The Moldovita Monastery
Moldovita Monastery was built in 1532 by the care of ruler Petru Rares. The famous assembly is made up of a ruler’s house, hermitages, 4 defence towers and the church. Defended by strong walls of more than 6 metres high and 1.20 metres thick, the monastery gathered a slight aspect of fortress. But this does not affect the charm of Moldovita monastery.
It is known that, before the building of the monastery, ruler Alexander the Good built a stone church patronised by the Good News, around which a monk settlement developed under the name of Moldovita Monastery. Due to a devastating rain, in the 16th century Alexander the Great’s settlement fell down, so that today there can only be seen a few ruins. Close to these ruins the Moldavita church built by ruler Rares was going to be placed.
Conceived as a threefold plane, with a well-proportioned and thin allure, Petru Rares’ realisation is typical of the constructions from Stephen the Great’s time. What confers it a special appearance is the open porch, realised in the church’s plane through massive pillars and high, broken arcades. The passing towards the pre-nave is through an imposing portal with mouldings in Gothic style. The pre-nave’s vault is lifted on eight inter-crossed arches. The windows on the northern and the southern sides, cleverly made, are split along their height by a column having a rosette fretted into rock.
Adorning elements of Renaissance origin can be noticed on the entrance door into the tomb room.
The frames of the doors and windows, cut in broken arches, with ribs and rosettes in the shape of clover are of Gothic influence. A vault in Moldavian style covers the nave. The lateral apses, but also that of the altar, are polygonal on the outside and round on the inside.
Incredibly beautiful frescos surround the church both on the outside and on the inside. Saint Martyr George killing the Dragon and Saints Martyrs Dimitrie and Macarie are presented on the outside eastern façade. The walls of the pre-nave include scenes of the Prayer for the Dead and Constantinople’s Siege.
The scenes “Air borders” and those from “The Apostles’ preaching” present folkloric characters. The inside painting develops according to the old canons of the Orthodox Church. The inside of the porch is covered with The Public Judgement and a few moments of the making of the world. The pre-nave’s vault is dominated by the painting Saint Mary holding Jesus the Child and praying surrounded by angels. The saints celebrated by the Orthodox Church are painted also on the walls of the pre-nave. Most of the painted walls of the tomb room have been blackened by smoke. There can still be distinguished the scenes Deisis, Mother Mary’s Falling Asleep and the portrait of abbot Avramie, during whose time the church was painted. Jesus surrounded by heavenly powers dominates the cupola of the pre-nave, the Gospel preachers being represented nearby in pendentives. The scene of the Holy Ghost’s descending and that of The Crucifixion are presented in the northern and southern apses. The ordeal of the Saviour, military saints and emperor saints occupy the space of the nave register. The votive painting placed on the western wall present ruler Petru Rares and his lady Elena on the right. Petru Rares’s clothes are painted in very careful detail. In the painting from Moldovita, as well as in other monasteries, we can see painted motives and aspects from Moldavia’s life. Thus popular towels and embroidered blouses can be distinguished in the characters’ clothing; specific Moldavian weapons are presented in the fight scenes. The Moldavian school of religious painting has had a rapid development during the reign of Petru Rares. The Moldavians have a brilliant tradition of popular art and which is ages old. This art has been their true big aesthetic school. Endowed with artistic sensibility, they created a personal vision about colours and chromatic harmony, about painting, rhythm and the relation between full and empty. The compositions are plastically realised, with a great sense of the characters’ movement, with a genial intuition in the distribution of the caloric dose, which proves once again the value of the painters prepared in the Moldavian school.
Priest Gavril of Suceava is the one who decorated in 1593 the iconostasis with splendid floral motives where gracious birds are interwoven. The emperor’s icons of the iconostasis date back in 1779.
A few tombstones of certain Moldavian rulers from the 17th century are in the pre-nave.
Efrem, Bishop of Radauti between 1610 – 1612, built a rectangular plane building on the right side of the interior. Its façade presents architectural elements originating in the Romanian Country. A calligraphy school functioned in the Moldavita settlement in the 15th century.
The church has in its patrimony a few objects of artistic and historical value. The triptych long list of persons – work of art by sculptural decoration and historical document at the same time, because of the two Epitaphs – embroidery made in the 15th century. The ruler’s chair is among the most beautiful work of arts. It is attributed to Petru Rares’ reigning period. Remarkable by its proportions of monumental allure, the chair is decorated with Moldavia’s escutcheon, with lines and small cross-like flower interweaving.
Regardless of all the modifications it underwent, the settlement from Moldavita stays a page of art and history for the Moldavians and not only for them.