June 24, 2011

God and Man, Mihai Eminescu

Cozia Monastery - Icon painted on the entrance wall
Cozia  Monastery - Icon painted on the entrance wall
 
Of the old book, eaten by moths, with whiffed covers
I have opened up the lustrous pages, covered with their old letters
Twisted like the blind thinking of strange centuries,
Sad like the airsick bellow the sunken berries.

But on the last page, with sinuous and dry contours
I saw you were born in straw, small and unsightly face
Christ,  a hieroglyph with a plaintive sight,
Mary, sitting quietly with sniff neck and mournful eyes.

Those, My Lord, were the times when those with daring minds
Have been helped by the rough grossly engraving...
While the childlike hand, the burning sight of the holy
Has failed to understand, to imitate in its Icon.

But the virgin soul was thinking of you, hoping for peaceful nights,
Seeing you laughing among the tears, with an angelic smile.
Knelt down at your sides, your mother stood in awe
Raising to the heaven her beautiful and holy hand.

Alongside the ancient forests of the Great India
Within, like oasis, it has been endless empires,
Kings furthering the peace and destinies of their people
Worship to wisdom their passing lives.

But an old wise man, old as the world, gathers them and speaks
About a new belief which has been born into the world, powerful and stronger
Than all that were noticed before. And a shining star
Is burning in the sky, revealing the path to the miracles.

Does it succeed to solve all that was left unsolved ?
Does humankind dream be quiescent for human being?
Does it be the arm to wipe away the ineffectiveness of humanity?
Or may be the hidden spring of true enlightenment?

Does it be able to dispel the eternal anxiety,
The pain which has been born from its limited power
And its unlimited desire ?... Leave aside your hasty words,
Kings, go kneel down for the new born in the stable.

In the stable ?... Was the truth born of a humble spirit?
And the Lord is swaddled in humiliation clothes?
From the suffering of a century, the martyrdom of the entire world,
A star of peace was born, giving light to the earth and sky...

Loads of gold and myrrh are burdened on the camels
And are carried on caravan following the bright morning star,
Which, along with the moist air, looks like having a chip of the sun
Which has just slipped through the blue sky towards the eternal compassion.

And then, the longing of the Christian Heart will see the desert,
And throughout, the wise men from the East, walking like shadows,
Quietly royal shadows, following the happy star...
The moon's rays were shining on the desert skies.

On top of the mountains, with laurel hedges and olive tree groves,
Telling the fairy tales, the shepherds saw the Star
Which put on skies a shinny smile throughout its rays as snow
And they've followed its holy light to the divine stable.

Today, the artist conceives you as a king on his throne,
But his vain heart doesn't follow his elegant handwriting...
By the spirit of his century had been pierced his heart
And the perception in his mind is that you are a Man, not God.

Today, the light of thoughts are readily perceived like the hay-fire,
Yesterday you were pure faith, but sincerest and deep,
You were the King of mankind, the belief in you was hard as rock...
Today it throws you on canvas, or engraves you in marble.


Hurezi Monastery - Icon painted on the entrance arches
Hurezi Monastery - Icon painted on the entrance arches


"God and Man" / "Dumnezeu si Om"   is one of  Mihai Eminescu's poems  from 1873, dear to my heart.  I really wanted to share its beauty with all of you, so in my English translation of it I have tried to maintain the meaning of the poem (sorry for the missing rhymes).  The Romanian poem is from wikisource.




Cărții vechi, roase de molii, cu păreții afumați,
I-am deschis unsele pagini, cu-a lor litere bătrâne.
Strâmbe ca gândirea oarbă unor secole străine.
Triste ca aerul bolnav de sub murii afundați.

Dar pe pagina din urmă, în trăsuri greoaie, seci,
Te-am văzut născut în paie, fața mică și urâtă,
Tu, Christoase, -o ieroglifă stai cu fruntea amărâtă,
Tu, Mario, stai tăcută, țeapănă, cu ochii reci!

Era vremi acelea, Doamne, când gravura grosolană
Ajuta numai al minții zbor de foc cutezător...
Pe când mâna-ncă copilă pe-ochiul sânt și arzător
Nu putea să-l înțeleagă, să-l imite în icoană.

