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Churches with Exterior Paintings




The exterior painted frescoes of Bucovina's churches (Suceava County) appeared as an isolated phenomenon in the 16th century, and especially in Petru Rares's times. The number of monuments with such decoration was greater, but today only six are preserved: Arbore, Humor, Moldovita, Rasca, Sucevita and Voronet. Important traces can also be seen at Probota, Baia, Patrauti, Sfantu Ilie near Suceava and Suceava (Sf. Gheorghe – St. John the New Monastery).


  • Arbore, village in Suceava County.
    The parochial church was first a chapel built by boyard Luca Arbore to dedication day – the Baptist's Beheading. This choice was somehow prophetic since the founder of the church died in the same manner a short time after he built the monument, at the order of the young Voivode Stefanita. The church was built in 1503 (between April 2 and August 29), and painted in 1541, by the team of Dragos Coman, an Iasi church painter. The painting amazes due to the perfect details with elements of flamboyant Gothic and of early Italian Renaissance. The extraordinary persistence of the blue pigment used by the painter is to be noticed here. The large niche from the western facade, met only at Reuseni, also draws attention at Arborei
  • Humor, Suceava County
    The church from today's monastery was built in 1530 by boyard Toader Bubuiog, and painted in 1535 by master Toma's team, also known as Toma from Humor. The porch with two archways slightly broken, placed in the western part of the church is typical of the monument. The angels painted on the vault of the pro-nave (the space in front of the nave), and the Virgin with the Baby Jesus from the superior side of the entrance door are remarkable pieces of art. The portraits of the founders painted on the nave are also famous. A spectacular belfry, built by Vasile Lupu, in 1641, rises near the church.
  • Moldovita, Vatra Moldovitei Village, Suceava County
    The modern-day church of Moldovita Monastery with dedication day the Annunciation, was founded by Petru Rares, in 1532. People say that the painting was made in 1537 by master Toma's team. The chromatic became famous since the red color was prevalent even more than in Voronet or Arbore. The church has a triconical plan, being developed on longitudinal lines. On the exterior, those three abses – one of the shrine, and two of the nave – are decorated with paintings representing the Prayer of all the Saints. Classical culture representatives are added to them, considered the forerunners of Christianity: Pitagora, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, and the Sybills. The frescoes from the southern facade are also well-preserved. To the west, the entrance is opened through a porch with five archways: three to the west, and only one to the north and south.
  • Rasca, Suceava County
    It was founded by Petru Rares, in 1542, and painted in 1552 by Stamatello Cotronas, an artist of Greek origin. The look today with two towers and an unusually long plan was achieved as a result of extension work since 1611 – 1617. In those times, the Chief of Police Costea Bacioc ordered the building of a huge exonartex, doubling the interior space. Rasca was in the 19th century an exile place for 1848 revolutionaries such as Alecu Russo, Mihail Kogalniceanu and C. Negruzzi. They say that the last two wrote here their famous cook-book, dreaming of the once-so- rich feasts.
  • Sucevita, Suceava County
    Sucevita Monastery is the biggest, the newest and, at the same time, the best preserved among Bucovina's painted churches. First, it amazes visitors through its indestructible fortress look. The construction works started in 1581 upon the order of the ambitious Movila brothers – Ieremia, Simeon and Gheorghe (the first two future voivodes, the third a metropolitan bishop.). The church was painted in 1596 by the brothers Ioan and Sofronie, but the construction works continued until 1601. The painting called Sf. Ioan Scararu's Virtues Staircase gives Sucevita its personality.
    A royal necropolis, Sucevita shelters the Movilescu family's tombs, as well as their portraits. A stone sculptured as a feminine face is inserted in one of the north-western tower corners, to the exterior side of the precinct. Despite the inability of the artist, it is important as an exception in the Orthodox space usually hostile to three-dimensional images.
  • Voronet, Suceava County
    Dedicated to Sf. Mare Mucenic Gheorghe from Voronet Monastery, the church was founded by Steven the Great, in 1488, and painted during the same reign. It was extended by adding an exonartex, and painted inside during Petru Rares's reign, the natural son of the first founder. Voronet became famous among those fond of Medieval art for two important features of its painting: the prevalent color is blue, got from a pigment still unknown today, and the scene representing the Doomsday is spectacular, being displayed on the entire western wall, uninterrupted by any kind of holes, doors or windows. Beyond these beauties generously revealed, Voronet hides also the treasure of paintings from Steven the Great's times. Among them is a portrait of the Voivode .

