The legend of the founding of Suceviţa monastery says that all the stone required to raise the imposing structure was carried by a single woman and her oxen-drawn chariot for 30 years, in an attempt to redeem her sins. However, in reality, the monastery was founded by one of the most important aristocratic families in Moldova, Movilă, which gave the Moldavian and Wallachian people rulers, as well as Bishops for Moldova and Kiev. The monastic ensemble was attested to in 1582, during the time of Prince Peter the Lame. The construction remains faithful to the Moldavian style, crystallized during the reign of Stephen the Great and later developed during the time of Petru Rares. The edifice combines Byzantine and Gothic elements, as well as some traditional Moldavian architectural features. The building has a three-cusped plan and an enclosed porch. Later on, two small open porches were added. These were made from pillars connected through braced arches, which is a Wallachian influence.
The church, dedicated to the Resurrection, has alcoves on the three apses, but also Gothic stone frames for the windows and doors. We find decorative niches under the cornice that embellish the star-shaped base of the steeple. The north facade of the church showcases a painting done in a unique manner by the brothers John and Sophronius. It depicts The Ladder of Divine Ascent, inspired by the writings of St. John Climax. The two princely brothers, Jeremiah and Simon are buried inside the church. The church reveals a true work of art: the iconostasis carved from yew wood, an artefact dating from the nineteenth century, more precisely, from 1801.
An Ecclesiastical Citadel
The church is surrounded by a genuine fortress, which attests to the fact that the monastery not only had a spiritual role, but also a strategic one, of defence. The squared enclosure is quadrangular, with sides of 104 x 100 metres. The precinct wall has a height of six metres and is three metres wide. It is also reinforced with buttresses, ramparts, a guard road, and four towers placed in the four corners and also an entrance tower, which accommodates a chapel on one of its floors. There used to be a princely residence inside the monastery, but only a few rooms and the cellars have survived.
Travel Info: The distance between Bucharest and Suceviţa is 481 kilometres, and between Cluj and Suceava it is 294 kilometres.
Foto: Larisa Stan