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Dates of visit:
March 28, 2007 -
April 14, 2007

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Revisit Bucharest
 Bucegi Mountains
 Revisit Sibiu
 Maramures Region
 Wooden Churches
 Peasant traditions
 Merry Cemetery
 Bukovina Region
 Painted Monasteries
 Railroad Excursion
 

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Poland
Ukraine
*** Bukovina ***
*** More Painted Monasteries ***

*** Church of Patrauti ***
*** Dragomirna and Voronet Monasteries ***
*** Agapia and Petru Voda Monasteries ***
        Map of Romania
        Travel Route
        Church of Patrauti
               Site Gallery - Church of Patrauti
        Dragomirna Monastery
               Site Gallery - Dragomirna Monastery
        Voronet Monastery
               Site Gallery - Voronet Monastery
        Agapia Monastery
               Site Gallery - Agapia Monastery
        Petru Voda Monastery
               Site Gallery - Petru Voda Monastery
Church of Patrauti

Church of PatrautiLocation of Church of Patrauti ...

Holy Cross of Patrauti ... Year Built: 1487. Built by: Stephen the Great. The church of the Holy Cross is small but well proportioned, consisting only of a pronaos, a naos and a chancel. The church of the Holy Cross of Patrauti is situated not far from the town of Suceava in the Valley of Suceava River. Once hidden deep in the woods, Patrauti village was chosen as the location for the single convent of nuns founded by Stephen the Great. The church was built in 1487, as written in the commemorative inscription above the entrance.

Together with the church of Milisauti, the church of Patrauti marked the beginning of the long and legendary constructing campaign of the reputed Moldavian prince. Stephen endowed the convent with everything necessary, but it could not withstand the vicissitudes of the centuries, and was at some point abandoned. In 1711, the Bishop of Radauti re-founded the monastery, but in 1775 Bucovina became part the Habsburg Empire, and soon after it became a parish church.

The frescoes inside the church were painted in part soon after construction work finished, in part about ten years later, during the last decade of the 15th century. They are not restored and very dark and covered with dirt and candle soot, but what is visible is dominated by golden light. The frescoes are the work of a fine artist and many of the saintly faces seem actual portraits. It is believed that, either the artist came from Byzantium, which had been conquered by the Turks only a few decades earlier, or he had been trained in the Byzantine way of painting.


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Site Gallery - Church of Patrauti
 
Church of Patrauti Church of Patrauti Church of Patrauti
Church of Patrauti Church of Patrauti Church of Patrauti
Church of Patrauti Church of Patrauti Church of Patrauti
Dragomirna Monastery

Dragomirna MonasteryLocation of Dragomirna Monastery ...

Dragomirna ... The Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Year Built: 1609. Built by: Metropolitan Bishop Anastasie Crimca. The Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit is unique in all of Romania for its unusual proportions. It is by far the tallest and narrowest church ever built. Its walls are not painted, but decorated with stone carvings.

In 1602, at the Metropolitan Bishop Anastasie Crimca's initiative, a small monastery chapel dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and the Prophets Elijah and Enoch, was built not far from the city of Suceava. Although of much reduced dimensions, the chapel was innovative in plan and the handling of space. It has a rounded chancel, a rectangular naos and, instead of a pronaos, an open three-sided exonarthex. The three openings and two open doorways have massive pillars on both sides and oriental ogee arches. The chapel is built with bricks and rough blocks of stone. A decorative band, made up of three rows of enameled green and turquoise bricks, encircles the building just below the windows and openings.

In a few years the chapel had become too small, and by 1609 Bishop Crimca had built a new church, with the aid of Great Chancellor Luca Stroici. The church, dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit, is incomparably taller, unique not only to Moldavia, but also to all of Romania, and even to the whole Orthodox world. The relation between the width, length and height of the church is most unusual. The church is nine meters wide, which is an average width, but the height of more than 40 meters up to the top of the lantern tower, makes it seem extremely narrow. The church gives the impression of being a ship, the old symbol of the Christian Church. The façades are built of rough yellow sandstone. The buttresses and corners are built of ashlars, forming wide smooth vertical bands running all the way up to the roof. Midway up the façades, a twisted stone cable encircles the church, a Walachian influence. The most spectacular element is the lantern tower. It is entirely sculpted with geometric and floral motives of Caucasian origin. Also the three bases of the tower, one square and two star-shaped are covered with decorations.

