Bucovina, a region of northern Moldavia, is all about traditions preserved for centuries, hospitality and wonderful landscapes, but the one thing that really remains in the heart and mind of the tourists are the unique churches, for the beauty of their interior and exterior paintings.
With a specific architecture, displaying wonderful frescoes inspired by Byzantine art, the churches and monasteries here have always been a major attraction for tourists everywhere.
The churches were built during the medieval period, between the end of the 15th century and the middle of the 16th century. The paintings re-interpret original full-length scenes from the Bible, respecting the Orthodox canons, but from the specific angle of the painters. Murals cover the exterior and interior walls.
The colors and shades of the frescoes are the ones that impressed the specialists, being characteristic of each church, and so one can talk about the specific blue of Voroneţ, but also the red-green of Sucevita, the Moldovița yellow, the red of Humor or the Arbore green.
Of the dozens of churches and medieval monasteries that you will find throughout Bukovina, eight have really astonishing exterior frescoes and have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. These are:
- Church of Arbore. It is an Orthodox church dedicated to the "Cutting of the Head of St. John the Baptist" which was built in 1502 by the hatman Luca Arbore during the reign of Stephen the Great.
- The Church of the Humor Monastery built in 1530 by the great Archbishop Toader Bubuiog during the reign of Petru Rareș. It is an Orthodox church with the patrons "Assumption of the Virgin" and "St. George".
- The Church of the Moldovița Monastery "Buna Vestire" was founded by Prince Petru Rareș in 1532.
- The Church of Pătrăuţi having the patronage "The Raise of the Holy Cross", founded in 1487 by Stephen the Great, Lord of Moldavia.
- The Church of Probota Monastery, built by Prince Petre Rareș in 1530. The church's saint day is "St. Nicholas". The monastery also played the role of a burial place for the rulers of Moldavia, including the tombs of the princes Petru Rareş and Ştefan Rareş, Elena Rareş and other members of the reigning family of Moldavia.
- The Church of ”Saint John the New” Monastery in Suceava. The church was begun in 1514 by Lord Bogdan III of Moldavia and finished in 1522 during the reign of Ştefăniță Vodă. It had the role of a metropolitan church between 1522 and 1677. The church has the patrons "Saint George" and "Saint John the New ".
- The Church of the Sucevița Monastery, dedicated to the "Resurrection of the Lord", was built between 1583 and 1586 by the Movileşti boyars' family during the reign of Petru Şchiopul.
- The Church of the Voroneţ Monastery, also called the "Sistine Chapel of the East", was founded by Stephen the Great, built in 1488 in only 3 months and 3 weeks. The church is dedicated to ”St. George”.
In 1993, UNESCO included the eight Orthodox churches on the World Heritage List, under the name "Painted Churches in Northern Moldavia".
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