Voronet Monastery and its unique shade of blue

The Monastery of Voronet, part of the Painted Churches of Bucovina Tour, is a medieval monastery located near Gura Humorului, Suceava County. Voronet was built in 1488, under Stephen the Great’s rule. The constructions were finished in exactly 3 month and 3 weeks and it represents a tribute to the victory of the Battle of Vaslui.

Voronet is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site, along with other painted churches in Moldavia. It is often called the “Sistine Chapel of the East”. What makes this monastery stand out from others is its exterior frescoes, painted in an unique shade of blue, today called “Voronet blue”.

Besides the huge personality of the founder, Stephen the Great, Voronet also bears the story of its first abbot, Saint Daniel the Hermit. Legend says that Stephen came to Saint Daniel to ask for advice regarding the war against the Ottomans. Saint Daniel encouraged him not to surrender. After winning the battle, Stephen built the monastery and dedicated it to Saint George.

Voronet is actually built on the foundation of a former wooden church. In 1546, it was extended by Grigore Rosca, a notable nobleman. Inside the monastery, there are the tombstones of Saint Daniel the Hermit, Grigore Rosca and other devotees of the church.

Priests and monks practiced a school of calligraphy here, and it even produced Romanian translations of the Bible.

In 1775 the monastery is deserted due to Habsburg occupation and the religious activities are resumed only in 1991. Ever since, the land of the monastery was enlarged with houses for nuns and pilgrims, a chapel, barns and fountains.

People say that Voronet and the other painted monasteries are “byzantine churches painted by gothic hands”.

The main church of Saint George at Voronet Monastery catches every tourist’s eye with the strong and well-preserved colors used on the outside frescoes. The windows and the doors are arched in a Gothic manner. Part of the untouched decorations of Voronet is still noticeable on the northern part: embossed motifs in bright colors representing the Moldavian coat of arms or creatures of medieval inspiration. The tower is adorned with sixteen niches and the same style of painting above them.

Whether it’s for the entire treasure of the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina or just for the Monastery alone, tourists should definitely visit because pictures cannot depict its true historical beauty and holy atmosphere.

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Stefania Tripe
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” ― Stephen King.

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