Know Your Monasteries

You don't have to be an art-history snob to wow your friends with monastery fresco facts. While each monastery is different, they share many common motifs. Inside the churches, for example, check out the facing wall in the main altar room to see an image of the church's patron or builder (and his family) offering the church to god. The exteriors almost always depict some version of a ladder to heaven.

While the monasteries usually depict the same stories and images, the differing preservation qualities means that some monasteries are more strongly associated with a particular colour or image. The following need-to-know details help keep things straight.

Arbore Monastery

  • Representative colour: green
  • Famous fresco: Scenes from the book of Genesis that adorn the western exterior wall

Humor Monastery

  • Representative colours: red and brown
  • Famous frescoes: The Annunciation, The Life of St Nicholas

Voroneţ Monastery

  • Representative colour: blue
  • Famous fresco: The Last Judgement

Moldoviţa Monastery

  • Representative colour: yellow
  • Famous frescoes: The Siege of Constantinople, The Story of Jesus’ Life

Suceviţa Monastery

  • Representative colour: green
  • Famous frescoes: The Genealogy of Jesus, The Ladder of Virtues, The Story of Moses' Life

Worth a Trip: Rădăuţi & Marginea

Side trips from the Bucovina monastery trail include Rădăuţi and Marginea.

Rădăuţi is a small market town with Moldavia's oldest church, the mid-14th-century Bogdana Monastery, built by Prince Bogdan I, which is also the mausoleum for eight early Moldavian rulers and their families, including Bogdan I, Latcu, Roman Muşat and Ştefan I.

Rădăuţi's square, Piaţa Unirii, features a multidomed cathedral. Opposite, the Museum of Bucovina Folk Techniques is Moldavia’s oldest ethnographic museum and displays over 1000 items, including regional pottery.

Tiny Marginea, 9km west of Rădăuţi, produces a unique black pottery, made with a technique dating to neolithic times. Here AF Magopat Gheorghe displays and sells these items, and showcases the last traditional potters in action.

This area also has remarkably good guesthouses, many signposted, catering to all budgets. In Rădăuţi, Gerald's Hotel is among Moldavia's nicest hotels. It's loaded with business-class amenities, like a fitness centre and elegant bathrooms adorned with dark-wood furniture, plus a restaurant and bar. Rădăuţi is also blessed with Antique, one of Bucovina's best restaurants.