Moldovita Monastery

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Romania 1995. Moldovita Monastery. Romania 1996. Postcard featuring Moldovita Monastery.

Moldovita Monastery is a smaller complex than Sucevita, but equally well defended, its ivy-clad walls enclosing white stone buildings with lustrous black shingled roofs.  The monastery was founded in 1532 by King Stephen the Great's illegitimate son, Petru Rares, during whose reign the Turks finally compelled Moldavia to pay tribute and acknowledge Ottoman suzerainty. The monastery's frescoes were painted by Toma of Suceava in 1537, at a time when Petru Rares still hoped to resist, despite the inexorability of the Turkish advance since the fall of Constantinople in 1453.  

Romania 1970. Petru Rares and his family. Romania 1969. The Siege of Constantinople.

To raise morale, the Turkish siege was conflated with an earlier, failed attempt by the Persians in 626.  A delightfully revisionist "Siege of Constantinople" along the bottom of the south wall depicts Christians routing the infidel with arrows and cannons and miraculous icons being paraded around the ramparts.  Illustrated above this is the "Hymn to the Virgin" composed by Metropolitan Sergius in thanksgiving for her intervention, while further along is a lovely "Tree of Jesse", with dozens of figures entwined in foliage.  All the compositions are set on an intense blue background.

Romania 1971. St. George Slaying the Dragon. Romania 1971. Three Kings and Angel. Romania 1971. The Crucifixion.

The open porch contains a fine "Last Judgment", showing a crowd of dignitaries growing agitated as a demon drags one of their number, said to be Herod, towards the fires below, where Satan sits on a scaly creature - defaced with oddly formal nineteenth-century German graffiti.  Within the church, saints and martyrs are decapitated en masse around the narthex (where Bishop Efrem is buried) and the nave, whose doorway bears an expressive "Mary with Jesus".  Also notice the mural of Petru Rares, with his wife and sons, presenting the monastery to Jesus, on the right, as you enter the nave.

Romania 1968. Maximum Card featuring Moldovita Monastery. Romania. Postcard showing rescoes from "The Siege of Constantinople.

Nuns' cells line on side of the compound, while in the northwest corner rises an imposing two-storey clisarnita, a guesthouse for passing dignitaries, with a circular tower.  Built in 1612, this contains a museum of monastic treasures, including a silver-chased Evangelistry presented by Catherine the Great, and the wooden throne of Petru Rares, a bust of whom has been erected outside. 

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Other World Heritage Sites in Romania (on this web site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Romania-Section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus 
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