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ROMANIA. Moldovia – the north eastern province of Romania – is renowned for the " Painted " Monasteries of Bucovina. These triumphs of Byzantine influenced art reflect the flowering of Moldavian civilisation in the 15th and 16th centuries. ROMANIA. AND. NEAMT DISTRICT.

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Moldovia – the north eastern province of Romania – is renowned for the " Painted " Monasteries of Bucovina. These triumphs of Byzantine influenced art reflect the flowering of Moldavian civilisation in the 15th and 16th centuries.






Humor, founded in 1530, is quite small. Its paintings include ilustrations of "Siege of Constantinople", which shows the feelings of the Romanians towards the invading Turks. On other walls there are the "Return of the Prodigal Son" and the "Devil amusingly", depicted as a greedy woman.

Voronet, nicknamed the "Sixtine Chapel of the East" was built by Stephen the Great in 1488 and the vibrant colors of its frescoes were added later. An interesting point is that  the archangels’ trumpets take the shape of the local shepherds’ horn or "bucium" and the souls doomed to hellfire wear the turbans of the Turkish enemy.

The Sucevita Monastery compound is fortified like a citadel with guard towers on its four corners. Thousands of pictures decorate the church’s walls. We recomand you to look for the complex "Joshua’s Tree" on the southern wall.

Bucovina also means the famous painted churches. Over five centuries have passed since their building, and the visitors from all over the world do not stop wondering about the endurance of the colors and of the splendid dinamic of the frescoes compositions, which have preserved their freshness irrespective of the winds, rains, scorchers, frosts and other hardships passing over them.

The " Painted " Monasteries are the major Moldavian destination, due to their vivid and animated frescoes on their church walls. Painted  Biblical scenes and other scenes are designed in sequences almost like strip cartoons in order to educate the local people in the Orthodox religion.


       Striking red, blue, yellow and brown colors characterise the Biblical scenes depicted around the Moldovita church. Inside the 16th century furniture survives, including Prince Petru Rares’chair, as large as a throne. Because the Prince is the founder of Moldovita his statue stands outside.

       Arbore Monasterywas not built by a Prince that why it is quite small, it lacks  the high cupola that distinguishes most monastery churches.. Its paintins utilise several shades of green. We recomand you to look for the scenes from "Genesis" along the western wall, since they are particularly lively and graceful.

The front sides of the Agapia monastery are covered outside with paintings of neoclassical inspiration. Inside, the church (including the catapetasma) was painted in 1860 by Nicolae Grigorescu, the foremost artist of the day. His paintings have a vividness of an invaluable artistic value.





Neamt District

The Neamt county with a population of 583,686 inhabitants is situated in the North-East of the central part of Romania. Administratively this county has two municipalities (Piatra Neamt, the capital city, and Roman), two towns (Targu Neamt and Bicaz), 70 communes and 347 villages. With altitudes going down from West to East, the relief consists in mountains, Sub-Carpathian hills, plateau, the Valleys of the Siret and Moldavia Rivers.

The mountains cover 51 per cent of the surface of this county. The Ceahlau Massif is the most impressive one in whole Moldavia. The relief and climate determine a variety of flora and fauna. The Ceahlau national park with a surface of 5,200 ha, the Gosman forest reservation with beech and coniferous trees which are 120-250 years old, as well as the two reservations situated between Agapia and Varatec which are named "Copper Forests" and "Silver Forest" by Romanian national poet Mihai Eminescu, being fairy-like places for visitors. At 1,800 m above sea level there is larch tree - the only coniferous tree with falling leaves in Romania. Valuable historic and art monuments, over 40 in number, are: Neamt Fortress; Agapia Monastery with its paintings of Nicolae Grigorescu; Durau Monastery - painted by Nicolae Tonitza; Neamt, Secu, Varatec Monasteries, and episcopal Church built by ruler Petru Rares. At the Secu, Neamt, and Agapia Monasteries there were real copying schools of the Romanian liturgical manuscripts.


