Aug 24

DRAGOMIRNA MONASTERY – A UNIQUE SITE IN ALL BUKOVINA (MANASTIREA DRAGOMIRNA)

The fairy-tale scenery of Bukovina never ceases to amaze us with its timeless beauty. Wherever you look, you see a piece of history, you see the evidence of faith, and the beauties of nature. In this journey we will visit two very interesting and fascinating sights that will remain in their memory by their unique and picturesque character.

Located between the mild hills of Bucovina, 12 kilometers northward from the former residence of Stephen the Great and the Metropolitan of Moldova, Dragomirna rises like the proud stem of a millennial tree between the fortress walls. Built as if it was meant to taunt the heights, in search of more light near the woods, shaded by a curtain of trees and mirrored by the water of the majestic lake nearby, this place of worship, through its antiquity, originality of style, elegance and solidity of form awakens the admiration of every visitor, and the pious worshiper is as impressed as the art historian.

Bishop Anastasius Crimca Built the Dragomirna Monastery in 1609; it is somehow different from other monasteries in Bucovina, with clear influences of the early 15th century. First of all, the monastery is very large, it is more “aired” the other famous Orthodox monasteries in the area, and fortification walls provide it a greater solidity that can be noticed in the aspect, and proven as well as in the many conquering attempts. On the other hand, the inside of the church is very narrow and the walls are not painted but decorated with engravings.

Beyond the beauty of the landscape, the unusual site, which produces an unforgettable impression, there is strange elegance of the monument, with geometric rigor of great refinement, with a unique frame in terms of proportions and unit volume of all the other Moldavian medieval monuments. Probably precisely this uniqueness of the monument has attracted since early times the attention of specialists, who have set different judgments of value, according to the period and circumstances, but always stressing and pointing out the utter originality of the edifice. Nicolae Iorga spoke about the matchless beauty of Dragomirna Monastery, as well as about its greatness and the overall impression that it makes on its visitors.

The Dragomirna Ensemble was built on the border of two centuries and places itself between two stages of the Moldavian style. Dragomirna Monastery Complex of Medieval Art is composed of the Small or Hermitage Church, the Big Church, defensive walls, the old building of abbots, the five towers, monk cells and the chapel.

You can climb the walls surrounding the monastery and you can admire the interior of the edifice where nuns, busy as the bees, are performing their daily activities. Dragomirna is located in a very quiet area and exudes a peace of mind that spreads around.

The inner walls, which have a height of 11 meters, will catch your eye and will stir your amazement.

Location: Mitocul Dragomirnei town, 15 km north of Suceava, the dN29.

Photo source:

Picture 1: mega-travel.ro; Picture 2: manastireadragomirna.ro; Picture 3: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 4: skytrip.ro; Picture 5: vladimir-rosulescu.blogspot.ro; Picture 6: skytrip.ro; Picture 7: tumblr.com
Apr 19

PIATRA-NEAMT, THE MEETING PLACE OF THE SACRED AND MODERN (PIATRA-NEAMT)

A timeless realm of pastoral hills, majestic mountains and old monasteries, Neamt district, placed in the south of the historical region of Moldova, is a popular touristic spot for those who enjoy nature, history and tranquility.

The capital of Neamt is the town of Piatra Neamt and it is built on the relics of Petrodava, an old Dacian settlement.  Piatra Neamt bears the traces of other ancient cultures, such as Cucuteni – one of the most famous prehistoric cultures of Europe. It is bordered by five mountain peaks belonging to the Eastern Carpathians, is crossed by the River Bistrita and offers all the benefits of a natural environment placed in the middle of one of the most beautiful areas of Romania.

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http://www.viziteazaneamt.ro/

You can get there by train that connect Piatra Neamt to Bucuresti – the capital city of Romania, iasi (one of the busiest Romania cities) and Targu Mures (placed in the nearby historical region of Transylvania) and the nearest airport is 60 km towards the South, in Bacau.

There are plenty of accommodation opportunities, due to the fact that, in recent years, Piatra Neamt has encountered a considerable economic development that boosted tourism, as well.

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The Youth Theatre http://www.ziarpiatraneamt.ro/

If you have decided to arrive here, you were probably allured by the crude beauty of the Ceahlau Peak – considered a sacred mountain, similar to Olympus, in Greece. There are many legends related to this imposing natural monument, which hosts the homonymous national park, among the most beautiful in Romania. Ceahlau is the highest peak of the Bistrita Mountains and has always been considered the watchtower and the protector of the ancient surrounding lands and its inhabitants. Long ago, when the ancestors of today’s Romanians celebrated their ancient beliefs, they considered that it was the residency of Zamolxis – the principle of Creation and Ceahlau was named Pion/Peon (the Home of the Pillar). And nowadays, when the area hosts such a great number of monasteries and settlements of Orthodox hermits, it is considered the second most important mountain of Christianity, after Athos Mountain in Greece.

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http://www.piatra-neamt.net/

The landscapes – mountains and lakes – are the greatest resource of Piatra Neamt, together with the monasteries which represent real pieces of architectural jewelry that lasted since the times of Stephen the Great – the Moldavian Prince who bravely defended his homeland and the Christianity by the invasions of the numerically superior Ottoman Empire at the dimmet of the Middle Ages. Stephen the Great is also the founder of some of the most beautiful Orthodox monasteries in the country and is said that he would build a monastery after every won battle.

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Agapia Monastery https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Among the most prestigious one in the area, I would mention only a few that are not to be missed: Agapia, Almas, Neamt (attested by the documents since 1210), Petru Voda, Sihastria (built in 1655), Bistrita Monastery, Durau, Daniil Sihastrul – which bears the name of the Stephen’s spiritual father, a wise hermit who guided his decisions.

You can also visit the Court and Tower of Stephen the Great, which is available all-year long and the Histrory and Archeology Museum, where you can admire the greatest collection of Aeneolithis artifacts in Europe.

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Neamt Monastery http://www.crestinortodox.ro/

But don’t imagine that modernity has missed this picturesque place, on the contrary; it is one of the most vivid cultural and artistic cities of Romania: The Theatre of Piatra Neamt is a prestigious stage, where some of the greatest names of actors and directors of the last century began their careers. Also, there are many other festivals throughout the year that will enrich your experience, such as a Classic Music Festival, an International Theatre Festival and countless folklore festivals that will introduce you to the local traditions.

Jul 02

Horezu Monastery

Horezu Monastery, situated in Horezu Town (Valcea County), is a nunnery whose dedication day is the 21st of May – St. Constantine and Helen.

Founded in 1690 by the voivode Constantin Brancoveanu, the monastery copied the architectural style of the Episcopal Church located in Curtea de Arges in the sense that it consisted of three apses. The only differentiation between the two edifices mentioned is the porch of the Horezu Monastery which is representative of the style which left its mark during that period – the Brancovenesc Style.

http://www.privatetoursromania.com

 

The decorative style found on the exterior of the church consists of rectangular panels and niches which are adorned with geometrical forms masterfully executed. There is one specific shape which is repetitive – the circle. The entrance door of the monastery has carved marble edges. Above the entrance one can notice two coats of arms – one belonging to the Wallachia domain and the other to the Brancoveanu family.

http://www1.american.edu

 

The interior of the monastery is in itself a work of art. The paintings are valuable pieces, artistically done by true masters of that time (Ioan, Stan, Neagoe, and Ioachim, just to name a few). Besides the religious scenes which are represented in the majority of the paintings found on the walls of the Horezu Monastery, one can also admire the portraits of the families of voivodes that ruled over those lands (the Brancoveanu, Basarab and Cantacuzino families).

The monastery has a beautifully carved iconostasis made out of lime tree and adorned with gilded elements. The edifice has maintained its original structure even though it had underwent several restoration works such as the ones occurring in 1827, 1872, 1907-1912 and 1954-1964.

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The monastery holds within its walls the tombstone of Constantin Brancoveanu, even if the founder of the church was not laid to rest in this specific place. Probably the explanation lies in the fact that the church wanted to bring thus tribute to the one who initiated the construction work of the edifice. There are other tombs found here and the most relevant one contains the earthly remains of Archimandrite John, the first abbot of the monastery. The monastic ensemble also consisted of a hospital which was founded by Brancoveanu’s wife, Lady Mary and a chapel, which was erected by the order of Brancoveanu himself during 1696-1697.

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Tourists will be pleased to learn that inside the monastery is found one of the most impressive collections of liturgical items – objects which can be traced as far into the past as the moment when the monastery was erected.

But the artistic sculptures and paintings are bound to stir interest and admiration in the eyes of the beholders as well. These bear the mark of the Brancovenesc Style – known for the architectural balance that exists in the pieces of art, as well as the abundant detailing that create these one-of-a-kind works.

True connoisseurs of art will undoubtedly agree that the monastery is one of the most exquisite examples of Brancovenesc Art that exist on the entire Romanian territory.