Others Churches with Exterior Paintings

  • Patrauti, Suceava County
    St. Cross Church is one of the most representative monuments, being the first of Steven the Great's foundations (1487). It has a simple triconic plan, and preserves on the western facade traces from the Doomsday scene. But its fame is conferred by a scene painted in the pronave, that is not only rare, but also well painted – the Cavalcade of the Holy Cross
  • Probota, Probota Village, Dolhasca Community, Suceava County
    Petru Rares built here, in 1530, a new monastery near the ruins of an older church. He gave to the new monument the same dedication day as the ancient one – St. Nicholas. The church, Princely necropolic, has a triconic plan, and had paintings both inside and outside. The interior was restored, and the old look, the beautiful painting from the Rares reign, was recovered, after the removal of the newer fresco. The personality of this monument is given by a scene that covers the entire exonartex vault (a semi-cylindrical recalling the Sistine Chapel in Vatican).
  • Sfantu Ilie,near Suceava
    The church was built in 1488, resembling Voronet, another Steven the Great foundation. The interior fresco, contemporary to the building, is well preserved. There are also traces of the exterior painting from 1632-1653, during Varlaam metropolitan bishop times.
  • Sfantul Gheorghe (1514-1522), Suceava
    The edifice is also known as Sf. Ioan cel Nou from Suceava Monastery, since the bones of this merchant from Trebzon are to be found here. He was declared martyr at Cetatea Alba, and, later, canonized, with the people's devotion building him a real cult. The church of the monastery preserves interior paintings still un-restored, and important traces of exterior fresco, on the southern wall

The Fortified Churches

  • Bazna, Sibiu County
    The current monument, which started from a Romanic church from the 13th century, owes its look to the subsequent intervention. Among other changes, it got the today's over-raised quire with a defensive role. The stone tabernacle dates from 1504
  • Balcaciu (Jidvei Village), Alba County
    A Saxon fortified church from the 14th –15th centuries. It is impressive due to the dimension of the quire with a surveillance road. From those two concentric precincts with bastions, only the exterior one was preserved. From the 14th century a bell is preserved with a scene in relief representing Samson's fight with the lion
  • Biertan,Sibiu County
    The hall church is included into the late Gothic period (1492-1524), being covered with a network of vauls. A polyptych shrine (1515-1524). A pulpit with stone baso-relief (1523). A chapel for those who remained Catholics after the Reform was adopted by the Saxon natives is still preserved on the first floor of another tower. The chapel displays mural paintings. The monument has three strong precincts, the most representative of this type of construction
  • Carta, Harghita County
    A Roman Catholic church that looks like a hall. It was built in a late Gothic style, at the end of the 14th century. The vaults are decorated with reliefs.Cincu, Brasov County
    A strong church which was initially, in the 13th century, a Romanic basilica with a central tower on the western side. The vaults system and the abse were changed in accordance with the Gothic style. The shrine has as its main theme St. Apostle Thomas, and has its origins in Mosna. The defensive system used to have two concentric precincts. Today, only fragments from this system have survived.
  • Cisnadie, Sibiu County
    The Evangelist Church is a 12th century basilica with three halls separated by masonry pillars. The monument was transformed during the 15th century, when it received a defense system with two circular belts strengthened with towers and a water ditch. On the southern side, religious objects with great artistic value made by Transylvanian artists were discovered during the 20th century. Today, the pieces are in Brukenthal Museum in Sibiu.
  • Cisnadioara, Sibiu County
    The oldest Romanic church preserved in our country (mentioned since 1223, before the dreadful Tartar invasion from 1241-1242). It is a basilica with three short halls, separated by masonry pillars. The quire has a gorgeous vault with a Romanic cross shape. The church has Romanic portals on the west, south and north sides. The western portal (around 1260) is fascinating. The western facade is interesting from the architectural point of view, being a possible model for the later facade s from Valachia. It has a single strong precinct
  • Cloasterf, Mures County
    The hall church has an un-separated quire and abse. On top of them a defense system with a guarded road was built. The quadrilateral precinct has corner towers. The church was finished in 1523
  • Cristian, Brasov County
