Merchant's House, vestiges dating back to the 14th century

5 November 2018

Merchant's House, vestiges dating back to the 14th century

The Merchant’s House on Turnului street in Sibiu has its beginning in the fourteenth century. It has been accurately dated by specialists after the remains of a Gothic sprocket found in the attic of the house. Located in one of the most picturesque areas of the old town, in the "Lower Town", in a historic square, the building is part of the small circle of urban residences, built between the 1300s and the 1400s. In comparison, the oldest house in Bucharest, the Melik House – currently Theodor Pallady Museum, has a history of only 250 years.

A historic monument of exceptional value, the house is today a notable presence within the urban landscape of the first European cultural capital in Romania. The massive roof, the special shape of the construction and a number of architectural elements – that are only scarcely present in the other buildings in the old centre of the former Saxon burg –, are few of the elements that individualize it. The architect Ioan Bucur describes the house in the work "The Topography of the Monuments inTransylvania. Sibiu – Old Town" as a "trapezoidal building with the façade facing the square from the intersection of the Turnului (tower) street and other three streets. The façade is organized on four axes, with full shutters and a wooden panel for the "company" logo (made around 1900).

The high, hip roof, parallel to the façade, has two eye shaped skylight windows. The wing from the side façade is covered with clay roof tiles. On the ground floor the arched shaped ceilings were restored with metallic rails (...) Upstairs there is a semi-cylindrical corridor with two structural bays crossing each other. "

The wall painting of the sixteenth century, the traces of a copper oven, a knight’s spur, a coin from 1572, are few of the discoveries made by archaeologists which talk about the distant past of the house. Much more widely documented is its recent history. The building belonged in the beginning of the twentieth century to the Butcher's Association, and several commercial spaces functioned at the ground floor. The house was later on the residence of Maria Klein Hintz, piano player, and afterwards it became the property of the Romanian merchant Ilie Floasiu until its nationalization by the communist regime.

Currently, the house built on a 196 sqm of land, out of which 189 sqm are occupied by the building's footprint, undergoes a painful restoration process. The work started in 2007 ceased for the time being, but it have saved it from extinction. Underpinning were made and metal tying plates were mounted on the walls. The ground floor was lowered, a concrete belt was poured and the framing was replaced so that the building reached its initial shape and gauge. The copper gutters, the tile replacement, the skylights restoration, the installation of new service pipes, all have been done with a special care for the preservations of the authentic elements. The decorative paintings of the sixteenth century on the façade of the house were also saved, while the interior wall decorations, including a fresco, were highlighted and preserved.

Even if there are still things to be done, the Merchant’s House on Turnului Street is already an attraction of the area. The owner often made it available to young artists looking for unconventional spaces, thus art exhibitions and theatre plays took place in-between its walls. Its location in the heart of the old town tells a lot about the future of the property. The tourist and commercial potential are ensured by the proximity to the main attractions in Sibiu. The Great Market, the Little Market and Stairs Passage are just a few hundred meters away. And the immediate vicinity of the building is rich in stories that promise the success of any marketing campaign. On Turnului Street, at number 5, the first Romanian leather shop was opened.

Opened right after the Great Union, in 1919, merchant Gheorghe Limpede's business would mark the beginning of a rapid expansion of the Romanian capital towards the old Saxon urban centres. The impressive estate at number 6 belonged to a baron of the Habsburg Empire. The monogram on the frontispiece of the building, dated in 1704, marks the year when merchant Martin Wenkel receives, along the noble title, the property from Emperor Charles VI. A monastery, a prison, and the first brewery in Romania wrap up the list of historical buildings on Turnului Street, an artery where an important page from the history of Transylvanian trade was written.

Source: Artmark Historical Estate