The Polovragi Monastery

The Polovragi Monastery, Gorj County, is one of the most important religious and artistic monuments which attracts the admiration and the appreciation of the visitors from our country and from abroad. It is a convent for nuns and its dedication day is “Assumption of the Virgin”, 15 August.

The most recent researches based on two Slavonic inscriptions, establish the building date of the Polovragi Monastery about 1505. It is attributed to Radul and Pătru, Danciul Zamona's sons, which are mentioned in a document issued by Prince Basarab the Young (1477-1481), on 18th January 1480. This document is also the first documentary attestation of the village of Polovragi. The founder of the present church of the Polovragi Monastery is the chancellor Danciul Pârâianu of Mileşti, according to the document issued by Prince Matei Basarab (1632-1654), on 16th July 1648. He built the church on the old foundation preserving only the lower part of the walls, which were in a better condition. When it was finished, its founder Danciul Pârâianu dedicated it to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The great voivode Constantin Brâncoveanu (1688-1714) redeemed it in 1693 and placed it under the jurisdiction of the Hurezi Monastery. Consequently, the voivode ordered a start to be made on the complete renovation of this establishment.

The church is built in the Byzantine style on a trefoil plan. Its interior is divided into several sections: an ante-nave, a nave and an altar, which are specific of the Orthodox churches. The painting of the church is particularly important both from an iconographic point of view and its technical execution, with particular characteristics. The paintings inside the church were made between 1703 and 1712 by the renowned master-painters of the painting school of Hurezi (Horezu). In the porch, on the east wall one can admire the two iconographic representations, unique in our country, of the monasteries from the Mount Athos, as well as images from the two Testaments and from the Lives of the Saints. The interior painting is preserved in the original form. It is about 250 years old and it has a particular artistic value. The coloring on the blue background is harmonious and sober. The iconostasis is a real masterpiece of the old Romanian wood carving. Its rich ornamentation strikes by its fineness and brilliancy.

The church is surrounded by the buildings of the Monastery. They date from Constantin Brâncoveanu's epoch and form a stronghold where there are cells, the workshop, the refectory and other dependencies. On the northern side of the precinct of the Monastery there is the Infirmary Church built in 1732 by abbot Lavrentie. It is in Byzantine style, and the interior walls are covered by a delicate painting.

The Polovragi Monastery has a very interesting collection of vestments, epitaphs, icons, crosses, censes, musical manuscripts and religious books. Here we can see too Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu's iptych.