    The Evangelist church, basilica-type, with three halls and a western tower, dating from the 13th century. It is possible that the church was built with the help of the Cistercian monks. The peasant fortress located near the church dates from the 16th century
  • Cristian, Sibiu County
    The church, initially Romanic, was rebuilt in a Gothic style. The quire is guarded by two chapels. The strong church with two concentric precincts and towers dates from the 16th century
  • Dealu Frumos, Sibiu County
    The Romanic church with three halls from the 13th century was changed into a Gothic hall church, in the 15th century. The western tower was arranged as a strengthened area, while on the quire a tower with defensive functions was built. The defensive wall has corner towers
  • Drauseni, Brasov County
    The former Romanic basilica (the 13th century), it was changed in a Gothic style and endowed with a defensive system in the 15th century. It has paintings from the 14th century with scenes from St. Ecaterina from Alexandria's life.
  • Harman, Brasov County
    A basilica with three halls and a belfry to the west (the 13th century). The oval precinct has square towers. In the funerary chapel, Gothic mural paintings from 1460-1470 are to be found. They reproduce the Doomsday events. The strengthened precinct from the 15th – 16th centuries includes, as well as the precinct of the church from Prejmer, rooms for all the families in the village. They served as refuges in times of siege. Other rooms of the same kind were added directly to the church
  • Homorod, Brasov County
    A peasant fortress with a double precinct (the 15th – 16th centuries) was built around the church during the 13th century. In its turn, it was also strengthened. In the quire, mural paintings are to be found.
  • Hosman, Sibiu County
    A peasant fortress with a double precinct (the 15th – 16th centuries) was built around the church during the 13th century. In its turn, it was also strengthened. In the quire, mural paintings are to be found.
  • Ighisul Nou, Sibiu County
    A strengthened church, placed in the middle of the village and surrounded by a defensive precinct in the 16th century. It is impressive due to the dimensions of the western tower, which has the same width as the church nave. On top of the quire, the defensive features include the guarded road and the fire pipes. The western portal is one of the many stone elements artistic sculptured.
  • Medias, Sibiu County
    In the Middle Age, it was one of the most important Saxon towns on the Tarnava Mare Valley. The Castle was built between the 14th and 15th centuries, around Sf. Margareta Church, a Gothic basilica with three halls and a tower that dominates the town. Gothic mural paintings are preserved inside the church, as is a polyptych shrine made by the Viennese School, and a precious Bronze font from the 14th century
  • Miercurea Sibiului, Sibiu County
    In the beginning Romanic, the church was transformed in accordance with the Baroque style with a strengthened oval precinct with fire pipes and devices meant to deflect the melted taMosna, Sibiu County
    The church architecture follows the late Gothic style (1480-1486). The frames are extremely beautiful. The strengthened precinct includes an older Gothic chapel, built perhaps in the 14th century. The belfry is impressive.
  • Prejmer, Brasov County
    Work on the basilica seems to have been started by the Theuton Knights during their short stay in Barsa Country, and finished by the local Saxon community. It was built in a Cistercian Gothic style (around 1250). The polyptych shrine is the oldest in Transylvania. The pulpit is small and reveals paintings from the 18th century. Around the church, the peasant fortress was built in a circular manner (the 15th – 16th centuries) with a guarded road and fire pipes. On the inside, it has rooms positioned on three floors, able to offer shelter, during a siege, for the entire community, and in the peaceful times to keep the food of each family.
  • Seica Mica, Sibiu County
    Gothic Basilica from the 14th century was restored and strengthened around 1500. It has a double precinct, an over-raised strengthened quire, and fire pipes. The western tower was strengthened, while access was through a barbacana.
  • Valea Viilor (Vorumloc), Sibiu County
    Sf. Petru Church dates from the 13th century, but it suffered many changes in the 15th – 16th centuries, when a double defense system was added. Both the western tower, and the over-raised quire dominate the surrounding buildings. The edifice was built in a late Gothic style (the 16th century). The shrine, the font and the rest of the pews are from the 18th century. The church is the hall type.
  • Viscri, Sibiu County
    The fortress church dominates a peak from the edge of the village. Romanic traces are revealed by elements of Romanic paintings still preserved inside the church. The precinct is strengthened with towers and defensive bastions

