The Rasca Monastery
After passing by the villages Bogdanesti and Rasca, one runs into the church built by Petru Voda Rares, situated into a forest. The monastery underwent several reconstruction periods during the centuries.
The construction initially built in 1542, in the ordinary style of the epoch, of reduced dimensions, with an archaic plane and adorned with fresco paintings, was to be modified by Costea Bacioc, The Great Magistrate of the Romanian Country, between 1611-1617. He added to the old church a massive porch doubling the dimensions of the church. The spire of the nave was modified at about the same time and it completely changed the appearance of Petru Rares’ church.
The 1827 refurbishment of the church will bring along new modifications in its aspect. Thus, the windows were enlarged, the southern entrance from the porch was built in and the old painting was completely remade. A new porch of reduced dimensions was built on the western side, and a new wooden spire was built between the two existing ones. The pictorial decoration was restored with fidelity and partly remade by the masters of the time, keeping thus the original models. As a consequence, the painting will transmit the iconographic and compositional plane of the past centuries.
According to the tradition, on the three registers of the altar one can see scenes form the life of Saint Virgin Mary and the Apostles’ Eucharist and the Life and Ordeal of the Saviour are painted on the walls of the nave. It is extremely interesting that the painters kept the old appearance of some paintings, like in the case of the portrait of Saint Nicholas from the north-eastern corner of the altar and the Multiplying of the Loaves on the wall of the nave. The two big compositions (The Last Judgement and Saint John’s Ladder) decorating the church on the outside are placed on the southern wall and carry the same archaic stamp reminding the style of the Moldavian painters from Rares’ time. Of certain 19th century influence are the votive painting placed inside the porch and the few painting fragments on the walls added by Costea Bacioc, which made through time.
The tombstone of Bishop Macarie lies under the niche of the votive painting. He wrote for his descendants the story of Petru Rares Voevod’s ruling years inscribed in a chronicle. The tombstone of Alexander Lapusneanu’s mother sits next to it. According to the tradition the tombstones were brought from the pre-nave of the church into the porch.
Architectural elements specific for the 17th century are obvious in the bell-tower.
The inside wall provided with towers in the corners was remade and super-heightened, and the northern side totally rebuilt in the 18th century. The hermitages were built between 1821 and 1842.
Mihail Kogalniceanu was imprisoned at Rasca, in the tower-bell, for his innovative political opinions, from ruler Mihail Sturdza’s order.
Notwithstanding its modest proportions, the Rasca Monastery became one of the most important monastic settlements of Moldavia’s past. The settlement at Rasca was destroyed and plundered by the Tartars. Nothing could be kept of the monastery’s thesaurus. Only during the reign of Calistru Ene – 1750-1778 – did they attempt to partially remake the construction.
By its relative simplicity and its reduced dimensions, the Rasca Monastery offers the viewer an image filled with refinement.