Monday, December 22nd 2014

Amazing painted monasteries of Bucovina, Romania; part 2

After visiting the biggest monastery of Sucevita & nice encounter with the drunk nun we visited two most important of all Bucovina monasteries – Putna and Voronet.

Both monasteries were built by Stefan the Great who earned his surname “Great” for his numerous successful military campaigns. Putna monastery was built as a burial place.

Bucovina monasteries Putna 01

Outer walls and entrance to the Putna monastery

In the Putna monastery there is the tomb of Stephen the Great and several of his family members. His tomb became a place of pilgrimage for many believers. The place plays an important role in the history of Moldavian region of Romania.

Bucovina monasteries Putna 02

Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin in Putna

During his reign, Stefan del Mare strengthened Moldavia and maintained its independence against the ambitions of Hungary, Poland, and the Ottoman Empire, which all sought to conquer the land. Stephen achieved great fame in Europe for his long and fierce resistance against the Ottomans.

Bucovina monasteries Putna 03

Wikipedia about Stephen the Great: Stephan the Great is perceived by the Romanian Orthodox Church as a defender of the faith, of the Church, and the whole of Christianity. Stephen’s opposition to the Ottoman Empire protected the entirety of Europe from an invasion. After the Battle of Vaslui, Pope Sixtus IV named Stephen “the Champion of Christ” (Athleta Christi). At the end of the 20th century, the Romanian Orthodox Church decided to canonize Stephen. The canonization was enacted on June 20, 1992 by the Synodic Council of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Stephen is called “Saint Voivode Stephen the Great”. His feast day in the Romanian Orthodox calendar is July 2, the day of his death.

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Above is my favorite fresco in the monastery. A lady was showing it to a kid and telling “if you don’t behave blah blah blah”. Of course, I could not understand Romanian but I assume. But as my friend noticed the devils are taking only people without penises. I wonder why they are so selective.

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After paying our dues to the saint Stefan and visiting a small historical museum located in the monastery we went to the pearl of the pearls of Bucovina – Voroneţ.

The name Voroneţ is pronounced as Voronets (sound “ts” at the end). As a legend goes Stephen the Great, in a moment of crisis during a war against the Turks, came to Daniel the Hermit at his skete (cave) and asked for advice. Daniel the Hermit was Stefan’s adviser though lived in a cave almost whole of his life.

Bucovina monasteries Daniil's cave 01

A monk is about to open Daniil’s cave for visitors

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Inside Daniil’s cave

 

After Stefan cel Mare won the battle against the Turks, keeping his promise to the monk, the prince built a new church, dedicated to St. George, the bringer of victory in battle.

The Church of St. George of the Voroneţ, Bucovina monasteris

The Church of St. George of the Voronet

The church of Saint George at Voroneț Monastery is the most famous church in Romania. It is known throughout the world for its exterior frescoes of bright and intense colours, and for the hundreds of well-preserved figures placed against the renowned azurite background.

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Voronet is considered by many to be the “Sixtine Chapel of the East”, due to its magnificent frescoes placed on the West wall. These feature an intense shade of blue known in the world as , “Voronet Blue”, a colors obtained from lapis lazuli, which has been added to the lexicon of art alongside colors such as the “Titian Red” and “Veronese Green”, being unique.

Bucovina monasteries Voronet

Voronets monastery

Till nowadays masters have not managed to get the same composition as Voronet Blue. Due to this reason one of the walls of the monastery which lost half of the frescoes has never been restored. People are afraid to damage or completely lose the unique paintings which survived centuries.

Bucovina monasteries Voronet

Lost frescoes of Voronet

The inscription placed above the original entrance of the Church of Saint George shows that the church was built in 1488 in less than four months.

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The original entrance to the church

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South façade with scenes from the lives of Sts. Nicholas and John the New

 

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The Last Judgment on the west façade of the Church of St. George

 

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The Last Judgment on the west façade of the Church of St. George.

 

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Saints and Holy Women

I find these symbols both fascinating and mysterious. Though they simply represent eternity. Interestingly they reminded me of Jewish star of David. The more I learn about religions the more I see similarities between them.

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The vault of the exonarthex depicts The Menology

 

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These monasteries are one of a kind historical and architectural monuments of Orthodox branch of Christianity. The style and colors of painting are very different from other Orthodox churches. If you ever go to Romania make sure that you visit at least some of the monasteries. My favorites are probably Voronet and Sucevita monasteries. Voronet for its unique beauty, and Sucevita for its great fortification and cheerful nuns ;-)

So our stay in Bucovina was about to end, next stop – mystical Transylvania, the land of Vlad Dracul, where Brem Stocker gained his inspiration, and which local people simply call Ardeal.

Some information for this post was taken from Romanian monasteries

 

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