June 14, 2011

Romanian Monasteries in Oltenia

Romania is a “magic museum” famous for its unchanged way of life and dramatic-wild scenery, its cultural heritage and for its well-preserved historic monuments, rustic villages and religious architectures. An abundance of medieval towns, castles, fortresses and churches is emphasizing the gorgeous beauty of the landscapes, blending and contrasting with the western and European modernism. Romania joins in its territory all the tourist attractions that makes any journey along its land to became an unique and unforgettable experience for every traveler.

Bistrita Monastery Complex, Oltenia
Bistrita Monastery Complex, Oltenia,  Romania

This post is one dear to my heart in a series on describing Romanian tourist destinations, because Oltenia is the south-western part of Romania where I spent many years of life. It is part of the historical Wallachia / Valahia province inherited from Dacians, situated between the Danube, The Southern Carpathians and the Olt River. It is known only by the very few informed travelers, although it does represent an important piece of the Romanian history and architecture. Among Oltenia province, the Wallachian (Valahian) Princes have built stunning monasteries, most of them in the Brancoveanu architectural style (Romanian genuine style named after Constantin Brancoveanu, the Wallachian prince who ruled between 1688 and 1714).


Hurezi Monastery, Oltenia, Romania
Hurezi Monastery, Oltenia, Romania
To visit them it is a great opportunity to enjoy magnificent architecture, and to spend time in a rustic and magic scenery.
Hurezi Monastery, Oltenia, Romania, paintings right to the main entrance
Hurezi Monastery, right to the main entrance
Unfortunately they do not appear in most guides, like the Monasteries from Moldavia or the wooden churches from Maramures, even they may be visited on the road: some of them lie next to the road and railway linking Ramnicu Valcea with Sibiu, other are located on the Romanian national roads close to Ramnicu Valcea and Targu Jiu cities or other SPA towns: Calimanesti, Caciulata, Govora, Olanesti. In these SPA towns and cities can be set up accommodation for travelers who can also enjoy the Romanian traditions, habits and the way the Romanian villages looks. And, for those who want to enjoy either pleasure or utility, in these SPA centers are cured rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, asthma, allergies, the respiratory tract problems, hepatitis and digestive affections with bee-propolis, ultra-sounds and mineral waters rich in sulfur and bromine.

Hurezi Monastery, Oltenia, Romania, paintings left  to the main entrance
Hurezi Monastery painting, left to the main entrance


After I 've seen the advertising spots to promote Romania in 2011-2012, the images of the Romanian Monasteries in Oltenia Area were rising in my thoughts. So, I was looking to find some pictures taken in my road trips in this magnificent area, and I spotted today just few monasteries from Oltenia, Valcea County.



The most important religious architectural monument from the Brancoveanu period is Horezu Monastery (1690-1697) / Manastirea Hurezi - which has been inscribed since 1993 by UNESCO on its list of World Heritage Sites protected in Romania.

Hurezi Monastery, Oltenia, Romania, main entrance
Hurezi Monastery, Oltenia, Romania


Impressive church at the foot of Capatinii Mountains / Muntii Capatinii!
It is protected by strong walls well preserved,  decorated with exterior stone sculptures, and  a valuable bunch of frescoes. The legend says that, being afraid of the Turks, the workers did everything at nighttime.

Govora Monastery, Oltenia, Romania
Govora Monastery, Oltenia, Romania
Close to Horezu, in the area of Govora, an important SPA health resort in Romania, are preserved the Govora Monastery/ Manastirea Govora (1488) and The Monastery From One Trunk / Manastirea Dintr-un Lemn (16th century).

Govora Monastery, Oltenia, Romania, interior paintings
Govora Monastery interior paintings, Oltenia


The Govora Monastery is really small, modest, but well proportioned and following the genuine Brancovanian architectural style.There is still preserved a beautiful interior painting, as well as a feudal art museum. The legend of the Monastery From One Trunk said that an icon of the Mother of God, which creates wonders,  was found in a hollow of a huge centuries-old oak tree, which was transformed by the peasants of the neighborhood into a church.




Other tourist attraction in Oltenia, Cozia Monastery(1386-1388) / Manastirea Cozia,  is situated alongside the Olt Defile which has been cut by Olt  River through the southern Carpatian Mountains. The Cozia Monastery, named also "Nucet" or "The Nut Grove", is the resting place of Mircea the Old (Mircea cel Batran), The Great Ruller of Wallachia, father of Michael The Brave / Mihai Viteazul Voievod, and Vlad the Impaler’s (Vlad Tepes) grandfather.

Cozia Monastery, Valcea County, Oltenia
Cozia Monastery, Valcea County, Oltenia

"The Holy Trinity" Church of the Cozia Monastery was built by Mircea the  Old in 1388 with Wallachian architecture and Byzantine Medieval influences.

Stained glass at Cozia Monastery Mircea  the Old and Michael the BraveThe richness and the elegance of the original frescoes, the decorations and the valuable painting from the 14th century are still well preserved and I'm sure will attract your attention.

Stained glass at Cozia Monastery Petru prince and his family Other strenght of this historical place is the  stained glass windows of the Cozia Church  with the Monastery founder Mircea The Old  (Mircea cel Batran) and his son Michael The Brave (Mihai Viteazul Voievod) and with the co-founder Petru (Petru Voievod de la Arges) and his family.




Turnu Monastery, Oltenia, Valcea county
Turnu Monastery, Oltenia, Valcea county


Close to this monastery, in Cozia Mountains, can be visited other religious arhitectural monuments : Turnu Monastery / Manastirea Turnu (1676)  and Stanisoara Monastery (1747) / Manastirea Stanisoara.

 Turnu Monastery, Valcea county - interior paintings
Turnu Monastery, Valcea county - interior paintings
The name of Turnu Monastery comes from a massive defense tower constructed by Romans in the second century on the "Teofil's Peak / Piscul lui Teofil". This tower was part of the "Arutela" Roman Castra still preserved in "Poiana Bivolari".

Bistrita Monastery / Manastirea Bistrita (1491 - 1492) complex preserves the church built by the "Ban " (the name of the official representative of the Prince of Wallachia in Oltenia Area)   Barbu Craiovescu  between 1520 - 1521  on the charming Gorges of the Bistrita River / Raul Bistrita.

Bistrita Monastery, Oltenia - interior paintings
Bistrita Monastery, Oltenia - interior paintings

The interior of the church was painted by Gheorghe Tattarascu, Romanian painter (1820-1894)  who painted also more than 50 churches in Bucharest and the Metropolitan Church of Iasi/ Biserica Metropolitana din Iasi. 

Arnota Monastery (1633 - 1636) preserves mural paintings made in 17th century with great folk documentary value.


Arnota Monastery, Oltenia - mural paintings
Arnota Monastery, Oltenia - mural paintings



The Arnota Monastery was built by the prince Matei Basarab  (whose grave lays in the monastery) and renovated by Constantin Brancoveanu  in 18th century.


All of these are really amazing tourist attractions and centers of Romanian culture which today host also small museums of religious art. They lies in the Oltenia province, and may be visited in only one day trip starting from Bucharest, as you can see on the next map:


View Romanian Monasteries in Oltenia in a larger map

1 comment:

jANI Jack said...

Great information about Bistrita Monastery Complex! It looks like a historical place. It is the most famous place in Romania. It is the major tourist attractions in this country. I’m recently come back denver to yellowstone tours with my wife. It is also nice place for visiting. The images are awesome. I must visit this historical place on my next tour. Thanks for this sharing friend.