Painted Churches in Northern Vltava (World Heritage)

According to extrareference, The Romanian Orthodox monasteries and monastery churches are located in southern Bukovina and were built in the 15th and 16th centuries. Their interiors, and in many cases also the outer walls, are richly decorated in Byzantine style with frescoes. The most beautiful examples include the monasteries in Moldoviţa, Arbore and Voroneţ. The Church of the Resurrection of the monastery in Suceviţa has also been a World Heritage Site since 2010.

Painted churches in northern Moldova: facts

Official title: Painted churches in northern Vltava
Cultural monument: Under the sweeping church roof, painted exterior facades of monastery churches from the 16th century with depictions of legends of saints and scenes from the Old and New Testaments, including the “Sistine Chapel of the East” in Voroneţ depicting the fall of man and the threefold coming of the Son of Man; the monastery church of Humor with a depiction of the siege of Constantinople; the church of the Suceviţa Monastery, built like a citadel, with the depiction of the leaders of the forces of virtue; Church of the Resurrection of the Suceviţa Monastery (new in 2010)
Continent: Europe
Country: Romania
Location: Churches of Humor, Proboţa, Voroneţ, Suceviţa, Moldoviţa and Arbore, in the vicinity of Suceava, north of Bucharest
Appointment: 1993, extension 2010
Meaning: churches unique in Europe with late Byzantine fresco paintings on the outer walls

Painted Churches in Northern Vltava: History

1400-32 Reign of Alexander the good
1457-1504 Reign of Stephen the Great
1488 Construction of the Voroneţ Church
1527-37 Reign of Petru Rares
1530 Construction of the Church of Humor and that of Proboţa
1537 Construction and fresco painting of the Moldoviţa monastery church
1541 Facade frescoes of the church in Arbore
1547 Façade frescoes by Voroneţ
around 1600 Construction of the Suceviţa Church

Picture Bible outdoors

In a landscape with wooded mountains and green slopes, some smaller churches catch the eye because of their exterior frescoes. In Moldoviţa, for example, the colorful paintings can be seen from afar across the pointed roofs and towers of the monastery square. In Voroneţ and Humor, instead of cell and farm buildings, the monastery church is only surrounded by a low wall and a grassy garden, so that the closer viewer – as in Voroneţ – immediately under the spell of the depiction of Isaiah, Simeon with the child and the the threefold coming of the Son of Man.

Voroneţ Monastery, the jewel of Bukovina, was painted by unknown artists during the time of Metropolitan Grigore Rosca. Master Toma is considered a painter of humor, a church that was built during the reign of Prince Petru Rares, a son of Stephen the Great, in the first half of the 16th century. Prince Petru Rares, who with his men resisted the Turkish invasion of Moldova until 1538, is also considered to be the founder of the frescoes of Moldoviţa and Arbore. Most recently, the monastery church of Suceviţa was masterfully designed by Prince Petru Schiopul around 1600 by the brothers Ion and Sofronie.

Inside all the churches, which are divided into vestibule, forecastle and nave – in some cases a burial chamber has been added between the fore and nave – it is always a bit dim. The darkness increases the emotion of believers, deepens the impression of the mystical. Light that falls from above through the windows of the dome in bundles of rays reinforces this impression. In addition to Byzantine vaults – domes on hanging spandrels – there is the so-called “Moldavian vault” with three semicircular apses. The unique paintings on the exterior walls were applied to wet plaster. Colors were obtained from plants and minerals to which cow bile, soot or lime charcoal were added. It was primed with egg yolk before the colors were applied. And Voroneţ impresses with its unique blue, Arbore with its green.

From the life of Christ, only the main episodes are shown without parables or miracles, summarized in scenes against the usual backdrop of mountainous landscapes or castles and without the representation of other figures than those that were necessary for understanding. The folds and facial expressions give the biblical figures a certain dynamic, even if one was always concerned with spiritualization and making it visible.

The west wall of the monasteries usually shows the Last Judgment and the fall of the sinners into hell. In Voroneţ, for example, where holy and heavenly hosts can be seen on hierarchical levels, Hellfire is also depicted. The south side shows the root of Jesse. This pictorial tradition is based on Isaiah’s saying that “a rice will sprout from the rootstock of Jesse, which has borne the flower of the Most High.” enumerated «. Everyone carries a banner calling them by name. For a congregation who is not literate, this is a superfluous, purely decorative addition. Because painting was actually designed as a picture Bible. On the south wall, a visual hymn of praise to the Virgin Mary is intoned in 24 pictures. As a final scene, the siege of Constantinople is portrayed in memory of the battles of Stephen the Great, as the Turks were considered arch enemies at the time the church was built in Voroneţ. That is why many monasteries came into being in the course of the 16th century: as evangelizers and cultural messengers.

For Romanians, Voroneţ is a symbol of Moldova and a synthesis of all the monasteries of northern Moldova, but at the same time a visible expression and crowning of the spiritual and aesthetic creative will, despite the rigors of the times and the unfavorable not only local history.

Painted Churches in Northern Vltava (World Heritage)

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