The Agapia Monastery is known thanks to its carpet and embroidery workshops. At only 10 km far from Piatra Neamt, there is the Bistrita Monastery, built by ruler Alexandru cel Bun, a cultural and historic place where he is buried. At Pangarati there is a remarkable monument built in 1560 by ruler Alexandru Lapusneanu and which is a two storied church. Also there are "Ion Creanga" memorial house in Humulesti, "Mihail Sadoveanu" memorial house in Vanatori, "Alexandru Vlahuta" one in Agapia, "Calistrat Hogas" and "Veronica Micle" ones in Targu Neamt. The travelers in this county have accommodation facilities in 38 places of which 13 are hotels. His tourist landscape is completed by the Durau Spa and the famous "Hanul Anculei" (Anculas Inn).




Piatra Neamt, yesterday, today and tomorrow

In a cloud of dust, on the pavement full of bumps, on which the dirty pools formed immemorial times reflect the Pietricica peak, on the “narrow street”, a man strives to put straight a wheel of his cart, getting in the way of three second-hand clothes merchants and a bus. The traffic jam is an image from my childhood; an image turned into a picture that today represents one of the most modern mountain-cities in Romania.

Imagine a wonderful painting in which, from a sea of still waves under the reddish sun of dawn, a beautiful country emerges. In the middle of it, among the mountain peaks surrounded by high mists, you can see, trembling in the morning rays, a setting with buildings of different sizes, and if you took the time to look through binoculars, you would see thousands of eyes looking out of the window at you.

The roads, the highway, small houses, big buildings, villas, shops, factories, parks, green grass, statues and, everywhere, people…

I wonder what it will become in the next two, three or even ten years…

(In Romanian by Iulia Hasdeu)


·Main town in Neamt county, with a population of 126,000 people·“Town’s Anniversary” is on 24th of June – the birth of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Piatra Neamt·international relationships: - brotherhood with the cities Roanne (France), Orhei (Moldova Replubic), Kiriat-Malachi and Lod (Israel), Hliboca (Ukraine), Alpharetta (USA), Beinasco ( Italy), Manilva (Sapin) – collaboration with the Danish Agency for the Protection of the Enviroment about the fulfilling ecological projects

About Piatra Neamt


Petru I Musat began to develop the site for a masonry church in the 14th century. It was completed for Alexandru cel Bun in 1407. Petru Rares rebuilt the church between 1541-1546, as did Alexandru Lapusneanu in 1554. The monastery museum is a monument in itself; it was commissioned by the Craiovesti brothers and was raised between 1491-1494

Between faith and culture which ennoble the past of this country, the monastery of Bistrita has a special place, being one of the oldest foundations and sheltering royal bones and unforgetable deeds from the history and from the spiritual life of our people.

Situated approximately, at 8 km from the vest limit of thr town Piatra Neamt, the monastery of Bistrita had lasted for more than six centuries, sheltered by the woods which surround it, facing like all our monasteries the terrible hardships of the history.

According to the tradition, the beginnings of the monastic community would be during the reign of Peter the 1st Musat, at the end of the XIVth century, when here was raised a little wooden church, with the efforts of the monk Pafnutie. On the place of this church, having more than 30 meters length, with a pronoas, burial vault, nave and altar being grove for him and his family.


= The History of Monastery =

The foundation act of Alexander the Good was by no means accidentally, being one of the manuy ways in which he treid to consolidate the orthodox church in order to change it into a support pillar of the young independ feudal fortress. The fact that the monastery was important to the religious and institutional system of the Alexander the Good , roves also the act from the 7th of January 1407 written by the metropolitan bishop Iosif Musat with the prince`s approval act that gives to this monastery the same reghts as the Monastery of Neamt – being esthablished a the same ruler in the person of the priest chir Domentian:

 “ The hally beshop chir Iosif of Moldavia, with the Lord`s good will and of His Mother and of His tholly Raising, to Alexander Voda the lord of the Moldova country, I gave this chuch first to chir Domentian, also the monastery of Uspenia of the Mother of Gad from Bistrita, so that they are unsearated, because they belowg to my “.


During several years, the founder endows the monastery with villages and lands, ensuring also other incomes.

