Man’s connection to the divine has taken many forms throughout time, from small altars and statues dedicated to the gods, to majestic cathedrals and to pyramids built in the heart of the jungle. The limits of creativity have been pushed even further in the attempt to surpass everything that had been built before – taller, more ornate, more awe-inspiring.
At a time when Western European Christians were erecting cathedrals that overtook in size and beauty everything that had been built until then, the Bukovina region followed a different direction. The painted monasteries of Romania impress with their perfect blend of nature, man, and artistic creativity. The seven monasteries in Bukovina are the proof that the beauty and harmony of color can be found in the most unexpected of places. The Voronet Monastery has become famous worldwide for the blue coloring used in its exterior frescoes – a color known as “Voronet blue“ – and charms the visitors with its 500-year history, its legends, and especially with its artistic value.
Built in 1488, the construction of Voronet Monastery was finished in record time – three months, three weeks and three days – today being part of the UNESCO heritage as one of the Painted Churches of Moldavia. One thing worth mentioning is that the construction period was not accidental. In Christianity, 3 is a Holy number, and it symbolizes The Father (God), The Son (Jesus Christ), and The Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost (represented by the white dove). The exterior murals have preserved their hues despite centuries of inclement weather, but the ingredients used in preparing the paints are still a mystery. The scenes in the murals depict, like a movie, the history of Christianity, presented in an original manner, very much influenced by folk beliefs, by the Eastern culture, but also by the Orthodox thought. The painting of The Last Judgement, depicted on the southern wall, gave the monastery the name of “The Sistine Chapel of the East”, following Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Vatican.
The Legend of the Voronet Monastery
According to the legend, Stephen the Great’s army was defeated by the Ottoman Turks in a fierce battle while protecting Moldova in 1476. For the first time in his life, Stephen the Great wanted to give up and to bestow, at last, the country to the Sultan after many years of keeping him outside the border. With his last strengths, he went to seek advice from the wise hermit Daniil, the bishop of a small wooden monastery in the forests of Bukovina’s Mountains. Advised to never give up the fight against the heathens and to take Saint George’s flag with him on the battlefield, Stephen the Great defeated the Sultan’s army in The Battle of the White Valley, named after the thousands of bones found on the field. Twelve years later, as Stephen the Great promised to Daniil the hermit, he built a stone monastery dedicated to Saint George, The Protector of the army. Today, Voronet Monastery is the living example of the greatness of Stephen the Great, named by the Pope “The athlete of Christ” for his undisputed courage and faith in God.
From dawn till dusk.
Adults: 5 lei.
Filming fee (outside only): 10 lei.
Filming is not permitted inside Voronet Monastery.