Sinaia Monastery: Royalty, Faith and Three Centuries of History
On the way to the beautiful Peles Castle, you’ll find one of the oldest monasteries in the country, Sinaia Monastery. With a history that goes back 300 years, marked by a special relationship with the royal family, this venerable monastery is a must-see attraction given its two churches built 150 years apart.
The Old Church
The monastery and the Old Church were built in 1695 by Prince Mihai Cantacuzino after his trip to the holy grounds of Nazareth and Jerusalem. Profoundly impressed by the image of Saint Catherine Monastery, he decided to dedicate a place of worship to Virgin Mary back home. Located in the dense forests of the Carpathians, the small monastery was named Sinaia, in the memory of Mount Sinai where Moses allegedly received the Ten Commandments.
The Old Church was built in the authentic ‘Brancovenesc’ style, the first Romanian architectural style, developed in the 17th century and the early 18th century. The rich-carved stone columns, the porch and the attention paid to smallest details are among the remarkable elements of this style, perfectly represented here.
The original Byzantine paintings from the end of the 17th century, famous for their compassionate and humble figures, are still preserved in the narthex and in the space of the porch. The coat of arms of the Cantacuzino family – the two-headed eagle holding the two symbols of imperial power: the scepter and the cross – and the sculptures of Moses and his brother Aaron decorate the splendid rock portal from the entrance, a central element of the ‘Brancovenesc’ style.
The New Church
The New Church dates back to 1846, but was renovated and enlarged in the following decades at the initiative of King Carol the 1st who used the monastery as a summer residence until the inauguration of the nearby Peles Castle. Given the constant presence of its royal guests, the Great Church was adorned with the large-scale painted portraits of Queen Elisabeta and King Carol the 1st and two royal seats close to the altar.
The large proportions of the New Church and combination of typical elements of the ‘Brancovenesc’ style — the small porch with carved stone columns and ornated portal — and the Moldavian church style — high and solid walls similar to a fortress — create a one of a kind church in Southern Romania, a symbol of the cultural unity of the Romanian provinces.
Don’t forget to visit the museum of Sinaia Monastery, in fact, the first religious museum in Romania, hosted in the wing used as a summer royal residence.
Sinaia Monastery is the perfect stop before or after your visit to Peles Castle. The oldest monument in Sinaia and one of the most important religious monuments in Southern Romania, the monastery and its two churches are among the top attraction in this small mountain resort King Carol the 1st loved so much.
Visit Peles and Pelisor Castles, but also the Train Museum where you can see small replicas of many trains in miniature cities.
Visit Cantacuzino Castle from the nearby resort of Busteni.