Documentarily attested since 1331, the village Sântămărie – Orlea is located on the national road that connects Petroșani and Hațeg. It houses one of the most imposing historical monuments in Hunedoara County, a place of worship built on a small plateau on the outskirts of the village, a short distance from the old castle of the noble family Kendeffy, which now belongs to the Reformed church after once being Catholic.

The Sântămăria-Orlea Reformed-Calvinist Church is one of the oldest churches in Romania, being built towards the end of the 13th century. Consisting of a vaulted nave, a tower on the west façade and a rectangular altar vaulted in a cross on the ogives, it presents architectural forms specific to the transition from Romanesque to early Gothic, and inside there are valuable set of murals.


Built of rough stone and edged stone at the edges, the church attracts attention not only by the neat appearance of its high walls, but especially by the beauty of the portals and windows, with carefully executed columns and frames.
The secular place of worship is lit by narrow windows with semicircular openings, while the rectangular nave is provided, on the south side, with a Romanesque portal. According to the technical characteristics, in its western part there is a tribune, attached after 1447, placed on a wall of octagonal and separated from the body of the bell tower.

To the east, the architectural composition of the monument also includes a rectangular altar (6.24 x 6.40 m), vaulted crosswise on the ogives, with massive ribs that rest on consoles with a flowery decoration. The square tower, with five levels, has a Romanesque portal on the ground floor, with a rich carved decoration. On the first floor, the presence of a Gothic window is due to an intervention after the construction of the monument.

Instead, the windows on the top floors are Romanesque and belong to the initial construction phase. The roof, rebuilt during one of the many renovation sites to which the cult building was subjected over time, consists of four triangular stone pediments and an extended pyramid.


The church attracts with majesty and there are many who stop to visit it. Access to the interior is particularly easy, because the "key keepers" come immediately, very kindly, and ask you if you want to visit, if you stopped to admire this imposing church that has guarded Sântămărie Orlea for centuries. And the interior is as spectacular as the exterior highlighting several phases of the transformation of the holy place of worship over the centuries.

However, this place of worship falls into the category of monuments whose history is shrouded in an aura of mystery. Even the opinions of historians have been and are widely shared as to who founded this church and to which denomination it belonged. This controversy contributes to this aura of mystery.

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