There was a pleasant coolness in the air that morning. The second we started to move we could feel our sleeping bags covered in dew. We unzipped them and got out very carefully so that we wouldn’t get ourselves too wet. It was the beginning of our third day on the road, visiting the famous monasteries in Bucovina, and the end of our second night sleeping under the stars.
Having piled up everything into the trunk, we left the little meadow by the Moldova River, which accommodated us for a night and passed through Gura Humorului once again. Looking in the rear view mirrors we could see the mountains of Bucovina getting farther and farther behind. But we were also getting closer to another one of our objectives.
The entrance in Suceava was plain madness. We caught a traffic jam like you wouldn’t believe. Forced by the other cars in a certain direction, we lost our way and ended up on some streets where nothing was familiar anymore. And we continued like this for a while, not able to change direction because of the insistent “herd”. And then all the cars suddenly disappeared. After wondering around for a while, we finally saw some signposts and managed to find our way towards the Dragomirna Monastery.
The road is very peaceful. It takes us alongside a lake and then we pass through a small village, Mitocul Dragomirnei, until we literally reach the end of the road. A large parking space awaits us. And it seems we’re the first guests to arrive this morning. It’s still early and I’m sure that buses filled with pilgrims will arrive later on.
We thought that Putna and Sucevița Monasteries were massive. But when looking at the 11m high walls with buttresses, defensive towers at the corners and embrasures, we could have sworn we had arrived in front of some medieval fortress. There was a lot of hammering inside and workers on the walls. It seems the whole structure is under renovation. But we don’t let this stand in our way and head toward the entrance, the bell tower. The church rises in the middle of the garden. We go round it. There’s something very strange about it. It looks oblong, like someone played with it in a photo processing program. It seems so narrow that you could hardly believe that anything could fit inside. And yet, the church is very normal on the inside, not lacking any elements. This is due to some intended mismatches in the proportions of the building. It is 42 m high, 35 m long and has less than 10 m in width.
On the place of the current monastery, a small church was consecrated back in 1602. This is about a century later than the other Bucovina Monasteries we visited. A few years later, in 1609, the present church was built and immediately became one of the most remarkable architectural creations of the Middle Ages in Romania. The defensive walls were added in 1627.
As we were walking around the garden we saw an old door in a remote corner. It was open. We stood there for a while and saw that no one was bothered by our presence. So we went in. We climbed some steep and very narrow stone stairs and…surprise! We reached the ramparts. The only light here was coming in through the embrasures. And we continued through small doors and narrow corridors toward the towers where, after another set of stairs, we arrived at the last floor, a place with an amazing 360˚ view. So this is how the monastery was protected. I’m sure it would have given a hard time to anyone who dared to intrude.
When we left Dragomirna Monastery the parking space was already beginning to fill up with buses. But our day was not finished yet. We head out a few kilometers away to a more secluded monument, Pătrăuți Church.
To be continued…