One of Romania’s “must see” is the Bucovina region, and its richly painted monasteries. Built in the 14th-16th century, these on-of-a-kind monuments were brightly coloured in order to appeal to the simple people. The simple yet attractive graphical representations of biblical scenes were meant to facilitate the commoner s understanding of the words of the gospel. The majority of these places of worship have endured the attack of time and are still almost completely preserved. Join us on a two day trip and find out more about these unique UNESCO monuments and everything else Bucovina has to offer.
Because Bucovina is more than a couple of hours driving from Bucharest and there aren’t any good weekend flight connections, for sure the best way to make a short trip to the painted monasteries is by train. Departing from Bucharest’s “Gara de Nord” (North Station) at 21.30, we will check in to our sleeping wagons and enjoy a good night s rest until we reach our destination.
We will arrive at Gura Humorului shortly before 5.30 A.M. and will be picked up at the train station by our guide and minivan. We will drive directly to a small and picturesque B&B, check in and refresh before enjoying a nice breakfast with home-made traditional products such as sausage, ham, different types of cheese, jam and vegetables.
After this feast, the journey into the world of the Romanian Orthodoxy will begin. The four monasteries included in the tour have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. They were built in the 15th and 16th century and decorated with both indoor and outdoor frescoes. Popular interpretations of the Bible, depicted in the wall paintings, are influenced by a mixture of religion, tradition, local history and regional politics. Although the motifs are similar in all monasteries, each monastery of them has its own points of attraction: in Moldoviţa one can admire a unique representation of the siege in Constantinople, Suceviţa represents the ladder of the virtues, and Humor possesses the oldest iconoclast in the area … In Moldoviţa we will also get the chance to visit a lady who is an expert in carving and decorating eggs using bee wax and paint made from natural ingredients, a local craft which represents a unique tradition. In the evening we will return to our B&B and enjoy a great dinner with local products and dishes.
In the morning we will depart for Suceava, the former capital of Moldova and biggest city in the area. The ruins of the medieval citadel tell great stories, some of them going back to the 13th century. We will also visit the bishop’s residence and a very beautiful monastery, dedicated to the local saint, John Novi of Suceava.
At noon, we will depart for Dragomirna, a small village just outside of the city, where one can find a little architectonic and historic treasure. The monastery of Dragomirna was built later than the other monuments we are going to see on this trip, but has a unique architecture and is situated on the banks of a small lake, in a magical location. The church is surrounded with high walls and strong defensive towers, which were originally built to protect it from invading armies.
Returning to Gura Humorului, we will visit Romania’s most famous monastery, Voroneţ. Built by Stefan the Great, one of the country s most celebrated ruler and hero, the church is covered with lively frescoes, dominated by a fantastic blue shade, unique in the world, and with one of the most original and appreciated depiction of Judgement s Day. This is the reason why, this monastery is often called “The Sistine Chapel of the Orthodoxy”.
In the evening we will return to our B&B for dinner. Plum brandy, blueberry liqueur and some delicious mushroom dishes will ensure we won’t get hungry until we reach Bucharest. At 11 P.M. we will go to the train station and depart for the capital in the sleeping wagons (arrival in Bucharest at 7.23 A.M.).