Moldavia is a province in eastern Romania, sprinkled with many christian orthodox churches and monasteries.
The Churches of Moldavia are Byzantine churches, some of them famous not only for their inner decorations but also for their painted exterior walls, as the famous Churches of Bukovina.
On the other hand, Moldova’s wooden churches are one of Romania’s cultural and architectural treasure still insufficiently known or exploited. Most of them were built between ca. 1300 and 1800 by old rulers or – the smaller ones – by local boyars and are spread all over the region, with a higher density in northern Moldavia.
Covered in brightly colored frescoes depicting religious scenes from the Bible and dating back from as far as the 15th century, the eight painted churches of Moldavia were listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and are generally included in most touristic tours.
What most likely won’t be offered on a standard tour, are the other treasures of northern Moldavia, the old wooden churches. Many of them are ranked as historical monuments and are in general smaller, with roofs covered with shingle, some with only two crosses at both ends and without a tower. Dated back to 1353, the Serban Voda Church in Putna, is considered one of the oldest still standing wooden churches in the World.
Agapia and Varatec Convents
In the Neamt region of Moldavia, one will also find some of the most iconic monasteries of the country: Agapia and Varatec.
The monasteries of Văratec and Agapia are Orthodox nun monasteries and are both included in the UNESCO world heritage site due to their historical and cultural importance. Near the Văratec monastery one can also visit the grave of Veronica Micle, the muse of the national poet Mihai Eminescu.
The whitewashed walls and balconies of Varatec Convent enclose a lovely garden shaded by cedars. The novices inhabit two-storey buildings while the nuns live in cottages inside or outside the walls of the Convent, in the village nearby.
In fine weather, it’s an agreeable walk through the woods from Văratec monastery to Agapia. You can either follow the 7km trail between Varatec and Agapia Convents (takes about an hour and a half) or you can simply walk along the asphalt road connecting the two convents.
There is also an icons museum here and an embroidery schools established in 1934 by Queen Mary.
The Neamt Monastery
The 12-century Neamt Monastery, 12 km NW of Targu Neamt, is the oldest in Moldavia and also the largest monks monastery in Romania.
From the outside it resembles a fortress, with its high stone walls and only one (out of four) remaining corner tower.