Însă sufletul cel vergin te gândea în nopți senine,
Te vedea râzând prin lacrimi, cu zâmbirea ta de înger.
Lângă tine-ngenuncheată, muma ta stătea-n uimire,
Ridicând frumoasă, sântă, cătră cer a sale mâne.

În pădurile antice ale Indiei cea mare,
Printre care, ca oaze, sunt imperii fără fine,
Regii duc în pace-eternă a popoarelor destine
Închinând înțelepciunei viața lor cea trecătoare.

Dar un mag bătrân ca lumea îi adună și le spune
C-un nou gând se naște-n oameni, mai puternic și mai mare
Decât toate pân-acuma. Și o stea strălucitoare
Arde-n cer arătând calea la a evului minune.

Fi-va oare dezlegarea celora nedezlegate?
Fi-va visul omenirei grămădit într-o ființă?
Fi-va brațul care șterge-a omenimei neputință
Ori izvorul cel de taină a luminii-adevărate?

Va putea să risipească cea neliniște eternă,
Cea durere ce-i născută din puterea mărginită
Și dorința făr- de margini?... Lăsați vorba-vă pripită,
Mergeți regi spre închinare la născutul în tavernă.

În tavernă?... -n umilință s-a născut dar adevărul?
Și în fașe d-înjosire e-nfășat eternul rege?
Din durerea unui secol, din martiriul lumii-ntrege
Răsări o stea de pace, luminând lumea și cerul...

Sarcini de-aur și de smirnă ei încarcă pe cămile
Și pornesc în caravană după steaua plutitoare,
Ce în aerul cel umed, pare-o așchie din soare,
Lunecând pe bolta-albastră la culcușu-eternei mile.

Ș-atunci inima creștină ea vedea pustia-ntinsă
Și pin ea plutind ca umbre împărați din răsărit,
Umbre regii și tăcute ce-urmau astrul fericit...
Strălucea pustia albă de a lunei raze ninsă,

Iar pe muntele cu dafini, cu dumbrave de măslin
Povestind povești bătrâne, au văzut păstorii steaua
Cu zâmbirea ei ferice și cu razele de neauă
Ș-au urmat sfințita-i cale către staulul divin.

.....................................................................

Azi artistul te concepe ca pe-un rege-n tronul său,
Dară inima-i deșartă mâna-i fină n-o urmează...
De a veacului suflare a lui inimă e trează
Și în ochiul lui cuminte tu ești om ­ nu Dumnezeu.

Azi gândirea se aprinde ca și focul cel de paie ­
Ieri ai fost credința simplă ­ însă sinceră, adâncă,
Împărat fuși Omenirei, crezu-n tine era stâncă...
Azi pe pânză te aruncă, ori în marmură te taie.

Hurezi Monastery - Icon painted on the wall
Hurezi Monastery - Icon painted on the wall

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

June 6, 2011

Explore the Carpathian Garden 2011

Romania, the Charming Romanian Folk Art and Folklore

On May 31th, 2011, under Romania's tourist brand "Explore the Carpathian Garden" launched last year at Shanghai, was started a new campaign to promote Romania internationally as a tourism destination.

The Romanian's Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism campaign / Ministerul Dezvoltării Regionale şi Turismului  invites again  the foreigners to Explore the Carpathian Garden on three international television channels: CNN, Euronews and Eurosport.

  



Important is that the advertising actions will run for a year, and the total value of the promotion campaign (4.96 million euros, with VAT, according to the website of  The Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism / Ministerul Dezvoltării Regionale şi Turismului)  are non-reimbursable European Union funds, the promotion of Romanian tourism for 2011-2012 period on international media being financed under the Regional Operational Programme 2007-2013, Axis 5/ Programul Operaţional Regional 2007-2013, Axa 5,  the operation ”Creating a positive image of Romania as a tourism destination by defining and promoting the national tourism brand / Crearea unei imagini pozitive a României ca destinaţie turistică prin definirea şi promovarea brandului turistic naţional




The advertising spots talk about Romania: one make an overall description, other two being more specific: about Romanian's nature and culture.




Explore yourself the Carpathian Garden watching them and believe me: the Romanian culture, the people and the places full of inspiration and history like Romanian Unesco World Heritage Sites are full of magic!