Horezu Monastery is a gorgeous site, established in 1694, about half way between Curtea de Arges and Târgu Jiu. The monastery and its splendid mountain setting is one of Romania’s treasures and a top Unesco World Heritage site. Located at the end of a long, increasingly picturesque road the monastery is a ‘stern, but at the same time welcoming fortress’. It was built in a swift four years during the reign of Constantin Brâncoveanu, and is famed for its unique synthesis of Western and Oriental architectural styles. The church has an unusually large pronaos and open porch supported by ornate stone-carved columns. The church’s interior frescoes are underscored by the massive alter, carved in tea tree wood. The old rectory contains frescoes from 1705 and is only open for three holy occasions each year, though it takes very little goading for one of the sisters to open it for a sneak peak. While you’re at it, request a visit to the Princely Chapel – it’s a treasure trove of religious artifacts.
During the 17th and 18th centuries the monastery housed the country’s most prestigious fresco-painting school.
The nearby village of Horezu is a renowned for its brown pottery. Tiny shops line the roadside with merchandise laid out right on the shoulder for impulse buys. The monastery is signposted 3km east of Horezu village.
Horezu Monastery (Tel. +40 (0) 250 860 071) has 20 modern, clean rooms, available in summer only (calling ahead is requested). While this may be one of the loveliest places to sleep in all of Romania, there’s no food available, come prepared, or better yet, show up with a car so you can drive yourself into the village for meals. Alternatively, Antrec arranges rooms in nearby private homes for 10-15 euros a night.