In 1627, Prince Miron Barnovschi, a relative of the Movila family that built the monastery of Sucevita, started building the strongest monastic fortress in Moldavia. Up to this time Dragomirna had been vulnerable, a prey to robbers and marauders.

Part of the new monastic buildings has been transformed into a museum, where precious objects and manuscripts are displayed. A catwalk goes around the precinct walls. The view afforded from the catwalk of the east wall brings out the special character of the church. Its height and elegance are accentuated, and the whole church seems to float in the air. Outside the gate tower is the Moldavian coat of arms, the head of an aurochs inside a nearly exaggeratedly elongated four-lobed field. Carved stone rosettes decorate the arch of the gateway on both sides. On the outside, under the coat of arms, is a big modern mural painting of The Holy Virgin and Child Adored by Two Archangels.

The small chapel in the cemetery, just outside the walls, was built in 1602. Here already are visible the same lines as in the bigger church built some years later. The chapel is considered to be the scale model of the church of the monastery.


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Site Gallery - Dragomirna Monastery
 
Dragomirna Monastery Dragomirna Monastery Dragomirna Monastery
Dragomirna Monastery Dragomirna Monastery Dragomirna Monastery
Dragomirna Monastery Dragomirna Monastery Dragomirna Monastery
Voronet Monastery

Voronet MonasteryLocation of Voronet Monastery ...

The Church of St. George of the Voronet Monastery ... Year built: 1488. Built by: Stephen the Great. The Church is possibly the most famous church of Romania. It is known throughout the world for its exterior frescoes of bright and intense colors, and for the hundreds of well-preserved figures placed against the renowned azurite background.

The monastery is located on a riverbank. The age of the monastic site is not known. A legend tells us that Stephen the Great, in a moment of crisis during a war against the Turks, came to Daniel the Hermit in Voronet and asked for advice. After he won the battle against the Turks, keeping his promise to the monk, the prince built a new church, dedicated to St. George, the bringer of victory in battle.

This is the present church that was built on the site of an older wooden church, the scanty remains of which have not been dated. The renowned researcher George Bals wrote in the 1920’s that the churches of this period, and in part also those built in the following century, were “Byzantine churches built with Gothic hands”. The structure and the interior spatial solutions were linked to the Byzantine and south Slavic tradition. The exterior, with its buttresses and door and window frames were related to Western European High Gothic. The influences spread from Transylvania and Poland with craftsmen who were invited especially to build churches.

The Church of St. George is dated with the commemorative inscription placed above the original entrance: “I, Prince Stephen, by God’s mercy leading the Country of Moldavia, son of Prince Bogdan, started to build this foundation at the Monastery of Voronet, dedicated to the Saint and Worshipped and Great Martyr and Victorious George, in the year 6996 (1488) the month of May, 26, the Monday after the Descent of the Holy Spirit, and completed it in the same year, in the month of September, 14”. The text shows that the church was built in less than four months. This tells us something about the high professional level of construction at the time.

The church of Voronet that Stephen the Great built included the chancel, the naos with its tower, and the pronaos, which means that its plan was identical to the churches of Patrauti. The exonarthex was added by the Metropolitan Grigore Rosca in 1547. This addition changed the look of the small church, which up to now had been nearly identical with the still existing churches of Patrauti. The exonarthex is a rectangular space with a transversal barrel vault. The west wall is without an opening, but on both lateral walls there is an entrance and a tall Gothic window.

During the half century that separates the paintings of the exonarthex from those of the naos, Moldavian art had evolved from sober and rigorous to more complex, decorative and lively. Floral decorations fill all available empty space, divide scenes and registers, and accentuate architectural elements such as niches and arches. The clothes of the figures turn from simple into sumptuous, and the bleak landscapes are now filled with vegetation. Details win ground where earlier spiritual intensity was most important. The Last Judgment on the west façade of the Church of St. George is the most imposing fresco.


