One of Moldavia’s monasteries is so beautiful that art historians compared it to the Sistine Chapel. We are talking about the Voroneţ monastery, built by Prince Stephen the Great, proclaimed saint of the Orthodox Church, at the request of another Orthodox saint, Dani Hermit, the ruler’s advisor. At the heart of Voroneț lies a relatively modest-sized church, dedicated to St. George, which was built in 1488 in just three months and three weeks, a record for that time. Between 1488 and 1785, Voronet operated as a friary. After the monastic settlement was closed, the local parish took over the church. In 1991, the monastic life resumed as a convent for nuns. The Voroneţ church was constructed following a Byzantine three-lobed plan which showcases a Moldavian vault with Gothic elements stretching over the nave. The light comes in through Gothic windows. In 1547, the Bishop of Moldavia, Grigore Rosca, added an enclosed porch, illuminated through rectangular windows, a mark of Renaissance art. The west wall is compact, having no openings, and serves as a canvas for a painting of stunning beauty. Inside, the painting was completed back in the days of Stephen the Great, while the exterior painting was only finalized during the reign of Petru Rares, the son of the founder. This particular painting is quite extraordinary because it combines Byzantine and Renaissance elements, as well as folk influences. The best example is the most famous painting in Voroneţ, Judgement Day, which is a haunting composition due to its perfection.
The Archangels heralding Doomsday are not blowing trumpets, but horns, which are wooden instruments, still used today by some villagers in Bukovina. A very special feature is the Voroneţ Blue. It is a well-known colour, whose secret has not yet been discovered. Scientists showed that this colour was obtained by mixing azurite powder, a blue mineral with an unidentified organic substance. Azurite is not found in Romania, which implies that Petru Rares imported this mineral and that the painting must have cost a fortune. Artists used the al fresco method, which means painting on a moistened wall. Every day, they would outline the surface that was about to be painted and they always began painting from top to bottom. Usually, the surface painted throughout a day depicted a biblical scene. These were separated from the other painting by using frames with floral motifs.
Travel info: The distance Bucharest and Voroneţ is 444 kilometres, while between Cluj-Napoca and Voroneţ it is 279 kilometres.