Arnota Monastery

Arnota Monastery is located in Costeşti commune, Vâlcea County, Oltenia, and it is one of Romania’s most valuable monuments, famous for its architectural style, sculptures and paintings. Initially a monastery for monks, today it is (since 1999) a convent for nuns. It is consecrated to Saint Archangels Michael and Gabriel and its dedication day is 8 November.

The monastery was erected by ruling prince Matei Basarab (1632-1654), between 1634-1636. Under the church of the monastery were found the traces of an older church. It is said that the ruler Matei Basarab decided to build this monastery on the site of the household where he found shelter in a difficult time, when he was chased by the Turks.

Matei Basarab and his wife at Arnota

The monastery was renovated by ruling prince Constantin Brâncoveanu (1689-1714) between 1705 and 1706. He also added a porch with a belfry, and replaced the iconostasis and the front door carved in chestnut wood. He ordered the painting to be restored, with special precautions not to damage the previous layers.

Another restoration was made by ruling prince Barbu Dimitrie Ştirbei (1848-1853 and 1854-1856), between 1852-1856, who ordered its walls to be repainted, and its old cells to be demolished and replaced by new ones, made in brick. Important restorations were also carried on in 1907, 1935 and 1954-1958, when the construction was consolidated and provided with sewage and central heating.

The church is built in a three-cuspid plan, with apses, an open porch and brick columns. The mural paintings, among which the founder's portrait, were made by painter Stroe of Târgovişte in 1644. In the narthex there are the tombs of High Chancellor Danciu (Matei Basarab's father) and of Matei Basarab himself, whose remains were moved here from Târgovişte. A tall tower stands above the narthex, and another smaller one dating from Brâncoveanu's time, above the portico. The façades are divided into two registers by a frieze that imitated a face brick pattern; the superior register was provided with hollowed-out recesses in the wall, whereas the inferior register was provided with rounded-off recesses in the wall and beautifully rounded windows.

Photos from Resurse ortodoxe, Wikipedia, Ghidul Muzeelor.