Bucovina and the Painted Monasteries

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5/5

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On your own

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Date of travel

May, 2017

Moldovita is a lovely setting in the mountains north of Guru Humorului and is surrounded by a small village and cemetery.

The Monastery was built by Petru Rares in 1532 near the site of an earlier monastery that had been destroyed by a landslide. The site was well away from other villages and surrounded by forest. The defensive wall with three towers was added in 1607 the main entrance is through the central gatehouse tower. Inside this, the walls surround a large grassy area with the church in the centre.

In one corner is a large building which was the Bishop’s House and Treasury and now contains a small museum. This has the chair used by Petru Rares, C15th embroidered altar cloths, icons, lecterns and books given to the monastery by Catherine the Great of Russia.

Along one side of the walls is a long low building housing the nuns. More nuns live outside the walls in the village.

The church is the typical triconch building with a hexagonal tower above the naos. The huge overhanging eaves through rainwater and snow well away from the walls.

It has an open exonarthex at the west end, with a pronaos, burial chamber, naos an chancel behind the iconostasis.

All the outside walls are covered with frescoes. These are the best preserved of all the monasteries, although those on the north wall have weathered badly and the lower frescoes have been lost. Some of the lower frescoes have also been damaged by old graffiti.

The Prayer of Saints on the east apse has Christ represented by a Lamb with the Virgin above and God at the top. On the side walls are images of saints and prophets. On the pillars are seraphs with closed wings.

At the top of the south wall is the Akathistos Hymn with the Tree of Jesse below it. At the bottom and to the left is an image of the Seize of Constantinople with the Vision of Moses next to it.

On the west facade is the Last Judgement. Above the door is God with Christ below Him with the Virgin and John the Baptist on either side. Below this is the throne of Heaven with a dove representing the Holy Spirit. The figures on either side are Adam and Eve, illustrating God’s forgiveness of sin. Beneath the throne is the Hand of God holding the scales. The tympanum above the door has the Virgin with the Christ Child.

On the right is Moses bringing the Infidels (Jews, Armenians and Turks) to judgement. The red sea of Hell contains sea serpents and the figures of the damned. On the left, St Peter and St Paul are leading the saved into paradise. Seated in the garden on he left are the three Patriarchs of the church, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with the Virgin.

There is a small charge to visit the monastery. The photo permit is 10Lei but only allows photographs of the outside and not the inside.

This is a delightful monastery in a lovely setting. It does get very busy especially with tour group in the morning. There are usually Nuns around who are very keen to talk to visitors about the history and the wall paintings.

There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/romania/day_six/six_two/index.html

We visited as part of a ten day trip to Romania. My full report with all the pictures is “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/romania/index.html

ESW

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