Voronet Monastery or the Sistine Chapel of the East
You don’t have to be very religious to enjoy a visit at Voronet Monastery, perhaps the most famous of the painted monasteries of Bucovina, symbols of Christianity during the anti-Ottoman crusades, included today on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Sistine Chapel of the East
Also known as the ‘the Sistine Chapel of the East’ due to its splendid frescoes, the church of the Monastery of Voronet was built in just a couple of months, in 1488, by Stephen the Great, the most popular prince of Moldavia, after one of his victories against the Ottoman armies. This was a common practice of the prince whose cultural and architectural legacy is known as the Moldavian style, many of the churches built this way being still preserved until today in the regions of Moldavia and Bucovina.
Combining Byzantine and Gothic influences with local architectural elements, the church of Voronet Monastery was from the very begnning more than a religious construction. Its exterior frescoes, added in 1547, showed the moral stories of the Bible to the illiterate villagers of the time, persuaing them to act according to the Christian norms. Exquisite testimonies of their painters’ talent, the frescoes of Voronet conserve a centuries old secret. The distinct ‘Voronet blue’ paint is unique in the world, its composition and replication remaining a mystery even today.
Religion on walls
The most impressive of all the frescoes is the scene of the Last Judgment, painted on its wide western side, in a singular representation for the Eastern Christianity. Its originality lies in the combination of the Biblical characters with symbols of the local culture including musical instruments, traditional clothing and nearby landscapes in an attempt to make it more representative for the local community. Many more symbolic characters, including Adam and Eve or Greek philosophers are painted on other walls of the monastery.
The monastic life at Voronet was interrupted at the end of the 18th century after Bucovina was conquered by the Habsburg Empire, and nuns only returned at the monastery in 1991. Today, the Voronet Monastery is one of the must-see attractions of Romania, and during summers is one the most popular destinations in the scenic land of Bucovina.
Explore the secular forest of Slatioara where trees reach a couple of meters in circumference.