Chiajna Monastery is a place of worship located on the outskirts of Bucharest, at the periphery of Giulesti-Sarbi neighborhood. The historical monument is the subject of many legends and urban myths, gaining its notoriety especially in recent years, since the monastic life restarted in the area. In 2008 the monastery gathered patron “Saint John Jacob the Hozevit”.
The Fanari Prince Alexander Ypsilanti (ruling years between 1774-1782), begins the construction of a large church belonging to a monastery, as a chronicle of the time mentions: “They started to build a monastery at Giulesti, close to Bucharest, and it remained unfinished.”
The one who will carry out this monastery will be another Fanari ruler, Nicolae Mavrogheni (1786-1790), according to the testimony of the same historical document: “They have finished the Giuleşti monastery”, fact that is acknowledged by the archaeological excavations in the 1970s, revealing monk cell foundations all over the area.
This ecclesiastic, cultural and architectural construction of late Middle Ages impresses with its grandeur, with 43 m long, 17 m wide, 1-2 m thick walls and eaves height of 12 m, the largest church ever built in its time. It is unique in terms of architecture because it is the only place of worship, which harmoniously synthesizes original Romanian and post-Brancoveanu style architecture with the neo-Classical pattern. The architect who conceived the church is Johannes Rathner, a Saxon craftsman.
Due to its fortress-like appearance, the monastery housed the residents of its surroundings who found shelter from the invaders. It was bombed by the Turks in 1814, and after 1821 it was abandoned altogether, remaining only the ruins of the great church of the complex.
The church survived several large earthquakes over time, and even those who tried to steal pieces of brick of which it was built, and all this, along with construction of the railway passing some 30 meters close to it has weakened its structure, so today it is in danger of collapsing.
There were many plans and attempts to restore the monastery, especially after 1900; the most recent attempt was even during the socialist regime during 1950-1970.
The monastery is known as the “Chiajna Monastery” or “Mrs. Chiajna” because the land around it passed into the possession of Chiajna County. However, this is not the correct name.
A mysterious face that resembles an angel, a dame, or maybe the Romanian Sphinx was discovered under the plaster on one of the walls.
An urban legend states that there is a curse haunting the place for centuries and that during some nights, locals have noticed gigantic shadow lurking on the walls of the ruins; but there are several variants of the legend: allegedly the former abbot had died of plague and the church didn’t get to be consecrated; others say that Mrs. Chiajna, a boyard lady killed her own daughter because she decided to marry her loved one, not the husband that was imposed on her; and another version is that, in order for the Turkish invaders to not notice the place, the locals took down the church bell and threw it in the waters of the river, hence bringing the curse upon them. It is not certain whether any of these legends are real, but the beauty of the place still preserves a surreal serenity, despite the gloomy tales.
Due to the impressive size and mysterious past, Chiajna Monastery has aroused the interest of many photographers, but also artists who filmed footage for their artistic projects.
Restoration of the Church would be too expensive and its demolition is forbidden, as has the status of historic monument and the clerics are still trying to find a way to bring it back to life.
Chiajna monastery is one of the most important sights in Wallachia, an objective which should not miss it if you are near.
If you want to visit it and admire its still lasting grandeur, there are plenty of accommodation possibilities in the nearby, such a many pensions with very good conditions and prices.
Photo source Piture 1: infopensiuni.ro; Piture 2, 3; Picture 4: cultural.bzi.ro; Piture 5 chiajna.com: Piture 6 romanianturism.com.