A long time ago, the village known today as Gârbova was ruled by a rich nobleman. He had a beautiful daughter. She fell in love with a lad, a poor peasant. The two loved each other very much. She asked her father again and again to approve their marriage, but he considered the boy unworthy of his daughter’s hand, after all, she was bringing a big dowry. Finally, the nobleman sets up a marriage to please him. A gorgeous wedding is put together above the village, at the Church on the Hill, where all the people from the surroundings gathered. Forced to walk to the altar, in a final moment of despair, the girl looks toward the sky and begs God to help her and if he cannot, then he should take her life. In that moment, the girl falls to the ground, breathless, and her wreath of flowers turns into stone.
The village of Gârbova , in the district of Alba is found just a few kilometers away from DN1. As we get close to the first houses we see the ruins of a church up on a hill. From the center there is a narrow dirt road that climbs up to it. First we must find the key to open the gate. As we wait for the key keeper, an old lady tells us the legend of the Church on the Hill (“Biserica din Deal”). We also find out that it is a Roman basilica built at the end of the 13th century. It had small stone walls and a ditch for protection. There were even two tunnels that connected it to the village. In 1870, on Christmas Eve, all the young men climbed the hill with torches, all the way to the church. This was the tradition for centuries. But that night, the roof caught fire and the church could not be saved. In the following years, some remains have been demolished and the ditches have been filled. Nowadays, the village cemetery can be found in the yard.
A man with a huge iron key comes toward us. He hands it to us. We leave the last houses, pass through a small wall, then through an orchard all the way to the gate. We use our key and enter. We are now in front of the church. It is simple, not to large, built of stone. Here and there we can make up traces of plaster or pieces of sculptures. The bell tower is still on its feet. Everything is symmetric and in perfect harmony with nature, which blends with the ruins. We can see the small holes that used to be the windows. Several vaulted passages connect it with the exterior. One of them has a marble plaque sculpted with the wreath of stone of the girl that sacrificed her life for true love.
It is an unusual, yet comforting feeling to enter an abandoned church by stepping on green grass, to touch pieces of stone that were put there hundreds of years ago, with no roof above your head and to look directly to the sky in this profound silence.