I boarded Lufthansa Airlines from LAX with a certain giddiness and
anticipation. I was ready for a long flight over the USA, Canada, Iceland, the
Northern Sea and Germany – with my final destination being Bucharest (or
Bucuresti), the capital of Romania.
Romania’s southeastern European location holds thousands of years of history,
culture and tradition. I had to decide where my visit would take me this time:
the Black Sea and its luxury resorts, the beautiful Carpathian Mountains with
cozy cottages and hotels, a cruise along the Danube River and the Danube Delta,
Transylvania and its relentless Dracula and his castle, the cultural life of the
major cities, or the Eastern Orthodox monasteries of Moldavia.
I chose a spiritual journey to the ancient Moldavian monasteries: Arbore
Monastery (built in 1503), Humor (1530), Moldovita (1532), Patrauti Monastery
(1487), Suceava (1522), Voronet (1487) and Sucevita (1583). Each monastery has
its own personality and architectural style. Outdoor and indoor frescoes
depicting religious scenes fascinate the eyes and minds of tourists.
Each monastery represents another page of the Romanian history. Each
monastery was built at the order of a different ruler or Prince. One needs to
spend hours to “absorb” all the information on each monastery and step into the
past through the tangible and visual artifacts exhibited there. One will be
amazed by the bravery, culture, religion, traditions of the Romanian people.
Each monastery has its own style and uniqueness. If I were to chose one
of them it would be Voronet Monastery. It is one of the most important
establishments of Stephen The Great. The church (1487) was built in less than
four and a half months which is a record for those times. This monastery was
named “The Sistine Chapel of the Northern Romania.” Its uniqueness is
represented by the enigmatic “ Voronet Blue” (as famous as the “ Tizian’s Red “
or “ Veronese Green”) . The amazingly freshness of this color is hidden in a
secret formula that cannot be replicated. One can feel the artistic sensitivity
of the souls of the long time departed painters and their love and respect for
Nature and its shades.
Entering the church, you’re inclined to approach solemnly and humbly. Passing
two separate stands that hold hundreds of thin yellow candles lit for the souls
of the departed, you head slowly towards the altar, mesmerized by
Byzantine-influenced icons and priests in holy attire.
Later in the journey, I had the unique experience of dining with the nuns at
a long wooden table – so long it felt like one could unroll a scroll of the
entire history of Christian religion. As I ate the meal the nuns cooked, I
peeked a little at their faces: so much peace and purity of the soul…so much
resembling the icons with no lines of worries…as if time had stopped