The painted monasteries of Moldavia

The eight Orthodox Churches of Moldavia are an unique example of Romanian architecture. They have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage since 1993. And for a good reason: they are Byzantine masterpieces. Especially the fresco paintings on the external walls are breathtaking. All built from the late 15th century to the late 16th century, but the mural paintings are still authentic.

Humor Monastery

The Humor Monastery is not very funny, but it is very impressing. Constructed by Petru Rareş, the Moldovian prince, it was one of the first monasteries to be frescoed. The reddish brown is typical for this monastery. If you only have time to visit two of the painted churches of Moldavia, then you should definitely check out this one. You can find this monastery close to the charismatic village of Gura Humorului.

Arbore Church

The historic Arbore Church is a monastery in Arbore. It is one of the more quiet monasteries of northern Moldavia. So if you don’t like other tourists, go to Arbore.

Church of the Holy Cross

You can find the Church of the Holy Cross near Pătrăuți. Again, this is one of the ‘lesser known’ famous churches of this region. But it was built by one of the grandest Romanians of all time: Stephen the Great. It is also one of his oldest original buildings still standing.

Moldovița Monastery

The Moldovița Monastery is a famous one. Still in a good condition, this church was built by Petru Rareș, the son of Stephen the Great, and was also a protective barrier against the Turks. The frescoes were painted in 1537 by Toma of Suceava and they are well preserved.

Probota Monastery

Petru Rareș also constructed the Probota Monastery. The church itself is in good shape, the frescoes however are badly damaged by the weather. The surroundings however are still beautiful as ever.

Saint John the New Monastery

The New Monastery? What is new? This monastery was built between 1514 and 1522, so this one is indeed an oldy. It’s a beautiful church, a cathedral even, and it’s located in the city of Suceava. So if you stay in Suceava to visit the churches of Moldavia, you’re never far away from Saint John the New Monastery.

Sucevița Monastery

Sucevița Monastery is situated near the river with the same name. The church has some Gothic and some Byzantine elements, which makes this structure a little different from the other Moldavian churches. The mural paintings are in a great shape, so you can follow the biblical episodes easily. The paintings are from 1601, so that’s relatively new.

And of course: the Voroneț Monastery

We’ve saved the best for last. The Voroneț Monastery is famous for it’s blue color, also known as Voroneț blue. The Sistine Chapel of the East is absolutely a must see. You can’t go to Moldavia without visiting this intense place. We need to thank Stephen the Great for this great piece of art. So yeah, thank you Stephen!

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