Archive for January, 2014

A lot can be said about the Romanian people, but in any case that it is not religious. Most Romanians believe in a higher power since the oldest times when Zamolxis was the supreme god of the Dacians. As a consequence dozens of religious buildings flourish in this country: churches, monasteries, convents and Orthodox hermitages concentrated mostly in the Northern Moldavia and Southern Bucovina.

manastirea sucevita 2013

Most were built between the end of the fifteenth century and the end of the sixteenth century, many monuments enlisted in UNESCO patrimony, but all, without exception, are wonderful jewelries both architectural and spiritual. Built by important Romanian rulers like Stephen the Great, Petru Rares and Alexandru cel Bun, for gratitude to God for the help provided in battles, the ancient churches had set the tone of an era ruled by peace, tranquility, faith and reconciliation with self. When we forget who we really are, when we stray away too far from the simplicity of life, it may be worth it to visit this part of Romania, where you get a sense of timelessness among the symbols of steadiness and beauty that time, always unforgiving, was never able to diminish. Here, in the monastic environment of Moldova and Bucovina beat true Romanian hearts. Who are the Romanians? A faithful, extremely creative people, good-hearted, mild as the surrounding landscapes. Nearly half a millennium, we managed to build these remarkable proof of religious artwork. All are open to the public, accessible by road, and you can be eventually followed by a mild and pleasant hike through the forest.

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The most attractive are monasteries in southern Bucovina historical due iconographic program developed as world premiere under which their exterior was painted entirely.

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The most famous is without a doubt VORONEŢ Monastery, founded by Stephen the Great which became famous due to its unique colors of the walls, named after the church itself “Voroneţ Blue”. The mystery of obtaining this color is nowadays not fully discovered. There’s a version that says that the secret ingredient is plum brandy as the craftsmen were also paid with barrels of this drink. You know what they say, what is good also God loves! About Voroneţ it is worth mentioned that the construction lasted four months, which was a record at that time (in 1488). Its first abbot was Daniil Sihastru, the hermit who’s hut was 70 km further North, near another jewel monastery – Putna, built by Stephen the Great, where he is also buried, place called by poets  the “Jerusalem of the Romanian people”. Close by is the oldest wooden church in Europe!chilia daniil sihastrul

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Next on the list is Humor, with the oldest exterior painting in Romania. Bogdana, located in Radauti city is the royal necropolis of Moldova, four important princes being buried here, including the founder the Moldavian feudal state, Bogdan I. Suceviţa is, in my opinion, the best beautiful and with the best preserved outside frescoes. Moldova and Probota (built during Petru Rares reign) Dragomirna (fortified church) Râşca (the most Southern church painted on the outside), Arbore (flooded several times) or Pătrăuţi (the first of Stephen the Great) are the other recommendations of outside painted churches.

DSC09483South from all these great there’s the star of all churches, the oldest and biggest Moldavian monastery Neamt. Around it, scattered on hills and hidden in the woods there can be found many convents, hermitages and caves inhabited by hermits or abbots. At least one week would be necessary to visit them all! The one that attracted me like a magnet, thanks to its isolation and beautiful trail through the woods towards it, on a route with wooden paves and ladders, positioned among high rocks and roots is the Cave of Saint Theodora of Sihla.

pestera sfintei teodora sihla

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In this area without pair, part of Neamt Hunters Natural Park, with a little luck , you may find in the warm summer evenings, wild bison. Those who do not want to rely on luck may encounter them at the Zoo “Dragos Voda”, on the way to Neamt Monastery. Close by there’s an unique item in Romania, the Suspended Bridge, where fresh air lovers can enjoy the forest and wildlife from a height of 15m.

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I end my amazing journey on the territory where you can feel the truly Romanian heart with three final recommendations – Văratec Monastery, Agapia Monastery, whose interior was painted by most famous Romanian painter Nicolae Grigorescu and Pângăraţi Monastery, the only place where there are two overlapped churches.

detaliu fresce manastirea humor

By Anda Stanciulescu

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