The Painted Monasteries Highlights

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Among the most picturesque treasures of Romania are the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina (in northeastern Romania). Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell.

Deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art, these churches are one-of-a-kind architectural sites in Europe. Far from being merely wall decorations, the murals represent complete cycles of religious murals. The purpose of the frescoes was to make the story of the Bible and the lives of the most important Orthodox saints known to villagers by the use of images. Their outstanding composition, elegant outline and harmonious colors blend perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

Whether you are interested in religion, history, art or architecture, you will be intrigued by the construction and decor — exterior and interior — of these edifices.

The best-preserved are the monasteries in Humor, Moldovita, Patrauti, Probota, Suceava, Sucevita, and Voronet. Another, a small church, is located in the village of Arbore. Seven of the churches were placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1993. The eighth, Sucevita, is awaiting sanction to be added on the list.

                                                      

Transportation

Easily accessible from both Suceava – with its direct airline and rail links with Bucharest, and Iasi – offering daily flight connections from Vienna and Bucharest , the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina can be viewed in one frustratingly rushed day, but are better savored in two or three.

The town of Suceava may be the best starting point for a trip to the monasteries.
Iasi – the largest city in eastern Romania – is located 95 miles southwest of the painted monasteries area.