The painted monasteries

The region of Bucovina is nestled in the rolling hills of northern Moldova. It is home to one of the world’s greatest art treasures: a half dozen Unesco-protected painted monasteries from the 15th and 16th centuries that attest to the region’s artistic skills and enduring faith. Featuring colourful exterior frescoes with dramatic religious scenes, these richly decorated monasteries are unique in the world.

Amomg these, the most famous, often called “the Oriental Sistine Chapel” is Voronet Monastery. It was built in 1488 by Stefan the Great, in order to celebrate a victory against the Ottoman Empire. Voronet’s most stunning feature is a Last Judgment fresco painted on the western wall. The blue paint that has miraculously never faded is known throughout the world as ‘Voronet blue’. The artists here worked in isolation, guarding their trade secrets and to this day, the composition of the paint remains a mystery.

Other painted churches not to be missed include Sucevita, with its distinctive greens, and Humor, where the frescoes are predominantly red. Also nearby are, Arbore, Dragomirna, Moldovita and Putna monasteries.