Stavropoleos Church: Religion in the Heart of Bucharest

Stavropoleos Church is included in many of our tours in Bucharest. More details on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

The tiny Stavropoleos Church is one of the most beautiful religious monuments in the capital of Romania. Tucked away between taller buildings in Bucharest´s Old Town, the church is almost three centuries old today.

It’s part of Stavropoleos Monastery, founded, like the church, by the Greek monk Ioanichie who became a Metropolitan of Stavropolie, the name also used for this splendid 18th-century monument.

Stavropoleos Church

Stavropoleos Church

From richness to ruin

The construction of the church and monastery were finalized in 1724, two years after the inn of Stavropoleos was built. This cohabitation was a current practice of the time when inns and churches were spread all around the Old Court. Stavropoleos Monastery quickly became one of the richest in Bucharest thanks to the donations of its many well-off worshipers.

The 19th century marked, however, the decay of the monastery, seriously damaged by fires, bad administration and earthquakes.

Stavropoleos Church

Old funeral stones in the inner court

On the brink of collapse, the monastery and the inn were demolished at the end of the 19th century. The church was restored and the monastery was rebuilt in the early 20th century by Ion Mincu, one of the best-known Romanian architects, who designed it in the Neo-Romanian architectural style of the time.

The small court of the monastery became after that point a veritable museum, an open-air collection of stone crosses and other parts of churches that no longer exist in Bucharest. In fact, between 1904 and 1940 the church was closed for religious service and only functioned as a museum.

Stavropoleos Church

Afternoon at Stavropoleos Church

Masterpiece of the ‘Brancovenesc’ style

Stavropoleos Church is a masterpiece of the late ‘Brancovenesc’ style from the early 18th century. This original style appeared in Southern Romania and developed especially during the reign of Prince Constantin Brancoveanu (1688-1714), a patron of several churches and monasteries in Southern Romania, including the Monastery of Horezu, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The ‘Brancovenesc’ style combines local, Oriental, Byzantine and late Italian Renaissance elements. It’s an authentic synthesis of the influences that shaped the cultural life of the region during the time of this prince, celebrated by the Romanian Orthodox Church as a saint.

stavropoleos church

View of the monastery space

Among the key elements of the style so well represented at Stavropoleos Church are the porch with stone columns carved with dazzling floral patterns, the carved door portal and window frames, the carved wooden door and the use of columns to separate the nave and narthex inside the church.

The church preserves partially the interior and exterior frescoes, and the monastery has a rich collection of rare icons, iconoclastic objects and old history and religious books. You can visit the museum of the monastery only with a prior appointment.

Probably the most visited church in Bucharest, the lovely Stavropoleos Church is truly a must if you’d like to explore one of the oldest and most remarkable religious monuments in the capital. In fact, if you only want or have time to see just one church, look no further. Stavropoleos Church is the picture-perfect image you don’t want to miss in Bucharest.

Travel tips

Other monuments from central Bucharest built in the ‘Brancovenesc’ style are Coltea Church, Antim Church and Kretzulescu Church. Close to Bucharest, you can also visit Mogosoaia Palace.

Avoid Sunday mornings when the church can be overcrowded.

Stavropoleos Church is included in many of our tours in Bucharest. More details on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

TAKE ME THERE

Diana Condrea
Diana Condrea
Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer, focusing on sustainable tourism practices and destinations. You can find Diana Condrea on Twitter and Google+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *