One of the most beautiful monasteries in Europe is the result of the collaboration between craftsmen from Moldova and Transylvania, during the rule of Petru Rareș, Prince of Moldavia, who also possessed major feuds in Transylvania. Moldoviţa Monastery is one of the most sublime expressions of the Moldavian Gothic architecture. In Moldoviţa, the first place of worship was built during the time of Prince Alexander the Good, in the early years of the fifteenth century. Nonetheless, this place of worship was destroyed, and in 1532, Petru Rareș decided to set up a new monastery, dedicated to the Annunciation. The monastery combines Gothic and Byzantine elements. Stonemasons from Transylvania, and most likely Bistriţa, were involved in the construction. The church follows a three-lobed plan, similar to the shape of a Byzantine cross. It has an open porch, followed by the narthex, above which rises a dome that is supported by eight intersecting arches. The room is lit through four windows. The burial chamber is next, here we find the tombs of distinct personalities, such as Ephraim, the bishop of Rădăuţi, and above the tomb chamber lies a secret room, "tainița". After this, visitors may enter the nave, with a tower built on top, circular on the inside and octagonal on the outside. Eventually, the tower is followed by the altar room, separated from the nave by an ornate iconostasis.
The church was painted in 1537 by the most famous artist of the time, Toma of Suceava. One of the most beautiful paintings is the Tree of Jesse, illustrating the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Toma of Suceava's painting departs from the canons of Byzantine art, instead the influence of the Italian Renaissance are brought to the surface through his rendition of humanized characters. A carved armchair from the time of Petru Rareș is preserved inside the church.
A Fortified Monastery
The monk monastery had a defence role. It is fortified with an enclosure wall six feet high and 1.2 metres thick. Between 1610 and 1612, Ephraim, the bishop of Rădăuţi built a residence inside the monastery. He also founded a school of manuscripts and miniature copyists in Moldoviţa, which produced some of the most beautiful manuscripts in Eastern Europe. The monastery was dissolved in 1775, and in 1932, it was re-established as a convent.
Box: Distance Bucharest - Moldova is 475 km, and between Cluj-Napoca and Moldova it is 266 kilometres.
Foto: Petr Sporer