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The Putna Monastery & my attempt to remember history

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Romania as a country started to exist in 1918. This year we celebrate the centenary of the Great Union. Reading about the centenary got me thinking about the Romanian history and our great rulers, especially Stephan the Great. In this story, I will present you the Putna Monastery, built by him, and one monument on the northern border of Romania. This story is also my attempt to remember history.

First, let's do a little recap. Similar to many other countries, the nationalization process here lasted for centuries. The first attempt took place in 1600, when Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia (regions that were later on integrated into the state that exists today) were united for a short period. There were also other attempts for a united country that culminated in the year 1918, when the Great Union was completed, and all the Romanian territories were integrated into one.

But why did I started to think about Stephan the Great? To celebrate the centenary of a new project, Via Transilvanica, was launched in Romania. In the next 10 years, a peregrinate road will be arranged to lead to the Putna Monastery.

Putna Monastery
Putna Monastery
Strada Principală 201, Putna 727455, Romania

The Putna monastery and Stephan the Great

The Putna Monastery was built by Stephan the Great, the voivode of Moldavia between 1457 and 1504. He is the best known for the campaigns against the Ottoman Empire. He ruled for 47 years, which is a significant achievement in the Romanian principalities of that time. It is said that he fought in 36 battles, and lost only one. His reign also corresponds to a period of a great architectural upsurge and cultural development.

The Putna Monastery was the first in a series of ecclesiastic monuments built by this great ruler and was destined to become his burial place.

Short history

It is also one of the most important cultural and religious centers of medieval Moldavia. It was built between 1466 and 1469 to thank the God for winning the battle which led to the conquering of the Kiliya city.

There are different theories but the monastery suffered at least a restoration in the 17th century. The reason: the monastery was robbed and burned in 1653. It was redesigned between 1654 and 1662 by Vasile Lupu and his followers Gheorghe Stefan and Istrate Dabija. During this reconstruction, the monastery lost its facade painting. This event made the monastery, in my opinion, even more special, as its uniqueness consists of a simple facade.

In 1791, the metropolitan bishop Iacov ordered a fountain that is placed in the yard of the monastery. He also commisioned the bell, which can be seen even today.

The old building of the abbey, on the western side, was demolished in 1970, to make a place for the construction of the museum and the library.

Putna today

The monastery ensemble is surrounded by the fortified walls and includes the church, the access tower gate, the bell tower, sanctums, a chapel and a museum (which houses religious objects, manuscripts, and ceramics from the medieval era).

The church still has its initial planimetry: three-apsed design, with porch, narthex, burial vault, nave and an altar. Due to the reconstruction, the church suffered some alterations to the vaulting system of the nave, whose cross arches are supported by a succession of pilasters. The number of windows was increased from one to three, for each apse.

The church houses the tombs of Stephan the Great, Mary, his wife, Mary, his daughter, Bogdan (ruler between 1504 and 1517), his son, and Stefanița (ruler during 1517 and 1527) and his nephew.

The Putna Monastery is one of the most important ecclesiastical monuments in Moldavia, and visiting it should definitely be on your bucket list. As for me, this was my exiting attempt to remember history.

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The author

Eva Poteaca

Eva Poteaca

Hello, I am Eva from Bistrița, Romania. I studied art history and love to travel and discover hidden gems all over the world. Through my writing, I will share with you a different side of Romania.

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