Painted Monasteries of Bucovina

Painted Monasteries of Bucovina

Bucovina ‘The Land of Painted Monasteries’

Bucovina is a region  of Romania that still preserves the old ancient traditions unaltered. The name Bucovina comes from Slavic languages and means ‘The Country of Beech Trees’.

Traditional costumes are still worn by the locals and being a predominantly Orthodox area, the two great religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas are celebrated in a genuine Romanian way, following the ancestral traditions. The people are very warm and welcoming, being always glad to have guests. Not least, local cuisine offers gourmets the opportunity to indulge in the delicacies of traditional Bucovina menus.

Another famous tradition is that of painted eggs, being associated with the celebration of the Easter. This habit of early Christianity consists in painting red eggs, representing the sacrifice of Jesus the Savior. In time, local women raised this tradition to the level of folk art. On a background that can have different colors are drawn and painted a variety of patterns, each having a different meaning inspired by the local folk culture. To keep it for a long time, first it is empty the egg contents with a syringe. Than draw the traditional patterns with a tool having a hole in the thickness of a hair. At the end, each square centimeter of the shell is painted by dipping in color, protecting the rest of the egg surface with a layer of wax. Thus, these masterpieces of folk art can be exhibited and preserved over the years.

Bucovina is also called ‘The Land of Painted Monasteries’. Unique in the world, these churches are painted both inside and outside. Incredible, the exterior frescoes dating back to the first half of the 16th century survived the nature’s hardships to the present. This is why they were listed in the UNESCO heritage (The United Nation Organization for Education, Science and Culture). The walls of the churches are painted using the fresco technique. A wet plaster is applied on the wall, than the painting is carried out while the wall is still wet. The colors were obtained from a mixture of plants, clays and minerals known only by the master painter. Thus, the painted monasteries of Bucovina keep for centuries unique colors, impossible to be reproduced.

Any traveler who visits Bucovina is advised to see at least four pained monasteries. Each has a history, a spiritual patron and a different color code. Voronet Monastery, founded by ruler Stefan the Great was built in 1488, in only 3 weeks and 3 days. The church of the monastery is dedicated to St. George. The fresco was painted in 1547 on a blue background, being called the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Orient’.

Sucevita Monastery, was founded by the Movila brothers in 1584. The church of the monastery is dedicated to Jesus’s resurrection. The fresco was painted in 1595 on a green background.

Moldovita Monastery, was founded by ruler Petru Rares in 1532. The church of the monastery is dedicated to Holy Announcement. The fresco wass painted in 1537 on a yellow background.

Humor Monastery, was founded by the lord Toader Bubuiog in 1535. The church of the monastery is dedicated to Assumption of Virgin Mary. The fresco was painted in 1535 on a red background.  This is the only church that does not have a steeple, the explanation being that it was built by a nobleman and not a ruling king. A fun fact is that one scene painted on the church facade depicts the devil as a woman.

Artistic expression of the Orthodox faith and the refinement for beauty of the Romanian people, the painted monasteries delight the heart and mind of anyone who comes to Bucovina.

Article by Gabriel Florea.