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Voronet Monastery

Voronet Monastery

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Voroneț is a monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 in Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, located in the town of Gura Humorului
Gura Humorului
Gura Humorului is a town located in northern Romania, Suceava County in southern Bukovina. Until 1918 it was in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and formed a shtetl...

, Moldavia
Moldavia
Moldavia is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river...

. It is one of the famous painted monasteries
Painted churches of northern Moldavia
The Churches of Moldavia are eight Romanian Orthodox churches in Suceava County, Romania in northern Moldavia, built approximately between 1487 and 1583.Since 1993, they have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site...

 from southern Bukovina
Bukovina
Bukovina is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains.-Name:The name Bukovina came into official use in 1775 with the region's annexation from the Principality of Moldavia to the possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy, which became...

, in Suceava County
Suceava County
Suceava is a county of Romania, in the historical region of Moldavia and few villages in Transylvania, with the capital city at Suceava.- Demographics :...

. Between May and September 1488, Stephen III of Moldavia
Stephen III of Moldavia
Stephen III of Moldavia was Prince of Moldavia between 1457 and 1504 and the most prominent representative of the House of Mușat.During his reign, he strengthened Moldavia and maintained its independence against the ambitions of Hungary, Poland, and the...

 (known as "Stephen the Great", in Romanian Ștefan cel Mare) built the Voroneț Monastery (in Romanian Mănăstirea Voroneț) to commemorate the victory at Battle of Vaslui
Battle of Vaslui
The Battle of Vaslui was fought on January 10, 1475 between Stephen III of Moldavia and the Ottoman Beylerbey of Rumelia, Hadân Suleiman Pasha. The battle took place at Podul Înalt , near the town of Vaslui, in Moldavia...

. Often known as the "Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio...

 of the East", the fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es at Voroneț feature an intense shade of blue known in Romania as "Voroneț blue". "The exterior walls — including a representation of the Last Judgment
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

 on the west wall — were painted in 1547 with a background of vivid cerulean blue. This blue is so vibrant that art historians refer to Voroneț blue the same way they do Titian red."

Church


The katholikon
Katholikon
A Katholikon or Catholicon is the major temple of a monastery, or diocese in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The name derives from the fact that it is the largest temple where all gather together to celebrate the major feast days of the liturgical year. At other times, the smaller temples or...

 (main church) of Saint George
Saint George
Saint George was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic , Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox...

 at Voroneț Monastery is possibly the most famous church in Romania. It is known throughout the world for its exterior fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es of bright and intense colours, and for the hundreds of well-preserved figures placed against the renowned azurite background. The age of the monastic site is not known. A legend tells us that Stephen the Great, in a moment of crisis during a war against the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, came to Daniel the Hermit at his skete
Skete
A Skete is a monastic style community that allows relative isolation for monks, but alsoallows for communal services and the safety of shared resources and protection...

 in Voroneț and asked for advice. After he won the battle against the Turks, keeping his promise to the monk, the Prince built a new church, dedicated to Saint George, the "bringer of victory in battle". The commemorative inscription placed above the original entrance of the Church of Saint George, now in the exonarthex
Narthex
The narthex of a church is the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper...

, shows that the church was built in 1488 in less than four months. It was built on a triconch plan (with three apses), with a chancel
Chancel
In church architecture, the chancel is the space around the altar in the sanctuary at the liturgical east end of a traditional Christian church building...

, a naos
Cella
A cella or naos , is the inner chamber of a temple in classical architecture, or a shop facing the street in domestic Roman architecture...

 with its tower, and a pronaos. In 1547, the Metropolitan Bishop
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 of Moldavia, Grigorie Roșca, added the exonarthex to the west end of the church.

The small windows, their rectangular frames of crossed rods and the receding pointed or shouldered arches of the interior doorframes are Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

. The south and north doors of the exonarthex of 1547 have rectangular frames, which indicate a transition period from Gothic to Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. But, above them, on each wall is a tall window with a flamboyant
Flamboyant
Flamboyant is the name given to a florid style of late Gothic architecture in vogue in France from the 14th to the early 16th century, a version of which spread to Spain and Portugal during the 15th century; the equivalent stylistic period in English architecture is called the Decorated Style, and...

 Gothic arch. The whole west façade is without any openings, which indicates that the intention of the Metropolitan Roșca was from the beginning to reserve it for frescoes.

On the north façade is still visible the original decoration of the church, the rows of ceramic enamelled discs in yellow, brown and green, decorated in relief. These include heraldic motifs, such as the rampant lion and the aurochs
Aurochs
The aurochs , the ancestor of domestic cattle, were a type of large wild cattle which inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa, but is now extinct; it survived in Europe until 1627....

' head of the Moldavia
Moldavia
Moldavia is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river...

n coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

, and creatures inspired by Western European mediaeval literature, such as two-tailed mermaid
Mermaid
A mermaid is a mythological aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk"...

s. The tower is decorated with sixteen tall niches, in four of which are windows. A row of small niches encircles the tower above them. The fragmented roof probably follows the shape of the original roof, which doubtless was made with shingles.

The tomb
Tomb
A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes...

 of the monastery's first abbot
Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

, Saint Daniil the Hermit
Daniil Sihastrul
Daniil Sihastrul , a saint of the Romanian Orthodox Church, was born into a peasant family at the beginning of the 15th century in a village near Rădăuţi, and baptised under the name Dumitru. He was given the name David when he entered Bogdana Monastery as a youth...

, is found at the monastery.

The church is one of the Painted churches of northern Moldavia
Painted churches of northern Moldavia
The Churches of Moldavia are eight Romanian Orthodox churches in Suceava County, Romania in northern Moldavia, built approximately between 1487 and 1583.Since 1993, they have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site...

 listed in UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

's list of World Heritage sites.

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