We mention only that the monastery receives 2 villages and the church from Bohotin, together with 10 casks of wine, wheat and cloth from Cehia, every year. If we also add the customs from Barlad und Tazlau, and during Ilie Voda, the custom house from Bacau, we can have a larger image about the economical force which the monastery had reached during 3 decades.

  In 1418 Lady Ana was laid in the grave from the burial vault of the church at 1st January 1432, Alexander the Good was also brought here in the grave which had before been prepaired, finishing in this way a long and tich reign, serving to the consolidation of the feudal state and to its most important institutions.

At the end of the century, in 1498, Stefan the Great, engraved his name among the founders of from Bistrita, building a gorgeous steeple and chapel.

“ I, the faithful and Christ loving stefan with God`s Mercy, Ruler of Moldavia, the san of Bogdan built this steeple, I lay in it in the Name of the Holly Martyr Ioan the New from Cetatea Alba, for his pray and for the pray of his lady, Maria, and of they children, in the year 7006 (1498), and in the same year I finished them, in the month of September the 13 ”.


Besides Slatina, Bistrita church is the greatest and imposing foundation of Alexandru Lapusneanul. As plan and size it comes very much near Petru Rares’s Probota, leaving between nove and pronove the pit room and a single steeple over the main room. The lateral rooms as the one of the altar has polygonal form, with five and nine sides, covered with long fibres. One pair of strong, powerful towers uphold the corners of the western side, the transversal arch of the pronave and the left and the right segments of the room, just one tower being in the altar axle.

Two series of mines in which it was recently discovered original frescos from the sixteenth century mitigates the monotony of the white sides. Also, recently, it was discovered, on the western wall, the beginning icon of the feast day.(“The Sleeping of the God’s Mum”) which was in a good, preserved state. The greatness and elegance feeling that this edifice gives you, are completed by the octogonal steeple which leans on three superposed bases as stars and smartened up with series of mines and long fibres with double arch. The same effect is obtained through the drawings from the windows in pronave and from the porche which kept their initial form: long profile, tall, the light field divided through a middle line, the cardrums with brauched out profiles, disposed after the specific of the late gotic.

The porche has two doors on the north and on the south, sorrounded by identical borders with cruslud arch forms, like an acolade bearly pronounced.The entrance is the southern one above which is placed the Feudal Moldovian coat of arms and the moldovian system, with two sferical rounds leaned on arches in cousole and different arches with pendentives. Besides the northern wall is placed the grave of Bishop Atanasie who died at 13th of July 1632 in the same room being buried Bishops Metodie and Simeon, died before Bishop Atanasie, in 1504 and 1564.

The great main entrance at the beginning of the pronave is almost the same with the one at the entrance from the “Saint John” Church from Piatra Neamt: a successive of profiles emerged from bases well painted which cut themselves in arches, the surface of the cardrum being covered with gotic lobes disposed in clubs or in rossette. We see the same rounds in the vault system of the pronave, except for their leaning where there are used superposed arches, and the rounds are separated with a transversal arch from tetheall upholded of two stone pillars.


On the south-east, there is Ivascu Golescu’s grave, great bome minister of the Romanian Country, the cliemant of Petru Carcel’s throne, died in wandering at 20th of December 1584 while he was coming from Moldavia at the calling of Petru Schiopul. At the north- east, there is Grigore Ureche’s grave which was prepared for his father Nestor Ureche, with the inscription: “This grave was prepared and done from the order of Ureche Nestor, the great bome minister of Down Country”.As Nestor Ureche was buried in his building from Secu and while Grigore Ureche used for his chronicle-“Pomelnicul” and “Letopisetul” written at Bistrita, is supposed that the bones pulled out here in 1932 represent the human remaines of our great chronicler, buried in1647.

The passing door from the graves room has a simple stone border whithout painted bases, enriched with just two wands from which open secondary branches at the corners. The mine, rounded with a transversal cylinder, shelters the most important graves, forming the royal building. In a northern side, under a stone very well worked, there is the grave of Madam Ana (Neacsa), the first wife of Alexandru the Good, grave cared by Stefan the Great, after the inscription on the funeral stone.

