Painted Monasteries of Bucovina

Despite the fact “Easter” has already passed for the Catholic Christians, us, Orthodox are still celebrating the Holy Week until Sunday, the Day of the Resurrection. Today we continue our journey through places of worship all the way across the country in the north-east part of the country, where beautiful Bucovina will reveal Painted Monasteries that had made the area internationally acclaimed. What make these monasteries unique is their architecture, as well as the interior and exterior frescos, which represent astonishing treasures of Moldavian art.

43 of the monasteries found here were built in the 14th century, by the order of Stephen the Great in honor of his victories over his enemies.

Starting the year of 1993, the following eight painted monasteries of Bucovina were registered on the list of International Cultural Heritage of UNESCO: Arbore (“Tăierea capului Sfântului Ioan Botezătorul” church), Humor ( „Adormirea Maicii Domnului” church), Moldovița (“Buna Vestire” church), Pătrăuți (“Sfânta Cruce” church), Probota (“Sfântul Nicolae” church), Suceava (“Sfântul Gheorghe” church), Voroneț (“Sfântul Gheorghe” church), Sucevița (“Învierii” church).

Arbore Church was built by Luca Arbore in 1503, while the interior and exterior frescos are dated in 1541. The church doesn’t have a tower, but only an interior niche which, is told, was used for the bells. The mural’s focal point is extraordinary durability of the blue pigment, while architecture innovations and the balance in dimensions are observed in its construction. Made out of brick and rock extracted from nearby areas, the Arbore Church’s construction started from the simple idea of a longitudinal church and came to be conspicuous by its great styling. Found in the narthex, the ark is considered to be the most valuable funeral symbol of the Gothic style in Bucovina.

Humor Monastery was built in 1530 by the chancellor Toader Bubuiog and faces amazing picturesque landscapes. It was not the first church in Moldavia to have exterior paintings, yet the beautifully preserved frescos can still tell parts of Romanian history, such as “The Siege of Constantinople”. The interior walls hold votive paintings, the most representative of them dedicated to the owner of the Moldavian throne, along with his family.

Moldovita Monastery was built in 1410 by Alexandru cel Bun, replacing an older church. The monastery church was rebuilt in stone by Petru Rares. The exterior mural painting was made by Thomas (“Thomas Humor”), who also painted Humor Monastery, in 1537. Unfortunately only the northern part of the mural was untouched by the climate. The frescoes show scenes from the Moldovan Orthodox fight against the Ottomans. In 1975 he won the ”Pomme d’Or “awarded by FIJET for his unique painting. The best preserved murals are on the south facade. The three outer aisles – one for the altar and two of the nave are adorned with paintings depicting scenes of prayer with all the Saints, joined by representatives of classical culture: Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle and Sophocles, considered precursors of Christianity.

Sucevita Monastery was built by Bishop George Movila and his brothers Jeremiah and Simon Movila in 1584. Sucevita is the most architecturally complete Monastery in regards to interior and exterior paintings. Its painting was made by John Painter in 1596. The dominant color is green. The exterior painting is the best preserved, including the north side, where the ladder Virtues – the antithesis between good and evil, Prayer of All Saints, a unique theme. The south façade represents the Tree of Jesse, Akathist to the Theotokos. It is the last church made with exterior painting and therefore considered by the Frenchman Paul Henry “testament of Moldavian art”.

painted monasteries bucovina

Voronet Monastery

The Monastery of Voronet was built by Stefan cel Mare in 1488, between May 26 and September 14.  The church enjoys a high reputation among lovers of medieval painting art because of its characteristics: dominant blue, made with a pigment unknown to this day, extremely durable over time, and the Judgement scene held throughout its western wall, uninterrupted without opening any doors or windows. The “origin” legend of the church forever unites two great personalities in our national destiny: Stefan cel Mare and founder of the monastery, Father Daniel, the first abbot of the monastery, one of the greatest saints in Moldovian vision, thus proclaimed hermit and confessor.

You can always visit these unique wonders, discover important historical moments, or simply find your inner peace and quiet with a tour in Bucovina: Inner Peace Tour.

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