Introduction

Bucovina’s painted monasteries are among the most distinctive in all Christendom. They’re cherished not only for their beauty and quality of artisanship, but also for their endurance over the centuries and their overall cultural significance. The half-dozen or so monasteries, scattered over a large swathe of Bucovina, date mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries, a time when Orthodox Moldavia was battling for its life with forces of the expanding Ottoman Empire.

The monasteries are hailed mainly for their colourful external frescoes, many of which have survived the region’s cruel winters relatively intact. The external wall paintings served as both expressions of faith and as an effective method of conveying important biblical stories to a parish of mostly illiterate soldiers and peasants. But don’t pass up the rich interiors, where every nook and cranny is filled with religious and cultural symbolism.