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Moldova :: Holy grounds. Moldavian monasteries

Breaking into mystic secrets, observing a monk’s life full of prohibitions, discovering incredible historical facts and listening to legends — all these are available in Moldavian monasteries, counting about 55 locations (including Transdniester). All the venues are orthodox and all of them (except the old-fashioned monastery in Cunicea, Floresti district) have their doors opened for visitors. Certainly, one has to respect some rules: women can’t wear short skirts or dresses and must have their heads covered with a handkerchief. Men aren’t allowed shorts and undershirts. More, the majority of monasteries offer their visitors longer skirts and handkerchiefs.

The monasteries were founded between 14th and 18th centuries and since then didn’t lose their individuality. At local shops one can buy wine prepared by monks, souvenirs, taste honey and bread made there. The visit to the monasteries (the list will be presented lower) will remain in your memory as an intense moment spent in Moldova!

If it is to make a top of the most visited monasteries, the list will definitely include one of the oldest holy places in Moldova — Varzaresti Monastery (from the homonymous village, district of Nisporeni),covering a part of village itself, having the cells as usual houses; Ciuflea — a monastery situated in the centre of Chisinau near the church that served as cathedral during Soviet Union period; Hirova — monastery in Nicolaeuca village (Orhei district), where monks live in small cells having the roofs made of reed; Japca (Japca village, Floresti district) — a monastery situated on the bank of Dniester into an abyss, and the only place that wasn’t closed during soviet times, consisting of a cave monastery and an active church; Noul Neamt from Transdniester — an enormous monastery having the tallest belfry. And the list would’t last here. We recommend you visiting them. Maybe not all 55, but definetely a couple of them.

Capriana Monastery

The monastery for men dedicated to „Assumption Of The Virgin“ is situated in the village of Capriana, Straseni district, and represents the most important holy place from Moldova. Founded during reign time of prince Alexandru cel Bun in 15th century, the monastery became the residence of bishop and a long period was kept under the protection of Moldovan princes. The enormous buildings — churches, cells, conference halls and bishop’s residence shows the importance of the place along history. In March 1821, the first bishop of Basarabia, Gavriil Banulescu-Bodoni was buried here. The monastery was recently restored and will appear in front of tourist in whole its beauty!

Curchi Monastery

The venue is located in the village of Curchi, Orhei district. There is a beautiful legend concerning the establishment of the monastery „Birth Of The Virgin“, that could actually happen. The legend itself is sufficient enough to determine one visiting it. Based on this story, one could shot a film. The excursion through the holy place is guided by a monk, who will tell you the reason this unique for its beauty place was chosen by the landowner Iordache Curchi for building the monastery in 1773-1775.

Curchi was one of the richest monasteries. There was a spiritual school there. A printing works and a library were founded. The dining room had a capacity of 1000 person. The oldest church, whose domes reflected in the lake was built, according to the prior monk, after the plan of the famous architect Bartholomeo Rastrelli. In the monastery the tourists will be shown an icon that during soviet years was many time painted, and despite this continued to appear through the paint.

Saharna Monastery

The monastery for men „Holy Trinity“ differs by its pastoral spirit and churches built in old Moldavian manner. They are not too big and the cells resemble ordinary village houses. But especially because of its simplicity, this place attracts so many tourists.

The monastery is located in a picturesque abyss, where the springs flow out and the cascades sound noisy. For the travellers a font was installed near the spring. The cave monastery, assigned to 12th-15th centuries remained preserved. In the rocks there is an active church.

At Saharna monastery, situated on the bank of Dniester, you cand see the icons that cry holy, and very rare relics. Unstopable fluxes of tourists come here to discover the mystery of the place!

Moldavian churches

In Moldova, almost every village (there are aproximately 4 thousand of them) has its own church. The date when the churh gets hallowed is declared the Holiday of the village, or of the town — a very important event, celebrated very pompous. Many churches represent true monuments of history and culture of the republic, a few of them are unique (to the churches from Chisinau we dedicated the column „Chişinău“).

The oldest church that maintained its initial form is „Assumption Of The Virgin“ from Causeni, that was the capital city of the Golden horde. Some historians believe the church was raised during 15th-16th century. In the church an unique Byzantine inscription stayed preserved, but the face of saints had the eyes pinked. There is an amazing story you will be told in the church regarding the reason of this gesture. Moreover, you will find out why the entrance to the church is beneath the ground level. Today the church acts as a museum.

Another unique church is situated in Cucurestii de Sus, Floresti district. It was built by the famous architect Alexei Sciusev in 1912, and ordered by Bogdan family. The walls were made of stone of different colours that gives the monastery a particular fineness. The genuine system of air conditioning and heating remained preserved.

A place that attracts many tourists and pilgrims is „St. Dumitru“ Cathedral from Orhei, built between 1634-1640. This is the only church left from the time of Vasile Lupu.

Among modern churches, the one that amazes most is the cathedral „Assumption Of The Virgin“ from Drochia (1990). Nowadays, this is one of the biggest cathedrals in the country. It took almost 2 years for painting only, as there were to cover about 3 thousand sq. metres on walls and domes. The cathedral was painted by the famous Romanian artist Petre Achitenie. This was his last work.

In Moldova there are also wooden churches, that are being restored gradually. The church „Protection of The Virgin“, from Palanca, Stefan-Voda district, was completely restored. Touching churches, that resisted natural calamities can be found in Vorniceni, Straseni district(1791), and Horodiste, Calarasi district (1797).

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