22 June 2013

Voronet Monastery
Pretty in Pink

A long walk out to Voronet Monastery today.  Also know as the Sistine Chapel of the East, as it is regarded as the most beautiful of the painted monasteries. It is about 5km from the centre of town,but we were already a fair way out, so thought it could not be more than four.
V46postfieldsWalking along the main road, we kept an eye out for a bus, but nothing came our way.
On reaching the turn off, we saw a sign saying that there was still 4km to go.  Passing fields full of hay bales, not the modern square nor round ones, but the old fashioned ones built up around a pole to hold it in place.  A perfect rural scene, except for all the power lines stretching across the horizon.  Past a small river and into Voronet town itself.

V41postvoronetThere are Cazares (rooms for rent) aplenty here, every second house seems to be one, and it is the place we had originally planned on staying.  We had been walking for a fair while now, and still hadn’t been passed by a bus yet, so we don’t know how we would have gotten here.  Finding another sign, we discovered it was still at least 2km to go.  Distances seem to be very flexible out here.  So we continued on.  The sun was out today and the steam from last nights rain made it very humid.  Not a pleasant walk, yet we made it. Although a bit sweaty..

V40postfeatureOn approach to the Monastery we ran into a gauntlet of tourist stalls.  Having not seen anything similar since Egypt, it was quite refreshing.  The attitude here was good too.  There was no coming up to harass you, or to push you into buying anything.  you could browse in peace if you wanted to.  There were all sorts of things on sale, mostly traditional clothing, with plastic toys for the kids.  Then souvenirs ranging from little cups to larger icons, and a lot of woodwork from spoons to walking sticks.

Voronet inside2Past all of this you come to the Monastery itself.  It is not anything like the Neamt Monastery, and more just a church with a few Nuns around.  A long building with a rounded clover shaped end.  Sheet metal roof supported by wood overhanging the walls by a few feet and paint splashed over the plaster work. Buying our tickets we headed in.  The first side you see is the clover end.  The paintings here get worse the lower down you go, but the ones near the top are still in pretty good condition.  As you move around to the south wall, the Voronet blue becomes apparent.  The Monastery is famous for it. V42postblue It is in excellent condition and still vivid in colour.  We have no information on the place, so all we can do is look at the pretty pictures, and this wall looks to be a collection of saints.  Knowing vaguely that there is supposed to be the genealogy of Jesus somewhere along the walls, we assume this is it.V43postpaint
Moving around to the entrance there is an amazing scene that seems to be depicting the connection between heaven and purgatory.  A long stream of red welling up from the bottom, getting narrower at the top.  Brilliant details, but we have no idea on what the elephants represent!
Voronet inside5Voronet inside6Going inside, you can see that the pictures here are a lot better preserved.  To start with it is pretty macabre. The pictures are all of people being slaughtered and tortured.  We assume this is what the saints had to put up with during all the wars between the Ottomans and the rest of Europe or Russia.  One particularly memorable detail was a person having their head sawn in half by two people.  They must not have had much contact with the Spanish, otherwise they would have known they could prolong the agony by flipping the person over!
Voronet inside7Further inside the tone calms down a lot, and the paintings are all depictions from the bible, or saints that are important to the monastery.  Stark contrast to the entrance way.  The dome is a traditional orthodox dome, and difficult to explain, but I do love the look of them.  Every inch is painted or carved and definitely worthy of the UNESCO listing.

Voronet inside4

V44postpaint2We must have spent less than an hour here, after walking for at least three! Now it was time to head back.  We could hear the thunder and the clouds were building up.  Hoping the heavens wouldn’t open up, we headed off back the way we had come.  It did start raining, and as we were so hot anyway we stopped off at a small shop to pick up a drink and wait it out.  Not too long as it turns out.  After this we decided to hitch as we thought we would be soaked if we didn’t.  This turned out to be fairly successful, and we got a car with a couple of guys to stop for us.  With only a few twinges of hesitation (thank you Tanzania) we jumped in.

V47postchurchThey were pretty nice guys, and instead of dropping us off at the pension, drove us into town and took us to the local fresh produce market.  Explaining how all the local farmers sold their wares here.  The quality as we had noticed before is much better than in the supermarkets.

V48postchurchinsideMaking our way back we stopped into the church in town.  Although it is not painted on the outside, it is still an amazing building.  Going inside it is stunning.  All pink and pastels.  It is not dark and dingy at all, but airy and open contrasting strongly with what we had seen this morning or in most Orthodox churches.  Soft chanting coming from hidden speakers giving a mystic feel to the place.  While it is still over the top, it is done in a very good way, and possibly one of the best churches we had been in, even if it is not as traditional as others.V45postchurchinside2

Back at the pension, the rain started in earnest, and our only problem was that the promised internet still was not working.  Oh well, crappy TV it is for now!



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