It is almost impossible not to be impressed by the beauty inside churches and cathedral. Can you imagine that there are churches that are equally beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside? Yes, Romania is home to lots of those monasteries and they go by the name ‘the painted monasteries of Bucovina’. This refers to the paintings in which the inside, as well as the outside, is covered. It’s so unique and so beautiful that you just have to see them when in Romania.
These monasteries aren’t that far apart from each other so I decided to take a day trip and visit as much of them as possible. I started in Iasi, where my hotel is situated. The ride to the first monastery took about an hour, but please be patient. It’s so worth it! This is a small guide on the best-painted monasteries around. First stop: Piatra Neamt.
This is where it all started. The Nativity of St. John the Baptist Church stands tall on a large square in front of the museum. I’m actually not sure whether this church is part of the painted monasteries. The paintings on the outside are almost not visible but the inside totally made up for this.
Here I found a whole complex of monasteries very close to each other. The first one I saw was the Church of Sf. Joan Jacob Hozefitul. This monastery was by far the most beautifully decorated on the outside. The paintings look like they’ve been applied yesterday, that’s how bright and magnificent they are. This place is so magical that even the many nuns visiting it couldn’t stop taking photos with their iPhones after they’d prayed like crazy. It was a very funny thing to see.
The second monastery here is the Neamt Monastery. This a huge Romanian Orthodox religious settlement, one of the oldest and most important of its kind in Romania. It was built in the 15th century! Large walls surround the complex and the church standing in its courtyard. As soon as you walk through the thick wooden doors, you have to buy a ticket for 5 lei. There is a museum here and of course the church. This church is something else! The inside is wonderful but especially the holy vibe is what makes this place different.
Probota Monastery was the last monastery I visited on this day trip. After having seen so many monasteries on one day, I thought nothing could amaze me anymore. Yet, Probota Monastery succeeded to do just this. It was very quiet here and I saw literally nobody. I was the only one there. I walked along some old ruins towards the church itself. The paintings on the outside were visible but very faded. That was a shame but the inside is one of the finest of its kind. 4 nuns were singing the holiest melodies and it captivated me. I just stood there listening to their songs for a while.
The painted monasteries of Bucovina are certainly worth a day trip. They won’t fail to amaze you.