The Weekly Postcard: Moisei Monastery in Maramures

The region of Maramureș in the northern part of Romania is perhaps the most traditional area of the country. Because of its natural boundaries –enclosed by mountain ranges with peaks reaching 2300 meters– Maramureș could keep its own specific character throughout history. For most visitors of Maramureș the greatest attraction are the old traditional wooden churches and monasteries in this area. The wooden churches of the region that still stand today were built between the 17th century all the way to 19th century. One of these beautiful churches in Maramureș is the Moisei Monastery , dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The monastery is set in an idilic place, on a sunny plateau above the village of Moisei, surrounded by tall mountain peaks and green forests, between the towns of Borșa and Vișeul de Sus.

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The Monastery of Moisei in Maramureș

The small wooden Church in Moisei was founded by a priest from Ierașul de Sus in 1672, playing an important role for the Romanians in Maramureș after the destruction of the religious center of the Peri Monastery during the 1660s. Soon after it was finished, the Church in Moisei started functioning as a monastery and was endowed with a lot of land an forests by the boyars of Moisei. Because the monastery was dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, people started pilgrimages here every year, beginning with 1873. This not only contributed to the fame of this place, but also saved the small wooden church from destruction. In 1911, a new church was built near the wall of the small wooden church.

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The Wooden Church within the Moisei Monastery

The small wooden church of the Monastery of Moisei has the classical appearance of the wooden churches in Maramureș, distinguished by their unique tall spires and shingled roofs. The church was built of spruce on a stone foundation. The open porch of the church rests on four pillars. Above the narthex rises a small tower with two small windows. The nave has a semicircular arch and is lit by four small windows. The inside painting dates back to 1699 and was done on canvas. In 1871 a new painting was added, this time on a layer of mortar. Fragments of both paintings have been saved. AGA_7135 The new building of the Moisei Monastery was built in neoclassical style. It is about 35 meters tall and was made of stone and brick, in the shape of a cross. The exterior was painted in white, except for the façade that depicts some religious scenes. AGA_7127 The Moisei Monastery became a very important pilgrimage place. Every year on the 15th of August, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is celebrated at the Monastery. People from the Iza Valley villages walk for about a day all the way to the monastery, singing religious songs. Then they spend the night in prayer at the monastery.

 

 

 

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23 Comments on “The Weekly Postcard: Moisei Monastery in Maramures

  1. The churches at the monastery are extremely interesting, the history is steeped into the very walls of the buildings. The inside of the little wooden church is beautifully decorated and is a place I could sit and admire for ages.

    • Thank you, Maggie. I’m glad you liked my pictures of the little wooden church. The real thing and especially the beautiful setting were so much more beautiful in real life!

  2. My birthday is August 15th. I didn’t know it was celebrated as the Assumption of the Virgin Mary! The monastery and surroundings is absolutely gorgeous…so historic and unique.

  3. Anda you come from such a beautiful country. I have not yet been to Romania but all your posts with stunning photos entice me to get there one day. Seeing the pilgrimage on my birthday would be memorable too.

  4. Anda, I have been visiting your blog for some time and I recently noticed you are from Romania. I have heard a lot about the country since one of my good friends from graduate school is from there. It is a pleasure to learn more about the country through your posts.
    Ruth – Tanama Tales recently posted…Santa Cruz Boardwalk in PhotosMy Profile

  5. The Moisei Monastery is beautiful, both inside and out. It is quite a departure from the huge cathedrals of western Europe.

    • Indeed, the small wooden churches in Maramures are very don’t have much in common with the Western European cathedrals, Rhonda.

  6. The monasteries and the surrounding countryside look stunning. Even just through pictures it feels tranquil. I guess that would be different during the pilgrimage season though! I’m impressed by how long the wood has lasted! I’ve never been to Romania but would like to go someday. Thanks for sharing!

    • The wooden church underwent some restorations during the years. It’s difficult for the wood to resist that many years.

    • Give your friend my blog link to check my articles about Romania. She might be able to put together an itinerary. I wrote a lot about that country. I didn’t know you got married in Sinai. I hope you’ll get to take your kids there for your anniversary.Maybe visit the Peles Castle and then take them up for a hike on the Caraiman Mountain Peak.

  7. I’ve been enjoying your stories about California Anda, but your Romania posts are that much more fascinating. Perhaps the Communist era having sheltered the country from western influences may have preserved so much more of Romanian culture than it would have otherwise. Unfortunately, another result is that thanks to the insulation most Americans have only just recently been able to experience Romania’s fabulous wines. (Public Service Announcement: Recas Castle wines are available at Total Wine shops in the U.S. at $6.99 a bottle. SO worth trying. lol.)

    I would never have known about these fabulous monasteries had it not been for UNESCO naming them a World Heritage Site. How many have you visited?
    Linda Bibb recently posted…Panama Viejo: Attacked and SackedMy Profile

    • On this visit I only visited Moisei Monastery, but when I lived there I visited a lot of them. I’m glad if my posts about Romania could incite a little interest about this beautiful country.

  8. Wow, those buildings are absolutely gorgeous. It’s so exciting to explore sights like these while you’re in a new place. Everything about this church is beautiful, and it sounds like you really enjoyed your time there. Nice post! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

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