Snagov Monastery

40 km North from Bucharest, the traveler arrives in an oak forest, which was once part of a vast forest that covered up until the 18th century the whole Romanian Plain. Well hidden by the forest, a magnificent view of the Lake Snagov unfolds at one’s feet. No use. People have discovered it all, the area being already conquered by hundreds of weekenders. No wonder – its popularity is sustained by the King’s Castle and by Ceauşescu’s somewhat bigger castle.

An island stretches out in the lake at some distance from the shores. It houses Snagov Monastery, a rustic cloister from 1364. The monastery is built in Byzantine Style: walls are built of alternating rows of stones and bricks, the church itself is built in the form of a cross with a semicircular altar. The roof is very much unlike the Byzantine way of building: because of the lower temperatures during winter than in the Greek area, the roofs are steeper, so that the snow can fall down.

When visiting the monastery, something makes you shiver, especially, if you see every now and then, somewhere far away, one of the few monks walking in front of you. Dressed in their black robes and black hoods, they seem to be servants of an evil force. Just enter the church and you shall see why. Inside the monastery one can see the largest assembly of medieval frescoes from Wallachia, dating from the XVIth century.

Snagov village was built around the Snagov monastery. Archeologists confirmed human presence of inhabitants since 400 BC. The first written record of it is found in a document from the court of Mircea cel Bătrân and dated 1408. The name is of probably Bulgarian origin, from the word sneg (meaning "snow"). It might also derived from the Bulgarian snaga, meaning "human body".

The Wallachian Ruling Prince, Vlad Ţepes (known as Dracula), is is supposed to be buried here, after being killed in the nearby forest by the Janissaries during a battle between Wallachian & Ottoman forces. In the middle of the church a thumb has been discovered, with bones of a man in precious clothes. In the Chronicles of the time, he is depicted as a ruthless ruler, who executed his enemies employing the most terrible torments. The same fate had also the thieves. This is why all commercial roads of the country were safest at his time. People say, one could let a carriage full of gold unattended on the road, no one risked stealing even a small piece of gold.