Aug 26

Voronet Monastery: Romania’s Sistine Chapel



Romania is a land of beautiful natural wonders, ancient forests and silent mountains. It is no wonder then that in such a wild and rugged landscape there have been preserved expressions of mystic and religious achievement. Many perhaps may have seen a travel photo here or there of a remote Romanian monastery, but the most famed of them all is Voronet.


Called “The Sistine Chapel of the East” this nearly 600 year old church is covered in every inch with fascinating depictions of religious and spiritual events and encounters. The colors seem as vibrant and the stories as vivid today as when they were first painted. Particularly noteworthy is the stunning blue color used which is famously known as Voronet Blue. The frescoes are depictions from the bible mostly and many other saints, prophets angels and demons. The Tree of Jesus fresco is perhaps one of the most unique in art as it traces the spiritual and ideological roots of Christ from his ancestors and the founders of Western civilization.


The Monastery makes up part of a larger network of holy sites in Northeastern Romania called the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. The closest city to the site is Suceava and the nearest bus and train terminal to the monastery is Gura Humorului which is about three miles away. There are buses on weekdays from Gura Humorului to Voroneţ, departing at 7am, 12.30pm and 2.45pm. An equally lovely option is to walk the 4km along a narrow village road to Voroneţ. The route is clearly marked and it’s impossible to get lost.


This is probably the best option if one is staying in Suceava, which is really the best place logistically, it has a concentration of basic three star hotels, several hostels and restaurants and grocery stores. In reality a great trip to this region would include a car rental. The highways in Romania are good, the rentals are affordable from the airports and the countryside is heavenly between the various painted monasteries of this region.


Here on can take in some of the most unique Byzantine art in all of Eastern Europe. There are monasteries in Humor, Moldovita, Patrauti and Probota as well. Totaled there are seven UNESCO world heritage churches in this region. For anyone who has been to Romania there is an ethereal charm and scenic beauty to its centuries of traditions. Voronet may seem a bit off the beaten path, but it is a once in a lifetime attraction that is sure to fascinate and captivate the adventurer and cultured traveler all at once.



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