Has it ever happened to you to arrive in places where you did not want to go, but once there to discover fairytale destinations? It happened to me 3 times until now: at Amboise (France), Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic) and Dragomirna (Romania). About the last one, but the closest to my heart, I will write you about today.
On May we (me- Ana, Alex and Alexia) were in Bucovina and we were thinking what to do the next day. We have just returned from the famous Moldavian monasteries Moldovita, Sucevita and Putna. When Mr. Stefan, the owner of the guesthouse we was staying at told me: if you want to see something really special, go to Dragomirna. I was in doubt whether to travel 100km to monastery which, come on -how different could it have been compared to the wonders I just had seen? Or would it have been better to go to Neamt where we could have found many more attractions. Alex promised me to have a weekened at Piatra Neamt in near future so we decided to go to Dragomirna (and also visit Suceava) which was very close. Half-convinced I said “Ok. Lets’s go!”
And here we are arriving at Dragomirna…. and discovering something completely different than anything we’ve seen before. Should it be a fortress, a citadel or a monastery? Whatever it was, it was wow. Mr. Stefan was totally right … But let me tell you the whole story…
Dragomirna Monastery is a fortified monastery complex built in the period 1602-1609 in Mitocu Dragomirnei village, about 12 km from Suceava.
The church is unique in Romania for its unusual proportions. The height is more than 40 meters and this makes it look very tight. Its walls are not painted in exterior as in Sucevita, but they are decorated with beautiful stone carvings. Inside, the church is only half painted, but as it was it was amazing. You can see from the photos taken from the monastery website, because indoor photography is prohibited. Puzzled by the incomplete painting, I asked a nun who was very kind and explained us that it was unclear if the rest of the church was ever painted or painting would have been lost after the destruction made by Tatars.
The monastery is surrounded by high stone walls similar to those of Sucevita. In 1627, in order to defend in front of the Tartar and Turkish invasions, it was decided to build defense walls that give today the appearance of a fortress monastery.
For those who are fans of old manuscripts, there is a museum that can be visited. On the exit way, you will find besides the religious souvenirs, a small shop where you can buy different types of honey, creams and oils. Everything is made by nuns. I bought a jar of honey for Alexia, a hand cream for mommy and a small bottle of holly oil that is always in our car. I also received a small icon that I always have it in my wallet.
As I go out of the shop, I see Alex, my husband watching a group of children coming to visit the monastery on one day school trip. He asks me to wait a little while. And I see a poorly dressed little girl in the group, slightly higher than our Alexia who comes to thank him with an icon in her arms. I ask him “What happened?” And he answers me, “I saw her standing aside while the other children went to buy some souvenir from the church shop. Judging from the over worn coat, 2 sizes bigger and probably left over from older sisters, I don’t think her parents managed to give her any spare money for this trip. So I gave her teacher 10 lei for the girl to buy a reminder of Dragomirna Monastery.”
Dragomirna is unique and does not resemble any other monasteries in Romania. It’s the most beautiful I have seen so far and believe me I have seen many before. It’s just as dear to me as it is Sapanta-Peri in Maramures where some years ago I got engaged the best guy in the world – Alex. But this is a story, that I will tell you some other time.
Anyway, if you are lucky to go to Bucovina, don’t miss out Dragomirna Monastery. You’ll thank me later!