For believers in Rumania, churches are rather like holes through which God can see them – and they can hope in him. When they come across such a temple, they proceed to the front of the building, halt for a moment, and make the sign of the cross over themselves at least once. They do this even when they are sitting in the tram or driving the car. I’ve even seen a runner dressed in colourful jogging attire, «Nike» from head to toe, slowing down into a sideways trot before the Biserica Sfântul Anton and crossing himself with the sacred sign twice, before carrying on forward – a cross-training of a kind.
How did the believers feel when Nicolae Ceaucescu went about building his high-rise city all around these mostly small churches? The most powerful shadow cast here to this day is by the Casa Poporului, which rose from the ground between 1983 and 1989, the greatest structure of Europe, the crowning of a megalomaniacal city design, the likes of which no other dictatorship in this world has realised.
Behind this symbol of extreme tyranny lies Izvor Park. Here, since 2007, the Orthodox Church of Rumania has been building the Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului Românesc, the cathedral for the salvation of the Rumanian people. According to archbishop Bartolomeu Anania, an urgent and crucial venture since «collective redemption has to be collectively gained through the entire nation». It is supposed to be the greatest unorthodox church in the world – the centre of a gigantic, largely subterranean complex with hotels, restaurants, shops, workshops, etc. Here, up to 125,000 believers can be received or captured at the same ti
First Publication: 3-6-2014