Bucovina painted monasteries
The "painted" monasteries are the major Moldavian attraction, because of the vivid frescoes on their churches.
These depict Biblical and other scenes, designed in sequences almost like strip cartoons to excite the imagination of the local people and so educate them in the Orthodox religion.
The churches stand in the center of monastery compounds and all have high pitched roofs and dim interiors - take a torch with you.
(Romanian National Tourist Office: Moldavia/Bucovina)
In the 15th century, when they decided to have those churches painted, the stone walls had to undergo special lime coating preparations.
The lime and the minerals was carefully prepared next to the working site, over pits filled with burning wood or the achievement of one single painting there had to be prepared 10 tons of lime.
For almost 5 centuries, the exterior frescoes of Bucovina have had to fight the wind and the rain. As if they were protected by Gods, nowadays those treasures still surprise and offer joy to their visitors, by their simplicity and efficiency.
Each painted character seems to be staring at you, as if in an attempt to hypnotize. There was an iconic art, with a prevailing didactic objective, in which facts had to be presented in a precise manner, accessible to everyone, thus stimulating human mind.
One may wonder why such paintings should have been on the exterior walls.
The reason is a very simple one: these little churches, designed for local communities, could not accommodate all the Christians who would pray there; besides, most of them were illiterate.
The decision to have the exterior walls painted aimed at presenting the events of the Orthodox calendar. The whole Bible is displayed on the walls of Voronet, Sucevita, Moldavita, Humor, Arbore and other monasteries.
Should you go, by any chance, to Bucovina, take time to discover those treasures and try to admire them as if you were watching a performance.
Those paintings have survived through centuries, waiting for you to see.
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