According to the UNESCO operational guide, a cultural property complies with the authenticity conditions if its cultural values are honestly and credibly expressed through a range of attributes, such as “form and design, material and substances, use and functions, traditions, management techniques and systems, location and positioning, language and other forms of immaterial patrimony, spirit and sensation, and other internal and external factors” [1
]. The UNESCO criteria target the assessment of the tangible as well as intangible patrimonial elements in the landscape. The immaterial aspects belonging to culture have an identity and memorial value [2
] and they need special preservation, saving, and protection measures [3
]. The Saxons’ culture can be observed at the level of the analyzed vernacular architecture, language and dialect, and building techniques, as well as of the interior of their houses, their products, and design [4
]. The specificity of the Saxon architectural style developed gradually within the eight centuries of colonization of the southern part of Transylvania. It developed following the needs of people, with the historical, political, and economic events that influenced their life, as well as with their culture and specific lifestyle [5
] and, based on this relationship between the culture and the vernacular architecture of houses, it became an important instrument of promoting cultural sustainability [6
]. Taking into consideration that most of the resilience is registered by the Saxon material patrimony [7
] because of the high degree of preservation of the Saxon traditional houses and the fortified citadel of Harman, this becomes an important cultural resource, as well as an important factor in preserving the cultural memory and social knowledge, ensuring continuity [8
]. The enrolment of Harman cultural property on the UNESCO list provides an important contribution to the increase of the resilience of the Saxon material patrimony [7
] to the preservation of local culture and patrimony as a sustainability objective [9
] towards the preservation of cultural diversity [9
]. The nomination of the Hărman rural site on World Heritage List UNESCO is necessary for the preservation of the cultural identity and the territorial specificity [14
] of the cultural property, considering these attributes are at risk of disappearing under the socio-economic impact and the landscape dynamics impact [15
]. There is a risk of the appearance of fundamental rupture between the current structure of the landscape and the processes that shaped it in the past [20
], if it is not soon given an international protection status to preserve the current heritage of the Saxons. The nomination on the UNESCO list shall increase the resilience of the historical center in front of the risk factors. The vernacular patrimony built in the historical centre of Hărman is subject to economic pressures and to the changes that affect the landscape in general, meaning that its heritages could be regarded as the only solution to ensure continuity, authenticity, and integrity. The nomination shall streamline and guarantee the preservation process for the quality of the cultural values of the Hărman cultural landscape, as well as ensure the international protection legal framework on a big land surface of 63.47 ha and a buffer area of 290.09 ha. Currently, the historical centre as a whole, as a compact and coherent center, does not benefit from protected status; only two singularly treated elements benefit from protection at the national level—in this case, the fortified church complex and the house on Dorobanţi Street, no. 81. We propose nominating Hărman in the evolutive cultural landscape patrimony category under cultural criteria ii, iii, and v.
Criteria ii. Hărman represents a remarkable example in terms of vernacular architecture, monumental arts, and urbanism in a time frame that extends for more than eight centuries. The settlement represents a fusion of the Saxon vernacular architecture brought by the Saxon colonists from their area of origin, along with defensive elements in the form of fortified cities. The vernacular architecture reflects the social, economic, and environmental traditions [21
], considering their economy was based on plant growing and animal rearing. The coherence of the style, the form and construction materials used, the functionality of the buildings and the annexes, as well as the expertise of the tradition informally perpetuated form the so-called vernacular style [22
Criteria iii. Hărman preserves a unique and exceptional testimony of a disappearing cultural tradition. The Hărman rural site is a historical testimony of the Saxons’ colonization process in Transylvania. The Saxon settlements became vulnerable under the impact of irreversible changes in the past two decades, and the cultural heritage of the Saxons could currently disappear.
Criteria v. The village preserves the marks of human intervention on the territory through the division of the lands, the central position of the fortress type church, and the spatial organization forming a coherent entity with historical value [23
]. It also preserves the elements of a history marked by the invasions of the Turks and the Mongolians in the XII–XIII centuries [24
], which caused the Saxon communities to adapt by building fortified churches.
3.1. Tangible Heritage
According to the inventory of Saxons buildings made on the base of the map from 1940 and the information on situ offered by Mr Hans Greff, in 1940, there were 331 Saxon buildings. Of the 331 Saxon buildings, 260 are currently preserved, while 71 were demolished or completely transformed, representing 21.45% of the total. After assessing the authenticity status based on Table A1
, individually applied, building by building, it was noticed that, from the total of 260 Saxon buildings, 19.23% have an exceptional authenticity, 33.46% have a good authenticity, 31.92% average, and 15.38% low. The percentage of buildings in a low authenticity state is relatively small (15.38%), an aspect favorable to the nomination. Moreover, the weight of those with exceptional and good authenticity sums up to 52.69%. From a territorial point of view, the authenticity state is the following on the streets (Table 1
, Figure 5
In relation to the spatial distribution of the degree of authenticity of the tangible heritage in the north-east region, a very high concentration of buildings with exceptional, good, and average authenticity was noticed, an aspect due to the following criteria: form (the original form of the roof, the traditional model of the tiles on the house, original size, chimney, ventilations, inscriptions, and ornaments), age, and functions. In the north-west of Hărman, we have also noticed a high density of the buildings with exceptional and good authenticity values determined by the following criteria: form and design (the original one for the roof, gate, windows, size, and planimetry), traditional materials (of the roof covering, windows), age (between 1850 and 1900), inscriptions, ornaments of the facades, and functions. The south-west and south-east sectors suffered the most transformation, so that the weight of buildings with average and low authenticity has higher values, as the criteria of construction materials (the traditional ones were replaced with modern ones) and shape (the traditional shape of the gate, of the windows disappeared, and so on) were not observed, new functions appeared—commercial, administrative, recreational, public catering, and so on. Still, half have high authenticity as the criteria shape (of the roof, windows), size, and age (all are from the 1850–1900 period) have been meet. The south-east sector can be noticed through high values of authenticity as all buildings are very old (they all correspond to the 1850–1900 period); they also comply with some aspects regarding the design and form criteria, but the most vulnerable to changes were traditional construction materials, especially those used for gates, windows, and roof. We emphasize that the planimetry and value of the construction remained untouched.
The traditional construction materials most replaced were the flake tiles and wood. Currently, only 80 buildings still have the original tiles, representing 30.76% of the total, and most are located on the following streets: Mihai Viteazul (18), Avram Iancu (19), and Ştefan cel Mare (16). A total of 107 buildings maintained the traditional form and model of the gate, that is, 41.15% of the total, out of which 60 gates are made of wood, representing 23.07%, and 47 maintained the built access, but replaced the wood with sheet and wrought iron. It is considered that form and design increase the intrinsic value of the building, such as the aesthetic and cultural value [38
]. It is noticed that, from a total of 260 Saxon buildings, 183 maintained the traditional shape of the roof, representing 70.38% of the total. The results show us that the local community appreciates the role of the heritage in local identity [39
As a result of the on situ assessment, it was noticed that 68.84% of the total buildings analysed are in a very good preservation state, 23.46% are in a good state, 5.76% acceptable, and 1.92% in a degradation state (Figure 6
The factors that have contributed to the preservation of the authenticity of the material patrimony are the following: Evangelic church, Saxon’s diaspora from Germany, uncertain property rights of buildings during the communist period, group cohesion, and local community [7
The SPSS analysis proved, through the Spearman correlation coefficient, that there is no strong connection between the two variables. The values of the Spearman coefficient registered the following values: −0.119, which indicates a null correlation, and 0.268 and −0.323, which indicate an acceptable correlation. In this case, we can talk about acceptable correlation between the results of the assessment of the patrimony and the number of interviewed persons, which do not appreciate and are indifferent to its values (Table 2
, Figure 7
3.2. Intangible Heritage
A series of immaterial components of the cultural heritage have continuity with a persistence degree on the level of the Saxon community, and we refer to the following: publications, newspapers, and magazines; the German language and Saxon dialect; culinary receipts, confirmation festivity of the youth, Saxon choir, agricultural practices, religious ceremonies, ceremonies, and practices related to the death cult; and religion ceremonies for Easter and Christmas, whose resilience, although low [7
], confers Hărman cultural landscape its authenticity. The Saxon dialect and the German language are currently spoken by a small number of persons, around 50, and the German School with instruction in the language of the minorities terminated its activity as it did not have enough students. The whole responsibility related the perpetuation of the immaterial traditions belongs to the Evangelic Parish and to the Fortified Citadel. The administrative staff handles the promotion, preservation, and management of the citadel and of the evangelic cemetery, as well as the organization of cultural and religious activities and events (Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide, Mother’s Day, Harvest Day, Musica Barcensis, and so on). Currently, the following forms of immaterial patrimony are preserved (Figure 8
): the Saxon choir, passing on the job of pipe organ repair man and producer; pipe organ concerts held in the fortified citadels in Country Bârsei from the series Musica Barcensis, publication in German; the museum opened in the citadel; the meeting of the Saxons from Hărman; and the annual attendance of the Hărman inhabitants at the Dinkelsbühl festival in Germany organized each year for the Whitsundite. The Saxon choir of Hărman is currently formed by 15 members. They sing at the religious mass and for evangelic holidays, and attend concerts in the country and abroad. In October 2018, they attended the Meeting of the Hărman inhabitants in Germany, which took place in Rothenburg ob det Taube.
The concerts of the series Musica Barcensis are organized each year between July and August in the fortified citadels in Rupea, Braşov-Bartholomew Church, Hălchiu, Sânpetru, Hărman, Vulcan, Prejmer, Ghimbav, The Black Church, Cristian, and Râşnov. The publication Story of the Hărman inhabitants/Honigberger Heimatbrief is an annual publication printed in Germany, also distributed in Hărman. Further, this publication became one with tradition owing to the diaspora, being continuously reissued from 1984. In relation to the criteria feelings and spirit, the results of the questionnaires showed that 80% of the subjects show a strong historical feeling for the historical landscape, 71.42% regret the migration of the Saxons from Hărman, 68.57% have feelings of attachment and belonging, and 54.28% give a special importance to the memory of the Saxons and to their cultural inheritance. The feeling of belonging shown by the inhabiting population is the result of the socialization process between individuals, exceeding the ethnical limits or those imposed by birth.
The purpose of the research was the evaluation of the authenticity and preservation of the Saxon cultural heritage and the most important segment of the Harman rural landscape, from the point of view of high resilience, density, and uniqueness of the exceptional heritage value represented by the historic center, which comprises a compact group of 260 traditional Saxon houses. This typology of the individual Saxon house is unique in Romania; it represents the expression of vernacular Saxon culture, along with the Hărman fortified fortress having a decisive role for nomination to the WHL.
The answer to the first research question is a positive one, as the results of the research highlighted that 84.61% of the total buildings have an exceptional, good, and average authenticity. Thus, the authenticity criterion according to UNESCO is reached, justifying the nomination. Still, we insist on the most frequent transformations that happened in relation to the authenticity of the Saxon material patrimony, analysed to bring attention to the future risks to which it is permanently submitted, on the need to benefit from a UNESCO protected status. The most frequent physical deteriorations were registered at the following levels: Franconian house model, the rooms belonging to the summer kitchen were demolished, the chimneys were demolished, the cellar ventilation was obstructed, introducing elements not related to the style, widening the windows or turning two into one, the shape of the traditional gate model was destroyed either by removing the masonry or by increasing the size of the gate or both, shrill colours of the façade and of the roof, and by removing the ridged roof shape with dull fronton and pinion [42
]. The owners either built an attic or another floor, or replaced the flake roof tiles with metallic tiles. Analysing by comparison the two categories of results regarding the authenticity and preservation state of the Saxon buildings, it was noticed that most owners constantly invested in the preservation of the buildings, the proof being that 92% are in a very good (69%) and good state (23%) (Figure 9
Unfortunately, this very high percentage cannot be connected with the authenticity state or, better said, does not have a positive impact on the authenticity of the buildings, as only 19% of them have an exceptional state and 34% have a good one. The owners have preserved the buildings using new construction materials in an uncontrolled form, affecting the authenticity and integrity. Failing to apply actual measures for protecting and preserving the local tangible heritage, which target the observance of strict urbanism rules and of campaigns to inform the local population about the patrimonial value of the Saxon buildings, the owners have preserved them in a non-traditional manner, negatively influencing the authenticity state. The authenticity state of the Saxon buildings was not altered as a result of the financial shortages necessary for the preservation; on the contrary, the owners have invested a lot in performing inappropriate restoration works (for example, a wrought iron gate with opaque plastic mass background is much more expensive than a traditional wooden one). Still, legally, the owners did not violate Law no. 422/2001, as only the Fortified Evangelic Church Complex (church, chapel, tower, fortified premise, the fortification ditch) and the house on Dorobanţi Street, no. 81 are found on list A of historical monuments classified at national level; the remaining buildings in the historical center of Hărman did not arouse the interest of the specialists and of the local authorities to be classified at national level. The same situation is found at level B of the list of monuments of regional importance; in it, Hărman has no building included for heritage because of the failure to classify them on lists A and B; the owners were able to interfere on the vernacular architecture without infringing any law. This situation over time increases the risk of irreversible degradation of the authenticity and patrimonial value of the Saxon buildings, a risk that could be diminished through the involvement of the local authorities in the heritage process of the historical center of Hărman and its nomination in lists A and B of the National Cultural Patrimony and WHL. The speed of the transformations in the landscape requires urgent measures. In 2016, we gave this group of buildings special patrimonial value because of their historical age (they are from 1820–1840) and the authenticity elements they preserved (Figure 10
After two years, in June 2018, this street front was changed, as can be noticed from Figure 11
The image of the street front changed, as well as the volume–height ration, the proportions, and elevation of room no. 413. The following question is also legitimate: What should the owners have done in this case? Were there other solutions? Of course! Considering the significant length of the plot, the owners could have built a new building in the back of the yard in the area occupied before by the enclosures and completely maintain the integrity of the building facing the street. At the same time, the authenticity criteria from the perspective of material heritage (constructed authenticity) may contribute to the sustainable development of cultural landscape analyzed from the perspective of the reoccurrence of traditional lifestyle, revitalization of traditional activities, history and culture through the valuation of cultural patrimony, and tourist satisfaction [43
Can the cultural property of Harman be nominated to the UNESCO WHL?
The answer is also positive for the second research question. The preservation stage of the analyzed material patrimony registered very high values; only 1.92% of the total buildings are in a degradation stage, which is the reason this UNESCO indicator, together with the authenticity one, is also met. In this context, we appreciate the special role played by the owners of this valuable cultural heritage in the appointing process, as holders of the authenticity and preservers of heritage values [44
]. The high resilience of Saxon material patrimony when it comes to the preservation of its authenticity is due, to some extent, to the owners of these Saxon houses that wanted to keep their original traits, be they Saxon owners or those of another nationality. The owners most often invoke vernacular construction advantages and certain constraints dictated by them. Among the advantages, we note the following: the proportions; the size; the volume (even if more than 100 years old, the fact that they were oversized in the past makes them fit current needs); the construction technique of Saxon houses (offers them a highly resistant structure to earthquakes and current climate change); the construction materials; and their method of combination—the Saxons combined stone, brick, clay mortar, and paste lime to ensure the resistance and rigidity of the buildings [46
]. The architectural style developed by the Saxons in the XVII th and XVIII th centuries has such high durability that the owners came to appreciate its advantages in the modern day. We have observed a series of architectonic constraints that are actually disadvantages for the current owners, but favour the preservation of the authenticity of the village, including the following: closed street front comprised of a series of house pediments and yard walls that are connected and the positioning of houses on the street axis. These two traits that pertain to landscaping and the coherence of Saxon vernacular architecture are very hard to transform by the actual owners and would imply the complete demolition of the building. When the new owners changed the destinations of Saxon tradition houses, they resorted to their demolition as well, but only in exceptional cases. The owners of Saxon houses older than 1850 who were from poorer categories located at the outskirts of the historic center are more likely to destroy their integrity.
Unfortunately, the owners manage their patrimony alone; in Harman, specialists have never implemented projects with objectives included in some national strategies, such as the following: objective 5 of the National Strategy for Romania’s durable development, Horizons 2013–2020–2030, priority axis 1 in the Strategy for Culture, and National Patrimony 2016–2022 (SCPN 2016-2022). Without the help of specialists, as well as the involvement of local authorities and some NGOs without a national or international protection status, the owners will not succeed to manage this valuable heritage alone.
To support his candidature, we can use an international vernacular architecture model registered on UNESCO WHL, such as Holasovice historic village in the Czech Republic [23
]. From our point of view, the rural site Hărman is much more valuable than the historical village Holasovice in the Czech Republic registered in WHL in 1998 because, unlike this, Hărman preserves not only the tangible heritage (vernacular architecture), but also the intangible one. Unlike the historic village Holasovice, whose historical and cultural tradition attributed to German settlers was abruptly interrupted after World War II by their expulsion [23
], in Hărman, there lives a German community that continues to preserve its intangible heritage. Unlike the international model of Holasovice, whose evolutionary process was interrupted in the XX th century, Hărman can be nominated in the category of evolutive cultural landscape thanks to the continuity of cultural traditions, and the perpetuation of intangible heritage.
From theory to practice
This experience has taught us that the best results and conclusions are obtained only through the application of various research methods used in the collection of primary and secondary data; in our case, all the methods correspond to the purposes and objectives of the research. The inventory allowed the delimitation of the area submitted for nominalization, and the results obtained following the application of this method offered spatial and temporal information. The results could not have been obtained from other sources, with the one mentioned above being the only one best suited for the purpose of the research. From our point of view, the analytical sheet for the authenticity status as a method was compatible with the purpose of the research, as the assessment process for tangible heritage authenticity (of Saxon houses) should only be made using an analytical grid with clear evaluation criteria. Following the application of the analytical sheet, we obtained current, updated information for 2018 on the authenticity of the Saxon tangible heritage. The results obtained through the application of the marking grid may contain some errors, following the fact that some information was offered by owners, or it was obtained through empirical means. Regarding the method of in situ observations, this is frequently used by specialists in the field of heritage conservation, and we have adapted it to our reality in the field. The qualitative data obtained through the questionnaires [47
] or analytical sheets were processed and interpreted statistically and cartographically. For the evaluation of the heritage values possessed by the cultural property Harman, we selected the questionnaire method because it represents a popular and very useful tool in the evaluation of the population’s perception [48
]. The results obtained through the questionnaire method could not have been obtained from other sources, and these can be used by authorities [49
]. At the same time, by applying this method, we acknowledge the special role that the local population plays in the process of preservation, protection, and management of the Saxon cultural heritage. In our case, some of the methods have had a complementary role, thus the in situ reconstruction was included in subchapter C (age) of the authenticity analytical sheet.
The achievement of this research has become really difficult at the moment of correlation between the UNESCO criteria and the research methods currently used within the academic field. The main challenge was to introduce the sociological, statistical, and interdisciplinary research methods to justify the UNESCO criteria as far as these have a descriptive feature and they primarily require some traditional descriptive methods. Moreover, we observed the lack of quantitative and qualitative indicators within the UNESCO specialized literature associated with the achievement of authenticity and preservation of the cultural property in order to be nominated for WHL. For this specific purpose, we used the analytical sheet for the authenticity in order to prove in a quantifying manner the achievement of the authenticity criterion. The percentages we achieved as result of applying this method can be considered as indicators of the authenticity. We consider as suitable the introduction of the modern research methods, as well as the qualitative and quantitative indicators, in proving the reach of the UNESCO criteria at the stage of enrolment on WHL.