Around 150 visitors at the panel discussion in Berlin

The announcement of the Fortified Churches Foundation to organise an event from the series KirchenburgenGespräch on Tour (fortified churches panel discussion abroad) for the first time aroused great public interest. On 8 March 2019, the almost 150 visitors experienced an exciting panel discussion entitled “Travel – Save – Restore” in the Romanian Embassy in Berlin.

Rumänische Botschaft / Berlin

Organising side events at the International Tourism Fair (ITB) in Berlin is already a tradition for the Fortified Churches Foundation. This year, however, for the first time, a fortified churches panel discussion took place directly in the centrally located representative building of the Romanian Embassy in Berlin’s Dorotheenstrasse 62-66. Ambassador Emil Hurezeanu, for years a passionate supporter of the Foundation and a friend of the Evanghelical Church A. C. in Romania, welcomed the guests and participants as host with a very personal speech. Philipp Harfmann (Managing Director of the Fortified Churches Foundation), Bishop Reinhart Guib and Dr. Harald Roth (German Cultural Forum Eastern Europe) also greeted the audience.

Afterwards on the podium, Prof. Dr. Paul Zalewski (Europe-University Viadrina), Ștefan Vaida (restorer from Alțîna) and tourism expert Ruth István (Fortified Churches Foundation) discussed with moderator Stefan Bichler (EKR) about the importance of specialist trips in terms of the preservation of cultural heritage.

Ruth István considered the development of tourism to the fortified churches against the background of global developments and current information from the ITB. She reported on the special features of the specialist tourism sector, in which the Fortified Churches Foundation has become an indispensable partner for specialist institutions in recent years. Professor Zalewski has been touring Transylvania for many years with the students of the graduating class of the university course “Protection of European Cultural Heritage” at the Viadrina University in Frankfurt/Oder. His explanations made the importance of specialized tourism for the value and preservation of cultural heritage particularly clear. Finally, the link to practice was made by restorer Ștefan Vaida, who has worked on several sacred and profane buildings in Transylvania and runs the “Interethnic Harbachtal Museum” in his home town of Alțîna.

After the event, the guests – many of whom had been invited by the German Cultural Forum Eastern Europe – were able to exchange personal impressions and experiences with the discussants and guests from Transylvania until late in the evening and discuss specific questions on tourism and cultural heritage.

Text: Stefan Bichler
Photos: Ines Huber und Stefan Bichler