In the heart of the remarkable Bukovina region, a land with old villages inhabited by Romanians who look like they’ve stepped out of a history book stands one of Romania’s most famous monasteries, Moldovita Monastery.
The origins of the monastery are still unknown, and some claim that it was built on the spot of an older construction from the early 15th century. Official documents date its construction to 1532 when it was built by the illegitimate son of Stephen the Great, Petru Rares, over a period of 5 years. Being a big lover of art, he decided to build a painted church on a field near the Ciumărel river. In the same period, he built the exterior walls and the towers, transforming the place in a small stronghold. The monastery was initially built for monks, and it was designed with several secret tunnels that could be used in case of a siege, as well as a secret chamber for the monastery’s treasure.
Moldovita Monastery – Medieval art at its purest
Often called ’A Parchment in Red’, the exterior frescos imply colors which are mainly yellow ochre combined with amazing hues of red, blue, and green. Along with the ones at Voronet, Moldovita Monastery’s frescoes, have best preserved their colors which are astonishingly fresh and vivid. The green, which represents the earth line, and the blue of the background associates the structure to the grass of the lawn around it and to the sky against which it projects, making the viewer think the church emerged from the lifeblood of the earth, reflecting the surrounding nature.
But looking beyond the colors, what amazes the most is the Crucifixion (nave) which is considered the most valuable painting reflecting this theme in Bucovina churches. As a result, it is often compared with international valuable art such as Italian art (the Descent from the Cross) or with the 15th-century icon painters of Novgorod (the Mourning Of Christ – north wall). In all the paintings, scenes and figures are carefully distributed, showing the harmonious proportions of the church.
Maybe the most iconic painted scene from Moldovita Monastery is the Siege of Constantinople, the moment when the capital city of the Byzantine Empire is sieged by the Ottoman Turks. In the scene, the Byzantine Emperor and the priests carry the miracle-making icon of the Virgin Mary, the protector of the city. The message reveals not just the protection of the Virgin Mary for Constantinople, but also her protection for Moldova.
Moldovita Monastery is included in the UNESCO Heritage in 1993 as one of the Painted Churches of Moldavia.
From dawn till dusk.
Adults: 5 lei
Filming fee (outside only): 10 lei
Filming is not permitted inside the Church.