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The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Painted Monasteries of Bucovina are located in northeastern Romania and are some of the most well-known picturesque treasures of the country. Heaven and hell, angels and demons, scenes from Jesus’ life, along with portraits of prophets and saints are well decorated with frescoes dating from the 15th and 16th centuries.
HistoryThese monasteries are not only one-of-a kind architectural wonders in Europe, but also Byzantine art masterpieces. The murals are not only wall decorations, but chronological events that happened during history. The main objective of these murals was to help the villagers understand the Bible’s story and its most valuable Orthodox saints by using pictures and drawings. Their outstanding outline, elegant composition, and pleasant colors complement perfectly with the surrounding sights.
Whether visitors are interested in history, art or religion, they will be amazed by the structures and decors. Voronet, Humor; Probota, Sucevita; Moldovita, Suceava; and Patrauti are the best preserved monasteries, along with a small church which lies in the beautiful village of Arbore. In 1993, UNESCO placed seven of the mentioned churches on their World Heritage list; Sucevita is also on the list but has not yet been approved.
Arbore MonasteryArbore Monastery is the first pit stop of an impressive tour. The thing that makes Arbore Monastery different is the scene from “Genesis”, which is highlighted very well, adorning its western wall. The other thing that makes it different is the absence of belfry towers, the main reason behind their absence is because this monastery was not built by a prince.
Luca Arbore, the adviser of Stephen the Great (“Stefan cel Mare”) was the founder of Arbore Monastery. Four decades later, Dragos Coman , one of Romania’s greatest 16th-century painters started the job.
Humor Monastery“Humor Monastery” was founded in 1530 and it is one of the smallest monasteries in Bucovina . However, it keeps one of Bunovina’s greatest treasures: loom collection. The large variety of frescoes dates from 1535, including two masterpieces: “Return of the Prodigal Son” and one with an “amusing” description of the devil acting as woman.
The monastery was built by an official, not a prince, because it has no steeple and the roof is cross-shaped. The most common nuances of the frescoes are russet brown with some rich greens and blue infusion
Moldovita MonasteryThe Monastery of Moldovita was built in 1532 by the Moldavian, King Petru Rares and lies in the beautiful village of Vatra Moldovitei. The frescoes are highlighted by the vivid and large “Siege of Constantinople”. Its exterior walls, decorated with deep gold and blue paintings were realized back in 1537. Moldovita Monastery is also represented by the “Tree of Jesse”, which is basically Jesus Christ’s genealogy, a well-known iconographic theme.
Patrauti ChurchStephen the Great built this beautiful monastery back in 1487 and it’s the oldest building raised under his authority. A dedication in the name of the “Holy Cross”, Patrauti Monastery’s mural painting still please the tourists’ eyes. However, after Bucovina was conquered by the Habsburg Empire back in 1775, the monastery became a parish church. Nowadays, the only things that can be admired here are the church and its wooden bell tower.
Probota MonasteryAnother impressive church built by Petru Rares, Probota Monastery lost its original monastic ensemble, only the king’s residence and the church being present nowadays. Even though 1,532 frescoes are present all over the place, most of the murals were replaced during the 19th century. Probota Monastery was considered to be a fortress because of its huge walls and corner towers which were built in 1550. Nowadays, Probota Monastery is actually a museum, exhibiting old books, coins, artifacts, icons and several pieces of furniture.
Saint George’s Church / Saint John the New Monastery:It took almost 40 years for Bogdan the 3rd and his son, Stefanita Voievod to build this monastery which served as Moldavia’s Metropolitan Church. Nowadays, the Archbishop of Radauti and Suceava is living here.
Alexandru cel Bun brought Saint John’s relics here and since 1415 they are kept in a silver casket, decorated with episodes from the apostle’s life. Petru Rares had the chance to rule over Moldavia during the golden era of mural paintings; scenes from the New and Old Testament are represented on the monastery’s exterior walls.
How to Get ThereTourists can go to Suceava by plane, taking direct airline links from both Bucharest and Vienna and also by train. The first places to visit in this area are Suceava and Iasi, two of the most beautiful Moldavian towns. In order to savor the visit in this area, visitors should stay at least two days so they can explore the surroundings.
Similar and Nearby LandmarksGura Humorului is only a couple of kilometers away from the monasteries and it can be an ideal place to begin the Moldavian trip. Some other beautiful monasteries in Europe are Horezu Monastery, Monastery of Saint Jerome, and Monastery of Sant Cugat in Barcelona.
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Author: Iuliana. Last updated: Mar 17, 2015