On our second day visiting the famous monasteries of Bucovina, we got closer and closer to the northern border of Romania. It was time to head back to Gura Humorului and the mountainous area which was guarding even more wonders.
We were standing in front of a small wooden tower which seemed to be guarding some medieval citadel. It served as the bell tower. We pay the entrance fee and step inside the spacious yard of the Humor Monastery. Stone paved paths lead us along colorful roses toward the old church. It feels warm and welcoming. With no bell tower and a traditional shingle roof, the edifice is covered in paintings dominated by various shades of red. In 1530 the great chancellor Toader Logofăt began building this sanctuary about 500 m away from the ruins of an older church. In 1535 he brought the finest painters to cover the new church. As usual, the northern wall is washed away, but the other sides still keep the oldest outdoor painted frescoes in Bucovina. The western side, where we also find the entrance, shows the Doomsday in a wonderful game of lights created by the columns and arcades. The southern wall is a valuable masterpiece adorned with numerous religious scenes, the Siege of Constantinople, legends and objects once used in the traditional houses of Bucovina. Along with the Sucevița, Moldovița, Voroneț and Arbore Monasteries, the byzantine frescoes here are unique in the orthodox world.
There’s a continuous bustle around the yard. Tourists are anxious to see everything the monastery has to offer while nuns are in a hurry to fulfill their daily duties. Roses, bushes and other flowers are interrupted by ruins. When Toader Logofăt began constructions on his monastery, he also built cells and defensive walls. In the 18th century the sanctuary was abandoned and the cells were destroyed. What we see today, as we walk down the waving paths, are the remains of the old religious life in these parts. It was only in 1991 that nuns finally returned to Humor Monastery.
Probably the best touristic attraction that this monastery has to offer is the Tower of Vasile Lupu, built in 1641 by the ruler of Moldova, along with some stone walls meant to protect the insides. The walls are now ruined, but the three stories tower is still standing today. On the exterior, some frail wooden stairs go up to the entrance on the first floor. In case of an attack, the people living at the monastery would take refuge in these rooms and destroy the ladder so that the enemy could not reach them. We begin our ascent on narrow and steep stone stairs, built inside the walls. We reach another room and the stairs get steeper. Light comes into the chambers through small holes in the walls. In no time we find ourselves on the last floor, another large room with two exits toward a balcony surrounding the building. We could see the entire valley from here, the nuns’ new cells, Gura Humorului and of course the church and bell tower underneath.
Before leaving we relaxed our minds and gathered our thoughts on one of the benches, watching the nuns in their “organized” fuzz.