Painted Monastery Number 2
Back to Suceava
Walk around town
Monastery, churches and a piano
Looking up where to go next, and where we should have been
We had a fair walk in front of us this morning. It is almost a k into the town centre then 5km to Humor Monastery. According to the signs at least. Going out the road to the monastery we passed another sign stating that the monastery is now 6km away. Romanian distances can be subjective.
The walk was mainly through town. By now it was only one street wide, with an occasional dirt road off to different suburbs or villages. At lest it was not as humid as yesterday, and the walk was not too hot with an occasional cloud in the sky covering the sun.
On arriving at the monastery, we were amazed to see an almost carnival atmosphere. The same tourist stalls that were at Voronet, but with a lot more people. There were cars strewn everywhere, and the lines painted in the parking lot were only there for the kids to play “don’t step on the lines” rather than to organise how cars are parked.
Going up to the complex, you are greeted by a lone tower sticking up through a small screen of trees. Off to the side is a new church that we were not allowed to visit, and the living quarters of the Nuns. Then you come to the painted church itself. The small entrance way to the complex has a small stall inside where you can get your tickets and buy your blessed trinkets. The Nun running the place had been absent for a while, and was in the process of opening up again. Standing there waiting, we watched many people just walking past, but we wanted to do the right thing.
Passing through the archway, we got our first glimpse of the church. It is set up in the same style as Voronet, with a rounded end and cross shape. The roof is made of wood, and comes out a little, and the exterior decorations are almost gone. It is in a lot worse condition. Going around the outside, there were sections where you could make out the outlines of some of the pictures, and around at the entrance the best pictures are preserved. On the far wall there is nothing. Everything has deteriorated over time.
Going inside, you can see that there is a lot of work going on to preserve the pictures here. You cannot see anything as the scaffolding is getting in the way. A small break in the middle gives glimpses of what is above. The layout is again similar to Voronet, with the first chamber being mainly about saints sacrificing their lives to the Turks. Many of the paintings are about decapitation of one or two people, but there are scenes where the guy with the sword is trying to chop off as many heads with one blow as possible. The most we counted was six. Then there were scenes of people being burnt alive. Very gruesome, and very detailed. The next chamber is all about JC. It is dark and busy in there, but still beautiful.
Going back out, we did a quick trip up the tower for a look around the region. Small high narrow stairs built into the walls and plain bare rooms. On the viewing platform, the wood was a bit unsteady, but it had held for centuries so it would hold me as well. A few people were being film mad, and we could understand the double price for photos after watching one guy almost push someone down the stairs, as he wanted to film his feet going up.
The Monastery done, we started the long walk back. Trying to hitch was not as successful as yesterday as most cars passed us by. One car did stop for us, only to go screeching off again as we got closer. We think it was due to this that the car pulling out of a driveway in front of us offered us a lift. He took us all the way into town, and we got out at the main roundabout where he was picking up his wife. A very nice guy, and we tried to chat during the trip.
Back to the pension to grab our bags then to the Autogara (bus station) where the bus to Suceava was just pulling out. Luckily for us he stopped, and we were allowed on. This does not happen often for us, and usually we end up sitting around for hours waiting for the right bus! It did break down along the way, after turning on the aircon, but it was fairly quickly fixed and we made it to town without any more hiccups.
Having decided on staying at the Hostel near the autogara, as we had no working internet, we dragged our bags up to it. Anna had seen a very small old sign saying there was a pension further up the road, and went to check it out. We ended up staying there. It was a lot cheaper than the hostel, and we have our own room with ensuite.
Now it was time to check out the Suceava town. Walking down to the main square, you can tell the city is going through a bit of a rough patch. A lot of the buildings are old and run down. The shops are closed and the streets need a bit of work as well.
Town square is doing ok though. It is a nice walking street, with a few shops and cafes. Kids are going around on their bikes or Rollerblades, and people are sitting out enjoying the sun. We wandered around, through a few churches, and stumbled upon the Church of St. George in the Monastery of St John. This is the last painted monastery we had planned to see.
Going up to it, again there were all the stalls set up, and it was as busy as Humor. Going inside however, we were not prepared for the amount of people. It is a special day today, and there were hundreds of people here. A cue wound around the central courtyard of people holding branches and flowers, waiting to be blessed by a monk in a small gazebo. More stalls were set up around the walls and walkways, and people were picnicking or just sleeping on the grass.
The exterior here is even worse than Humor and almost nothing still exists, going in, there were a lot of people inside as well, but considering how many were outside, you could call it empty. This is again very dark, but there was no scaffolding so you could see the pictures. Same layout with people being massacred, the pictures of benevolence. You could see past the screen in front of the alter here to see the back room though. Honestly, its not that impressive, with more in common with a broom closet. The Alter was there with its chalices, and the monks were accepting offerings at the entrance.
Back out, we passed the police giving out free water, and past the lines of beggars to discover more of the city.
Stopping off into a few more churches before making our way back to the main square where tonight’s entertainment was just starting. The square was a lot busier now, and the central stage had a spotless white piano. The guy playing it was pretty good, so we listened to it for a bit.
Back at the pension, we are now trying to work out where to go next,but it is fairly hard to find information on what to see. It seems we could be heading back towards Brasov. We found out much to our annoyance that a few kilometres from Humor Monastery there is another old salt mine that is hand carved, without use of any machinery, but it is hard to get to without your own car, so we are skipping it, as we don’t want to backtrack. Gurrr.