Construction work on Sucevita Monastery began in 1585. At that time the entire area was shaken by the power struggle between the Ottomans, the Poles, and the Austrians, who fought for control over the region. This is one of the reasons why the monastery was surrounded by three-metre deep, six-metre tall fortified walls. The fortification was also meant to protect the members of the royal family, which used the monastery as a residence.
The church was built in the Moldavian style, with Gothic and Byzantine influences. The interior and exterior murals narrate the Lives of Saints – from a medieval perspective – and portray the philosophers of the Antiquity. By far the most impressive mural is the “Ladder of Virtues“. Thirty steps symbolizing thirty values to be adopted or rejected, the distance between redemption and fall.
The murals are dominated by the color green, obtained through an ancient technique from natural pigments. Today, Sucevita Monastery is one of the most visited monasteries in Bukovina. In its workshops, the nuns work on restoring old wooden icons, religious books, and embroideries, using the same methods Mediaeval craftsmen have used when they were originally made.
Sucevita Monastery is part of UNESCO World Heritage since 1993 as one of the Painted churches of Moldavia, among other 7 painted monasteries from this region.
The Legend about Sucevita Monastery
Sucevita Monastery is chronologically the last monastic ensemble among the painted monasteries in Bukovina, as it has the appearance of a real fortress, with towers, buttresses and watch roads. The legend has it that an old woman had been working there for thirty years, carrying in her ox wagon stone for the construction of the monastery. As a result, a female head is carved in black stone within the monastery’s yard.
The dominant colors of the frescoes are purple, red and blue. They appear against an emerald green background, defining as an amazing chromatic effect. Another interesting painting is the Siege of Constantinople on the south façade, reminding of the Romanians’ fights against foreign invasions, especially Turks. The painting mixes scenes of the siege of Constantinople from 1453 with others referring to a previous such attempt made by the Persians, in 626. Against an intense blue background, you can also see the Hymn to the Virgin composed by Metropolitan Sergius in thanksgiving for her intervention. The Last Judgement is also present and displays apocalyptic images of dignitaries being taken along by Satan to Hell.
From dawn till dusk.
Adults: 5 lei.
Filming fee (outside only): 10 lei.
Filming is not permitted inside the Church.