“Me Stefan the Lord, with the mercy of the God Lord of the Moldavian Country, the son of Bogdan Hospodar, I embellished the grave of Madam Ana , the lady of Alexandru Hospodar, the mother of Ilie Hospodar, who died in 6926 (1418), month-november, 2, in time of Grigore the Oriest.”

Maybe Stefan the Great used the same way to take care of Alexandru the Good’s grave placed near his wife’s , found in 1932. Unfortunately, the grave was ruined by the diggings in the times of Alexandru Lapusneanu or afterwords, being found just remains from the mantie and the coffin of the Lord.

Outwardly of these graves , the princely place from Bistrita also includes- on its east side – the grave of Alexandrel, the first of Stefan the Great sons, buried here in 1494 and the stone well adormed of Madam Maria, the wife of Stefan Lacusta, who died at 31st of July 1542. It is also remembered being found from archaeological researces a grave .


In 1924 some paintings were discovered, but just the 1975 restoration brought to light a great fresco from the beginning of the sixteenth century, with great artistic-documentary qualites.

Turning to the best account of the limited areas, it was done an unity of the frescos fully adopted at the existing area, the whole paper impressing by its whole unit and by the personality of every scene or character.The solemn colors and well harminied on a profound blue fund, the choice and separation of the scenes, the features full of movement of the angels and, besides all, the expression of the saitiness on the gentle and enlightement faces of the Holy Parents, place the painting of the chapel from the Bistrita Monastery in the middle of the greatest iconographic ensemble from our country.

Remarcable for artistic and great documentary value are the eight paintings from the north and south walls, which represent the most important moments from life, suffering and martyrising of Saint Martyr The New John from Suceava. The same interest present the original painting from the western wall, reason for which Petru Rares draw another painting kept till today, well preserved, on the southern side of the belfry, on the outside.

The next building near the belfry presents obvious resemblances with the ones from Moldovita, Slatina and especially Probota. The opening which assures the connection between the chapel from the tower and the floor of the anvex was successfuly extended, reaching today the form of on arch which lies on a big port of the surface of the last dividing wall.


A problem long debated in the history of Bistrita Monastery was the one of the princely houses built here along the centuries, but it seems that the archaeological researches from the 70’s done here by Adrian and Lia Batrana, succeeded in making light in this important field. It was established that a first hospodar residence of small sizes(9x14cm) was built here by Alexandru the Good, maybe in 1402, when he built the big church of the monastery. Junging from the vestiges discovered at the ground floor of the edifice, we can say that it was a three-floored construction with the inside covered with frescos of a great artistic toste and which authors could have been the same as "Nichita and Dobre” who adorned the first stone church from Bistrita.

Near the first hospodar residence, Alexandru the Great built a new lord house with big sizes (9x25cm), with floor and two big cellars. It was supposed that this edifice was built at the end of the rule of the hospodar (1432), who never got the time to realise new inside paintings. This thing will be achieved by Petru Rares who, on his second rule , restored the residence of his grandfather and he covers the walls with a beautiful painting. Unfortunately, the repaires from 1792 and the ones which followed leaded to the sacrifice of big portions of paintings and to the changing of the face of the edifice. Only from the working started in 1976, the princely house from Bistrita will regain its initial look and its original inside reparation, entering through the most representative and well preserved monuments of this kind.

On this archaeological researches, there were found, in the north-western corner of this site, almost near to the belfry, the ruins of a stone building with sizes of 12x15cm. It was considered that this was the new princely house built by Stefan the Great in 1498, when he has also built the belfry-tower, this residence functioned in paralel with the one of Alexandru the Good. What determined Stefan the Great to built this construction is hard to explain. It was affected the old princely house during Mahomed II campaign from the summer of 1476 and the brave lord prefered to raise a new construction.