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Site Gallery - Voronet Monastery
 
Voronet Monastery Voronet Monastery Voronet Monastery
Voronet Monastery Voronet Monastery Voronet Monastery
Voronet Monastery Voronet Monastery Voronet Monastery
Voronet Monastery Voronet Monastery Voronet Monastery
Agapia Monastery

Agapia MonasteryLocation of Agapia Monastery ...

Agapia Monastery ... Convent for nuns. The name of the monastery comes from a monk whose name was Agapie who founded a wooden church long time ago. It was named “Old Agapia Monastery” or “The Agapia of the Hills Monastery”.

Elena Doamna, the wife of Petru Rares Voivode, decided to build a stone church in 1527 at this location. The church underwent renovation during the reign of Petru Schiopu Voivode at the end of the 16th century. Unfortunately, within a short time it collapsed because of the sloping ground. As a consequence, it had to be re-founded by Gheorghe Duca Voivode, but it was afterwards destroyed by the Haeteria militants in 1821. In 1832, Mother Sevastia Munteanu founded a new wooden church on the premises, but it burned down in 1934. The church which exists now at Old Agapia was constructed of stone and wood and was erected before 1939.

The “Agapia of the Valley”, the main Agapia monastery, was founded by the high-ranking official Gavriil, who was the minister of war at the princely court, and by his wife, Liliana – who, according to the votive inscription, “built and endowed this Agapia Monastery again during the reign of the faithful and Christ-loving Vasile Lupu Voivode” (Gavriil’s brother). The construction commenced in October 1642, was continued in September 1644, and completed on 12th, September 1647. The inner painting realized by Nicolae Grigorescu when he was only 20 years old confers to the Agapia Monastery a particular value. He painted here between 1858 and 1862. Its special beauty is given by the synthesis among the Byzantine tradition, the neoclassical style and particular elements of the Romanian art. In the succeeding two centuries, the monastic establishment was restored several times: between 1848 and 1858 (when the church underwent several notable modifications), in 1903 (when the monastery grounds were renewed and then a few outbuildings designed for workshop uses were erected), and in 1968.

In 1968 the monastery was provided with modern conveniences, such as central heating, electricity and running water, which were introduced through the persevering efforts of Metropolitan Iustin Moisescu.

Attracted by the beauty of the landscape and the surrounding sights, as well as by the peacefulness of the spiritual life of the holy establishment, many writes and cultural personalities visit this monastery particularly in the summertime. It was here that they could rest and work in peace, far from the maddening crowd. On the left is a modern version of accommodations for retreat participants.

The monastic residents who live and serve on the premises forbear to eating meat and meat products. Into this holy place visitors are not allowed after sundown.


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Site Gallery - Agapia Monastery
 
Agapia Monastery Agapia Monastery Agapia Monastery
Agapia Monastery Agapia Monastery Agapia Monastery
Agapia Monastery Agapia Monastery Agapia Monastery
Petru Voda Monastery

Petru Voda MonasteryLocation of Petru Voda Monastery ...

Petru Voda Monastery ... The exterior painted frescoes of Bucovina’s churches (Suceava County) appeared as an isolated phenomenon in the 16th century, and especially in Petru Rares’s times. The number of monuments with such decoration was greater, but today only six are preserved: Arbore, Humor, Moldovita, Rasca, Sucevita and Voronet. Important traces can also be seen at Probota, Baia, Patrauti, Sfantu Ilie near Suceava and Suceava (Sf. Gheorghe - St. John the New Monastery). Sometimes – for instance in Voronet and Sfantu Ilie, near Suceava – the paintings and the church are not from the same period.

A special case is the new Petru Voda Monastery, located in a village with the same name in Neamt County. It was built and painted in the last decade (1990s), with the obvious intention to be included in the Medieval tradition, but without imitating it.


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Site Gallery - Petru Voda Monastery
 
Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery
Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery
Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery
Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery
Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery
Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery Petru Voda Monastery
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