Imre

Source: Hungarian Wikipedia

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Here are many pictures of the fortified church of Gidófalva: