When we arrive to Torja we are welcome by a huge carved Sekler gate which symbolically blesses everyone who enters the village through it. There is an interesting story about the origin of the name of the village. In the times of the Romans there used to be a road which lead to the valley of the Olt river through the mountains. Its name was Via Pretoria, and this is supposed to have been the original name of the village.
The history, as well as the present of the village is closely connected to the Apor family. The noble family left Balvanyosvar at the beginning of the 17th century and they moved to the center of Torja. There ranch can still be found in the center of Torja. Today the family’s descendants, who moved back from abroad, are living here. From the most well-known figures of the family we can mention Baron Apor Peter, who was one of the representatives of the memoir and diary writing trend, which flourished in the 18th century. His works are veritable resources, his main work is Metamorphosis Transilvanie, in which he wrote about the patriarchy traditions of the Transylvanian Principate. An other noble figure of this family is Apor Vilmos, a martyr bishop, who was beatified by Pope John Paul the 2nd on the 9th of November, 1997, after a long waiting period.
The imposing castle has the features of early renaissance and popular baroque styles. The building has several times been renovated and its present look bears the characteristics of the classicism. On its yard we can see two old buildings: the old store house and the native house of Apor Peter. The walls are decorated with memorial stone boards made of architecturally valuable carved stones. Apor Peter’s coat of arms and epitaph in Latin is also guarded here. The two monument churches of the village were built by the Apor family. The Saint Miklos church at Altorja was built between 1823 and 1831. The predecessor of today’s building was the sanctuary which originated from the Roman age, was built in gothic style and was almost completely destroyed with the numerous reconstructions. The semi arched sanctuary of the Roman church was found in1990. On the banks of the Torja there can be seen the statue of the country founder Arpad and in the hall of the church there are exhibits reminding us of historical past. Close to the church we can find the Jokai Mor secondary school of Altorja, the front wall of which is decorated by a memorial board of Jokai. It is due to the fact that the famous writer showed great interest towards this region and visited the place several times.
As a result of one of his visits he wrote his novel entitled Balvanyosvar. In the center of the village we can see the village hall, in front of which we can find the mille-centenarium memorial column. At the same place we can find an other wooden column, which plays a special, unique role in the life of the village, it is also called life-tree. They place on it little name boards with the names of the newborns of the village and this is how they preserve them for the future generations. On the left side of the main street there is the Neo-gothic grave chapel of the Apor family, the so-called Mary- chapel. We do not know exactly when it was built, the bell which is part of the wall has the inscription 1831, but some documents say that it was inaugurated in 1846. People say that the chapel was built from the reusable construction material left over from the reconstruction of the wall surrounding the church fortress of Alsotorja.
The chapel’s front door has the marble memorial board which reminds us of Beatified Apor Vilmos, and his bust is placed in front of the entrance, statue made by Miholcsa Jozsef. In the chapel we can find the toms of Baron Apor Lazar, who was the councellor of the Transylvanian Royal Chancellery, his grandson’s, Baron Apor Gabor’s, who used to be vice mayor of Haromszek county, the tomb of Apor Vilmos’s father and other family members.
An other interesting architectural site is the Protestant fortress church of Feltorja. There used to be an other Roman aged sanctuary at its place too, built in gothic style. During the First World War they built a neo-gothic new church in the place of the old one. The gate bastion designed for defense has a tower with arched, long and narrow loopholes. Its thatched roof ends in an octagon shaped pyramid, under which there is a balcony-like observatory, which was probably built in the 18th century.
From the same period there is a portico made of wood, on it is written: 1770. In its tower there is a monument bell with renaissance decorations. In the neighborhood of the fortress church there is the Catholic Church of Feltorja. Karatna, which is situated on the other side of the Tarja brook, has its own Protestant church too. The education activity of this village takes place in four secondary schools and four kindergartens. Due to the long-term strategies and constant developing programs of the local leaders important investments have been made and many public buildings have been renovated. The future plans include the renovation of the infrastructure and its rehabilitation. At Torja people prepare a rich and varied set of programs for the village day annually. They try to offer programs for every age group and for people with different tastes and interests. In the past few years one of the biggest attractions was the cottage cheese puliszka making, with the size of which they tried to break a record.
In 2008 with careful preparation and great devotion of the local people the Torja people succeeded in getting into the Book of Records. The longest cottage cheese puliszka in the world was 150 m and 32 cm long; it took 400 kg of grits, 15 l oil, 25 kg salt and 450 l water. 240 women and 75 men helped to prepare it. After slicing it up, the 7500 slices of puliszka vanished in a few minutes. This region is also rich in natural treasures. One of its interesting sites is the Szemmoso fountain. Its sulphurous water had been used to cure eye diseases. The pieces of clothes which were moistured in the water and used to wipe the patients’ eyes with were left behind on the branches of the surrounding bushes, because, according to superstitions that also meant leaving the disease behind.
There are several tasty mineral water fountains in this region, which also have medical effect, they can cure different illnesses. These have continuously been taken care of and used. The water of the Szeregeto fountain has been driven down from the mountain into the Jajdon valley, the Transylvania fountain has recently been modernized and there are plans to restore the Szejke fountain too.