The Wooden Churches

The wooden churches are not limited only to Maramures area, but cover almost all the country, from Banat and Crisana (the western part of Romania) to Transylvania (center), Moldavia and Bucovina (in the east), going down to the south in Oltenia and Valachia. The migration of the churches is also an important matter. Certain monuments are moved twice, three and even four times from a newly rich village to a poorer one.

  • Adancata, Suceava County
    Sf. Dumitru Church: rectangular plan, the abse of the shrine is polygonal and separated (typical elements for the wooden churches). It undeerwent important changes in the 18th and 19th centuries when it received two porches.
  • Baica, Salaj County
    Sf. Arhangheli (St. Archangels) Church was built in 1645. It has a belfry with a watchtower on the pronave. The sculptured ornaments and the paintings date from the 18th century
  • Balan, Salaj County
    Two wooden churches important due to their architecture: Sfintii Arhangheli from Joseni (1695), and Adormirea Maicii Domnului (Assumption of the Virgin) from Cricova (the 17th century).
  • Balesti (near Targu Jiu), Gorj County
    Sfintii Arhangheli wooden church (1679) is considered one of the most important buildings of this kind in Oltenia. The paintings date from 1679, and 1736
  • Borsa, Maramures County
    Sfintii Arhangheli Church (1700) is considered one of the most beautiful wooden churches in Romania. The western porch is absolutely amazing. It has a roof with a double hem. The decorations in wood and the mural paintings date from 1775
  • Bradet,Buntesti Village, Bihor County
    Sf. Ioan Teologul (St. John the Theologist) wooden church (1733) is one of the best made in the country. It has a rectangular plan, and a separate abse. The entrance door, placed on the western faCade, reproduces in wood a Gothic portal
  • Bradicesti, Dolhesti Village, Iasi County
    The Annunciation wooden church was built between 1692 and 1694. It has a rectangular plan and shrine. The paintings are from the 19th century.
  • Calinesti, Arges County
    A wooden church with a double dedication day – Sf. Gheorghe and Sf. Dumitru, 1720-1740. It is attractive due to the sculptured decoration of the pillars and frames
  • Campofeni, Gorj County
    Sf. Nicolae Church, 1708-1710. Mural painting since the end of the 19th century. Gorgeous decoration in wood.
  • Cizer, Salaj County
    A wooden church built in 1773 by Ion Necula Ursu's (Horea) team of moti (Oas natives). It has a perimetral porch. Due to its tremendous value, the monument was moved to the Ethnographic Museum in Cluj
  • Corund, Satu Mare County
    Sfintii Arhangheli wooden church, 1723, a rectangular plan, a polygonal separated abse, a belfry with a watch-tower on the pronave, and porches on the western and southern sides
  • Dragomiresti, Maramures County
    Adormirea Maicii Domnului (the Assumption of the Virgin) church, built in 1722, can be admired at the Village Museum in Bucharest. It has a rectangular plan, a polygonal separated abse, and a large porch.
  • Feresti, Maramures County
    Sf. Nicolae Church was built at the end of the 17th century (the 18th century) from oak wood beams. The painting was restored in the 19th century. The nave is rectangular with a polygonal separated abse
  • Fildul de Sus, Salaj County
    It is considered one of the most beautiful pieces of art in Romania. The plan is rectangular, while the abse is separated and the belfry extremely high. The 18th century.
  • Igoiu, Alunu Village, Valcea County
    Cuvioasa Paraschiva Church (1652) has a rectangular plan, and a polygonal abse. It has a porch on the western side.
  • Jercalai, Urlati town, Prahova County
    Sf Arhangheli Mihai and Gavril Church. Built in 1731 near Reghin town, the church was turned by Queen Mary into a Royal chapel. Later it was moved to Urlati. Its architecture is extremely interesting – the belfry, an open porch.
  • Lupsa, Alba County
    Located on Aries Valley, similar due to the culture of wood and its picturesque landscapes to Maramures valleys, Lupsa has a small wooden church interesting both for architecture and history. It was built in the 15th century with Gothic elements. It is a hall church type, with a polygonal separated abse. The building is strengthened by abutments.
  • Margina, Timis County
    Cuvioasa Paraschiva Church (1737) is representative for this style and for Banat area. It has a rectangular plan, a polygonal separated abse, and mural paintings from the 18th century.
  • Nadis, Cehu Silvaniei town, Salaj County
    Sfintii Arhangheli Church(1732) is considered a precious monument since it preserves traditional shapes and decorations.
  • Rieni, Bihor County
    Sf. Teodor Tiron wooden church (1753-1754), built by Tulea Ilie. It has a rectangular plan, a separated abse, a small tower on the pronave. The interior paintings date from 1754, and were made by the painter David from Pitesti.
  • Rona de jos, Maramures County
    Village located in one of the most picturesque Maramures valleys – Ronisoara. Nasterii Maiciii Domnului (Virgin's Birth) Church was built in oak wood in 1665. The nave is rectangular and the abse is polygonal and separated. The roof has a double hem. As in many other churches, the belfry has a watchtower.
  • Sighetu Silvaniei, Chiosd Village, Salaj County
    Sfintii Arhangheli wooden church (1632). A rectangular plan with a square and separated abse. It has a belfry with a watchtower on the pronave
  • Soconzel,Socond Village, Satu Mare County
    Sfintii Arhangheli (1777) wooden church is a gorgeous monument of people architecture. It has a rectangular plan, a separated polygonal abse, a belfry with watchtower on top of the pronave, and a porch on the western side. The decoration of the frames is sculptured, as are the pillars of the porch. Interior mural paintings from the 18th century
  • Straoane, Vrancea County
    Sf. Nicolae church was built during the 15th century, and rebuilt in the 18th century. The plan is triconic (it is not rectangular as in most wooden churches), the porch is open, while the belfry is placed on top of the pronave. The personality of the church is given by unusually large eaves
  • Totoreni, Tarcaia Village, Bihor County
    The Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church (1696) is a precious monument from the people's architecture. The veranda is located on the southern side of the nave. The sculptured decoration is extremely rich
  • Varciorog,Bihor County
    Sfintii Arhangheli Church is considered one of the most beautiful works of the wooden architecture from Apuseni Mountains area. It has a belfry and porch on all sides.