Archive for the ‘Maramures and Moldavia’ Category



Iasi was a capitol city of Moldavia and even shortly of whole Romania. It houses the oldest university in Romania and the biggest number of churches. Now this historical city is again gaining the role of political and cultural center of northern Romania.
The most famous landmark of Iasi is Palace of Culture, impressing noegothic building placed on a ruins of medieval royal palace. Finished in 1925, it houses four of city museums – Moldavian History Museum, Museum of Art, Ethnographic Museum and Museum of Science and Technology. On the same square stands st. Paraschiva Metropolital cathedral, the biggest orthodox church in Romania. But the most beautiful church in Iasi, is the Church of Three Hierarchs. Subtile stonework, called stone embroidery, was probably covered with gold, silver and precious stones.



Suceava was shortly, from the end of 14th century, till 1565, the capitol of Moldova, and from these times came most of cities monuments.
In 1388 Petru Musat built the fortress, which was later twice rebuilt and expanded. Stephen the Great enclosed it with higher walls and moat, but it was not enough, to protect from Turkish army. In 1673 citadel was blown up by a Ottomans, and today we can only sightsee the ruins, located on a hill with beautiful view of the city.
From the rule of Petru Musat came also the oldest church in Suceava, Mirauti Church. It was the place of crowning Moldavian princes, including Stephen the Great. But the most interesting church in the city is a St. George’s Church, built in 1514 – 1552. On the exterior walls remains some of murals, in the style similar to other painted monasteries, and the church houses relics of St. John the New.
As befits the centre of Bucovina, Suceava has interesting ethnographic museum, placed in the Princely Inn, one of the oldest buildings in the city. Outside Suceava there is also outdoor museum with examples of Bucovinian rural houses, church and windmill.

Bucovina Monasteries

Bucovina monastery

Bucovina a hilly region in the northeastern part of Romania, which name means “the land of a beech”. But apart from natural sites, Bucovina host one of Romanian most beautiful monuments. The painted monasteries, seven of them on a UNESCO world heritage list, are unique example of exterior decorations in Byzantine style. The whole surface of churches walls is covered by frescos, presenting biblical scenes and figures. Created as a “poor man’s bible”, the role of the paintings was to teach illiterate people religion.
The oldest of the monasteries is also the most popular. Voronet Monastery, is known as a Sistine chapel of the east, and dominating colour of paintings is sometimes called Voronet blue. It was built in 1478, after victory over Turks by a Moldavia prince Stephen the Great.
The last one, Sucevita, come to being at the end of 16th century. The work was never finished, and the western walls remains undecorated.

Wooden Churches of Maramures



Maramures is non – industrial region, known for its vivid tradition and craftsmanship. People living between mountains and forests, came to mastery in a wooden architecture, carpentry and carving. The most amazing buildings are wooden churches, located in the valleys of rivers Mara, Cosau, Isa and Viseu. The eight of them are placed on a UNESCO world heritage list.
The oldest of them is the Church on the Hill, in Ieud. Built in 1364 is the oldest church in whole Maramures. Inside there are 15th century murals, and outside is the Way to the Cross, which consist fourteen icons illustrating last hours of Jesus life.
Other churches came from 17th century, like Budesti (1643), Poienile Izei (1604-1632) and  Rogoz (1663) and 18th century – Surdesti (1767), Plopis (1796-1798), Deseti (1770) and Barsana (1720). All of them represent so called “Gothic style of Maramures”, with steep roofs and high towers. Their interiors are beautifully painted, mainly by local artists. Murals shows biblical scenes, the most popular motive is the Last Judgement.


Sighetu Marmatiei and Sapanta


Historical centre of Maramures, Sighetu Marmatiei or shortly Sighet, is strongly connected with local vivid folk and crafts tradition. Every December city host Marmatia festival of  Christmas traditions, when villagers came on parade, dressed in regional clothes, but with strange accessories, like animal masks. More about tradition can be seen in Maramures Muzeum, which has also the outdoor part. It consist only original buildings, moved from regions villages. Some of them have beautifully carved wooden gates, one of Maramures’ landmarks.
There are two museums in Sighet, which refer to black cards in a city history. The first one, Elie Wiesel Memorial House, is placed in the house of famous Jewish writer, winner of the Nobel Prize. The museum shows normal life of city Jews before Second World War, and a tragedy of Holocaust.
The second museum is called Museum of Arrested Thought, memorial of anti-communist resistance. Placed in a prison, where intellectuals and politics of 1950s got without any legal proceeding, many of them was tortured or starve to death.

About fifteen kilometers from Sighet, lies Sapanta, small town with unusual attraction – Merry Cemetery. In 1935 local wood-carver Stan Ion Patras started writing funny epitaphs on crosses. Every grave on the cemetery has blue cross with colourful painting and several verses about life of the deceased. After Patras death, new tradition is continued and his house is now a museum.