Cozia Monastery is an eastern orthodox monastery located in Calimanesti, Valcea county, Romania. As the best example of Byzantine architecture in Romania, it is one of the most valuable monuments of national importance in the country.
The monastery was founded by Mircea the Elder during 1386-1388 and is currently housing his tomb. Although most rulers of Wallachia were buried at Curtea de Arges Monastery, Mircea was the only one that did not comply and insisted on being buried at Cozia.
The name of Cozia derives both from Cuman and Turkish origin. It literally means ‘walnut grove’. Important rulers of Wallachia left their mark upon this site through restoration and added elements.
With the passing of time, the church of the monastery, named ‘The Holy Trinity’ has suffered appearance modifications under the leadership of Neagoe Basarab in 1517, Serban Cantacuzino and Constantin Brancoveanu 1707. Its original style was therefore updated to the ‘brancoveanu style’.
Of main importance are also the frescoes of Cozia. The church was painted during 1390-1391. On the western wall of the complex you can still find original paintings representing Mircea the Elder and his son Mihail. To this day, only a few original elements survived from the times of Mircea the Elder: two bells, the cross pattern of the monastery’s tower, and a small piece of the ruler’s tomb, which was profaned many times along history. The monastery’s grounds are enframed by thick stone walls, with a defense tower in each corner. There was actually another church that bore the name of Cozia, which was destroyed. The remaining of old “Cozia” are actually situated 1 km away from the existing monastery and it is thought that Radu, Mircea’s father, built it at the end of the 13th century.
The communist regime left its mark on the historical site. Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu had their portraits in the museum of the monastery for quite some time, alongside other representations of big historical figures of Romania. This museum also holds valuable religious and holy objects.
Tourists can find the religious assembly on the right bank of the Olt River, 20 kilometers away from Ramnicu-Valcea, the capital city of the county.
The Olt River in the back of the monastery and the breathtaking mountain backgrounds complete the tranquil scenery.
With history, religion and nature combined, the monastery of Cozia, along with the church within, is apparently the most visited religious site in Romania.