One major tourist attraction in Bucovina are undoubtedly the painted monasteries and churches, many decorated with unique exterior frescoes representing biblical scenes. Built to celebrate the victories of the rulers of those times, these painted monasteries and churches represent, in addition to their historical value, true cultural treasures while exhibiting uniquely painted exterior frescos as well as interior murals and designs.
Deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art, the painted churches of Bucovina are unique architectural sites in Europe. Far from being merely wall decorations, the exterior frescoes represent complete cycles of religious murals. The paintings were made during a time when few people knew how to write and read, so the bible was illustrated in pictures – both on the inside and outside walls of these churches – for everybody to understand.
In the years when Michelangelo appreciated that “frescoes are the most difficult and daring paintings”, the painters from Bucovina created paintings comparable to the great European masterpieces. Moreover, their frescoes hide secrets and mysteries that have not yet been deciphered, even today, after more than 500 years.
Unique in the world for their exterior paintings realized with pigments left unknown to our days, eight painted monasteries and churches located in Bucovina have been included in the Unesco patrimony:
- Arbore (a church not a monastery)
- Voroneț (considered the jewel of Romania’s painted church crown, its frescos feature the philosophers Aristotle and Plato, as well as apostles, evangelists, angels and demons; also famous for the unique dominant color of its exterior frescoes, the “Voronet blue” which was impossible to reproduce up to our days; )
- Sucevița (thought to have been the last painted monastery, built between 1582 – 1601, and it certainly is one of the most impressive. The ‘Ladder of Virtues’ portrayed on its exterior is a real highlight).
All of them are located in Suceava County, northern Moldavia, and were built approximately between 1487 and 1583. They are spread within ~ one hour drive from Suceava (which is also served by an airport), the capital city of Bukovina.
You love history, culture, you like good food and want to enjoy some unforgettable landscapes? These are enough reasons to head to visit Bukovina and its famous painted monasteries.
Where to go next?
Not far from Suceava, in the nearby Botosani county you’ll find over 20 old churches made in wood which are ranked as historical monuments having a high historical, artistic and architectural value. It’s an area where you’ll find the oldest villages and cities from the region and therefore the highest number of historical monuments, many of them not really covered by the popular touristic guides, so it’s your chance to discover them on your own pace.