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by Laura Oprea
August 9, 2005
The church is surrounded by a fortified wall. The plan is complete: it has an altar in the main apse, a nave, a funeral space, a narthex, and an opened exonarthex.
In the altar are the regular scenes: on the altar’s vault is the Virgin with the Holy Child adorned by two angels. On the wall are the Communion of the Apostles, the legs-washing, and the Last Supper. Here appear also the Resurrection and figures of the hierarchs and deacons. In the nave are represented scenes from Christ Passions. In the lower side are the portraits of the founders of this church, and near them are the Saint Emperors Constantine and Helene, which represent the ideal model of rulers. In the same lower side are, like in any other church, the military saints, which represent the warrior church, just like the saints represented on the upper side represent the divine church. In the funeral space, which follows the nave, are painted the martyrdoms of the saint, which correspond to each month. This representation serves like a prayer for those who are buried here. This prayer continues in the narthex, where it is completed by the holy councils.
In the exonarthex, we can see a few scenes from the Old Testament, like some scenes from the Genesis and the life of Noah, but also some scenes from the life of Saint Nicholas. On the east wall is the Judgment Day, a very common scene in the Moldavian County. The silhouettes of the figures are elongated, reminding one of the Quattrocento painting.
The exterior is the most fascinating. On the south side is the hymn dedicated to the Virgin, which ends with the scene of the flaming bush (a vision of Moses, who saw the Virgin like a flaming bush) and the siege of Constantinople (a scene specific in this county, which doesn’t appear in the other Romanian territories), which is an allusion to the attacks of the Turks against the Romanian people. Here is a beautifully conserved scene. On the same wall follows the Jesei Tree (Jesus’ genealogy). On the apses is a prayer of all saints. On the north wall, the painting is much deteriorated, but there are some painting traces. On the west extremity of the north wall are the heavenly customs (inspired by a popular legend regarding the road wandered by the soul to heaven and the obstacles put in his way, corresponding to his sins).
This is one of the most important monuments of Moldavia that possesses exterior mural painting. It is a great representation of the Moldavian history (the siege of Constantinople) and respect for traditions, which is reflected in the painting.
From journal Buchovina
London, United Kingdom
July 31, 2000
This church was originally a defensive site, as well as a religious foundation. When you enter the grounds, you walk past the impressive walls and gates, built to keep invaders out. The walls are so thick you can walk along them for a great view - be polite to the monk in charge and he'll let you do just that. This compound has an entrance fee, but it's a very small amount in western terms, about 50p. If you’ve been haring around the churches all day, this is a great place to sit in the lovely gardens, chill out for a bit, and examine the scenery and architecture.
The 16th century frescos include a Day of Judgement Scene, but to be honest it isn't as impressive as the one at Voronet. The frescos are still beautiful, and there's a very interesting museum attached to the church, which mostly has religious stuff in it. If you’re not well acquainted with Christianity in this part of the world, so have a look. It has the different vestments from different times of year laid out, together with alter cloths, and diagrams of what decoration the church has. There are also some very interesting pictures and photographs of monastic life. We came here towards the end of our day in Bukovina, and it was a lovely, relaxing place to sit and think for an hour.
From journal Bukovina - a delight to the eyes, and tranquility