The Painted Monasteries


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Pilgrims and the wicked unite in their appreciation of the arresting beauty of Southern Bucovina’s painted monasteries, many of which – though not all – have the unusual distinction of being painted on the outside as well as the inside. These beauties, dating from the 15th century, are well deserving of their UNESCO World Heritage status. You can visit these babies repeatedly, stare at them for hours (as I have), and still not take in all the detail. Moldavia isn’t the first thing on a typical Romania itinerary, but it should be. I strongly encourage you to not be one of those tour zombies that does southern Transylvania and then skedaddles before seeing something really special.

While some monasteries can be accessed by public transport, and all can be visited on a private tour, clean cut hitchhiking savvy, a wad of 1 leu notes, a few cigarette donations and a little patience will get you within walking distance of the monastery of your choosing. Equally, there are several capable tour guides in the area that I can recommend.

Suceava is the best place to find a tour guide (highly recommended) for all of the monasteries. If you’re going to visit them on your own, it’s best to use Suceava or Gura Humorului as a base for Voronet, Humor, Sucevita, Moldovita and Dragomirna, though Campulung Moldovenesc will do in a pinch.

Use the approach road to Agapia Monastery (littered with guesthouses and private homes posted with cazare signs, meaning they have spare rooms to rent) as a base to visit Neamt, Agapia and Varatec or one of the hotels in nearby Târgu Neamt.

Voronet Monastery

Humor Monastery

Sucevita Monastery

Moldovita Monastery

Dragomirna Monastery

Neamt Monastery

Agapia Monastery

Varatec Monastery

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