Neamt Monastery is Romania's largest and oldest monastery. In the fortified compound are a medieval art museum and a memorial house to novelist Mihail Sadoveanu (1880-1961). Neamt Monastery is a very important spiritual centre. Gavriil Uric founded here in the 16th century a school of calligraphers and miniature paintings. Paisie Velicikovschi (Sf. Paisie de la Neamt), one of the greatest abbots of Romania, came to Moldavia in 1763 and settled here


Surrounded by old forests, at the foot of the mountains, rises the oldest monastery in Moldavia - Neamt Monastery. Founded in the 14th century, Neamt monastery witnessed many historical events of the nation. Jewel of 15th century architecture, the church was built by Stefan cel Mare and finished in the year when the Moldavian army won the battle against King Ioan Albert (1497).

Sumptuous, with delicate colour effects, the monastery shows the maturity of the Moldavian architectonic style, which matured during Stefan cel Mare's period. The façade of the church is covered with the decoration characteristic of Stefan cel Mare's time: Gothic windows and friezes with enamelled disks, coloured in greeen, yellow and brown.

In the chamber of the tombs, which appear for the first time at this church, is the tomb of Stefan al II-lea, son of Alexandru cel Bun and uncle of Stefan cel Mare.

The art treasures kept at Neamt Monastery are proof of the intense artistic and cultural activity which took place here through the centuries. Here Gavril Uric showed his talent, the most important representative of the Moldavian miniature from the 15th century. His first known manuscript, dated 1429, is kept in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (UK). The calligraphers and miniaturists of Stefan cel Mare who worked at this important center made many of the books given to Putna Monastery. In the cells of the monastery, the chronicler Macarie wrote the chronicle of Petru Rare's rule, and Eftimie the chronicle of Alexandru Lapusneanu's rule.

The learned tradition of the Neamt Monastery disappeared in the 17th and 18th centuries, to be reborn at the begining of next century, when Metropolitan Veniamin Costachi established a printing house here. In the monastery museum is the old printing press, which was used to print books since 1807. In the monastery is a famous library more than 600 years old. Among the almost 11,000 volumes

are many rare books, some being the first ones printed in this country.


Neamt Fortress

Even though it was once attributed to the Teutonic Knights, in reality this "eagle's nest" was built by Petru Ist Musatinul (1374-1391). It originally had a square plan and the first walls were 12 m high. Stephen the Great (1457-1501) enlarged the fortress, adding another precinct with four circular towers for artillery, and raised the sheer walls to 20 m. He also had dug a defensive ditch which was 10 m deep and 25 m wide. After this the fortress became virtually invincible. In 1476 the fortress also held against the army of 200,000 which Mahomed IInd sent into Moldavia after conquering Constantinople 23 years earlier. In 1650, during the Tartar invasion, Vasile Voda's family sheltered here. In 1691 the fortress was besieged by Jan Sobieski, King of Poland, and at last the fortress gave way.


“Curtea Domneasca” Church

is the administrative centre of Neamt county

It was initially called "Piatra lui Craciun" ("Craciun's stone") but its founder is not mentioned in old documents. Stephen the Great built a royal court here before 149; it probably stood on the site of an older one. Archaeologists excavating the ruins have found arcades, staircases, and door and window frames belonging to Stephen's court. Most of the items discovered during the digs have been given to the County History Museum.


The Tower Bell

The monastery was a great intellectual and cultural centre. The monk Gavril Uric ran a school of miniature painting and a calligraphy school at Neamt which created superb illuminated manuscripts. One of its most famous products was a parchment copy of The Four Gospels from 1429; this is now at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The monastery library has over 11,000 volumes, including 594 manuscripts in Romanian, Slavonic and Greek. The monastery owns a 600-year-old icon of The Virgin Mary which is thought to have miraculous powers. The icon is never taken out of the church but thousands of pilgrims come to worship it each year. The museum of the monastery is contained in three spacious rooms.

The bell tower which forms entrance to monastery courtyard was partly built by Alexandru cel Bun (1400-1432). On the ceiling you can still see parts of an old painting representing scenes from the story of Varlaam and Ioasaf. It was built by Stephen the Great in 1497. Although the church has an ungainly extension at the west end, it is the most interesting of Stephen's architectural monuments because of its plan which contains a tomb chamber, its interior structure and the decoration of the facades. The naos and the tomb chamber were painted in fresco during the reign of Stephen the Great or his son Bogdan III.