The painted monasteries of Bucovina

The painted monasteries of Bucovina

Things to do - general

Among the most picturesque treasures of Romania are the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina.

There is Indeed no other place in the world than Bucovina in Northern Moldavia, where a group of Orthodox monasteries with their exterior mural paintings are to be seen. These Painted Monasteries are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage for their rarity and beauty.

Seven of the churches were placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1993. The eighth, Sucevita, is awaiting sanction to be added on the list.

The best-preserved are the monasteries in Humor, Moldovita, Patrauti, Probota,  Suceava, Sucevita,Voronet, Neamt and Putna,. Another, a small church, is located in the village of Arbore.

Bucovina is among the most attractive and frequented touristic area on Romania’s map. It is not by chance that this area, famous today in the whole world, was honored in 1975 with the international “Pomme d’Or” prize, by the International Federation of Journalists and Writers of Tourism and the ancient architectural monuments with inside and outside frescoes, from this part of the world were appointed by UNESCO in the list of the universal art monuments.

Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell. Deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art, these churches are one-of-a-kind architectural sites in Europe. The mural paintings  have always produced a strong impression on those who have admired them. Their colours, brilliantly preserved after so many centuries, appear as a phenomenon and represent an exception due to their execution technique. Specialists were always impressed by the exceptional intensity of their colours, moreover since these monuments are located in a very harsh environment.  Far from being merely wall decorations, the murals represent complete cycles of religious murals. The purpose of the frescoes was to make the story of the Bible and the lives of the most important Orthodox saints known to villagers by the use of images. Their outstanding composition, elegant outline and harmonious colors blend perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

Foto Credits: Octavian Serban

 

 

Culture and history

Culture & history The church of Voronet Monastery is one of the many medieval monuments from Bukovina that was built in 1488 by Prince Stephen the Great in only three months and three weeks, according to the commemorative inscription of the church. Voronet is considered by many to be the "Sixtine Chapel of the East", due to its magnificent frescoes placed on the West wall. These feature an intense shade of blue known in Romania as , "Voronet Blue", a colors obtained from lapis lazuli, which has been added to the lexicon of art alongside colors such as the "Titian Red" and "Veronese Green", being unique.

High walls and heavily buttressed defensive towers surround the great monastic complex of Sucevita, giving it the appearance of a fortress. Founded in 1581 by Gheorghe Movila, Bishop of Radauti, it was later expanded by his brother, Ieremia, ruling prince of Moldavia, who added massive ramparts and turrets. Sucevita was the last of the 22 painted churches of Bucovina and has the largest number of painted images. It boasts a magnificent depiction of the Ladder to Paradise.

The Monastery of Moldovita was built by Petru Rares in 1532.The predominantly gold and deep blue paintings on the exterior walls were completed in 1537. The large and vivid Siege of Constantinople highlights the frescoes. Another stunning representation depicts the Tree of Jesse, representing Christ’s genealogy, a wide-spread iconographical theme in Europe during the Middle Ages.

Arbore is the only church in the region with no belfry towers, because it was not built by a prince. The monastery was founded in 1503 by Luca Arbore, the advisor of Stephen the Great (Stefan cel Mare). It was painted four decades later by Dragos Coman, one of the greatest 16th century mural painters of Romania.

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Stefan cel Mare Street nr. 5 bis, Gura Humorului 725300

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Sofia Vicoveanca Blvd, No 68, 720285

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