The Voronet Monastery, in Suceava, northeastern region of Bukovina, is also named the ‘Sistine Chapel of the East’ due to its enchanting frescoes and particularly to its unique color, blue Voronet. At the base of ‘Voronet blue’ stands the azurite, a blue stone found in China, Africa and France, therefore very expensive to get.
A UNESCO heritage site, the medieval monastery is part of the small town and mountain resort Gura Humorului, in the valley of Voronet River.
While in the area, you can enjoy the iconic sceneries of the surrounding mountains, you can visit the Folk Traditions Museum of Bukovina (in Gura Humorului), the Painted Egg Museum in Vama or the Suceava fortress (in Suceava). Besides, you can also tour other famous painted churches in the region, such as Humor, Sucevita or Moldovita monasteries.
Sambata de Sus Monastery in Brasov county, also known as the Brancoveanu Monastery, was built in 1657 and it was initially a wooden church. The old monastery was put down by the Habsburg cannons in 1785 during the religious revolts in Ardeal against the Habsburg rule.
The monastery was restored in 1926 and it was sanctified in 1946 under the rule of King Michael I, who was also considered the second founder of the monastery.
In the first years of communism, the King’s portrait was covered with several coats of paint to become invisible, as the communists wanted to erase any reference to the Romanian monarchy from the people’s collective memory. King Michael’s portrait was eventually uncovered in the first years after Nicolae Ceausescu came to power.
The monastery can also provide accommodation to the pilgrims. The monastic compound for tourists has 64 rooms, including six apartments.
The monastery is laying at the feet of Fagaras Mountains in a picturesque scenery. If you are in the neighbourhood don’t miss the iconic Dragus village, also dubbed as The Dragon Village.
Nicula Monastery in Cluj county, 50km away from Cluj-Napoca city, is a major pilgrimage center in the northern and central Transylvania.
An unconfirmed tradition holds that the monastery was established in the 14th century. The first documentary mention dates to 1552, when it was an Eastern Orthodox site. A 1659 reference notes that the monastery was vacant. It became Greek-Catholic at the end of the 18th century, just after the creation of that church, and was dedicated to Saint Nicholas.
A radical restructuring took place in the same period, as attested by a wooden church from 1695, an iconostasis from 1694 and a bell from 1696.
An old place of Greek-Catholic pilgrimage, the church of the monastery housed over time the famous icon painted in 1681 by the artisan Luca of Iclod. According to a report by Austrian officers, the icon had been shedding tears between February 15 and March 12, 1699.
Through the school of artisans of icons from Nicula Monastery, Transylvania entered the glass painting technique, originated in Bohemia, Austria and Bavaria, areas where the tradition of glass manufactures was intertwined with the popular Catholic religiosity.
Barsana Monastery in Maramures, northern Romania, is a landmark monastic place for this region, surrounded by breathtaking wild nature spots. It is among the UNESCO world heritage sites. The Barsana Monastery accommodates one of the tallest wooden church in Romania, having 57m height.
The church, which now stands on a small hill surrounded by an orchard, is one of the eight churches on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The name bârsan means a shepherd who keeps sheep with thick long wool, and the word became a surname during medieval times. The village of Bârsana is referred to as the property of kneaz Stanislau, son of Stan Bârsan in documents of 1326 and 1346.
The monastery had by that time existed for some centuries, for a document of 6 November 1405 mentions a field of the monastery. The church was used for monastic purposes until 1791, when the monastery was abolished. In 1802, the villagers decided to move the unused church to the middle of the community.
Dervent monastery is located in Lipnita village, Constanta county, southeastern Romania, very close to the Black Sea coast and to the Danube Delta.
Erected in 1923 on the site of the land where several Christians were martyrized, Dervent is representative of the Dobruja region. The legend says its name derives from an ancient fortress nearby, destroyed in 1036. Dervent means “passing through waters” in Turkish.
Four crosses with alleged healing properties were discovered in the area. There is painting with this meaning at the “Life-Giving Fountain” 200 metres away from the church. The crosses are said to have amazingly emerged from the ground after the martyrdom of four Christians. They were protected during the Ottoman occupation on these lands.
The monastery is 20-km away from Ostrov, which is among the most picturesque and popular places in Dobruja. Although Ostrov is particularly famous for the wines made here, it seems like it also hides a place that few tourists know: Pacuiul lui Soare (Sun’s Island).