Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monastery Madness

Day 524
I'm a bit of a dummie and I set my alarm for 9:45 instead of 8:45. Luckily I was up anyway's. I'd forgotten to buy breakfast food the day before so I quickly went to the market for some cereal. Just after 10 I got in a car with Monica, a Belgian couple and two Italian sisters. I rode shotgun.

Our first stop was a market where I picked up some pretty plates.

The first real stop was the Sucevita Monastery. The monasteries around Suceava are unique because they are painted both inside and out with murals. The first one was built in 1585. The frescos were amazing. One side depicted the hierarchy of the angels and saints as well as the life of virgin Mary. The best one was the ladder of virtue with angels helping people up and devils pulling them down.

Inside photography was forbidden. The fresco's were no less fascinating. It was amazing how vibrant they all were. Only a few panels had been retouched. In one of the rooms all the paintings were martyrs. It was really rather bloody. I also learned that St. George died a terrible death after slaying that dragon and saving the princess. He was sawed in half! Another interesting aspect of the monastery was that famous Greek and Roman philosophers that predated Christianity were depicted. Plato was show with a coffin on his head because he was the first person to have the idea of an everlasting soul.

After a short drive we arrived at Moldovista, built 1532. This one had a really amazing depiction of Constantinople being attached and not falling due to prayer.

The entrance to each of the monasteries depicts the last judgement. This one showed wild animals and sea creatures bringing back the bits of humans that they had eaten so that the resurrected people could be whole again. The souls were judged naked beneath the hand of god.

After some traditional food a nice restaurant we went to Vernet, built 1488. The blue of the south side apparently changes with the color of the sky. Here signs of the zodiac were with the last judgement fresco to represent sin. Monica, who is an excellent tour guide, explained an icon that I have seen many times but didn't get. It was of a woman dying with Jesus in the background holding a child. It is actually the death of the virgin Mary and Jesus is carrying her soul to heaven. The man who tried to tip her coffin was all shown with his hands removed by the Angel Gabrielle.

The last stop of the day was Humor, built 1530. It was the smallest and really quite similar to the others. However it had a beautiful garden around it.

The ride back took lass than an hour and I jumped rith into the shower. It had been a hot day. After some dinner and internet time I watched Animal Planet before calling it a night.

No comments: