Bogdana Monastery

Bogdana Monastery is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in the town of Rădăuți, Bukovina, Romania. Its church is the oldest still standing religious building in Moldavia. The monastery was built by Bogdan I of Moldavia (1359-1365) somewhere around 1360.

It was to become his and some the Muşatini ruling princes (Voievods) necropolis. Here are buried all the rulers of Moldavia from Bogdan I to Alexandru cel Bun. There are ten graves inside the monastery's church. In the naos were buried Bogdan I; Laţcu Voievod; an unmarked grave supposedly Maria's (Bogdan I's wife), or Ana's (Laţcu's wife); Ştefan I; Roman I; Bogdan, brother of Alexander the Good; Bogdan, son of Alexander the Good. In the pronaos are the graves of Doamna Stana, wife of Bogdan III the One-Eyed and the mother of Ştefăniţă Vodă; Anastasia, daughter of Laţcu; Bishop Ioanichie (?-1504).

The grave were attended to, and marked properly by Ştefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great). The rocks on top of the graves were created by Jan (ca. 1480) at the order of Ştefan cel Mare, in a style that is different by principle from the oriental decorative sculpture. They are decorated with Byzantine-oriental ornaments like palmetto – a stylized palm leaf, and local motives like leafs of beech, ash tree leafs, elm tree leafs.

The beginnings of Bogdana Monastery and St. Nicolae Church are lost in the darkness of time, in the time of Moldavian feudal state’s birth. During the years, this exquisite architectural monument bared an historic, religious and cultural role. Despite the harsh times, the church resisted for centuries to the Tartar and Turkish invasions, plunders, wars, and Habsburgic domination, being along the time a proof of national Romanian spirit.

During Alexandru cel Bun, the church became a bishopric place, the bishops having their residence in the monastery. Some historian claim that Bogdana Monastery was a metropolitan residence until July 26, 1401, when the Moldavian Metropolitan Church was officially recognized by the Constantinople Patriarchy and the metropolitan seat was moved in Suceava.

Except the porch added by ruling prince Alexandru Lăpuşneanu in 1599, the monastery, carved in raw rock, maintained its initial shape of basilica adjusted to the orthodox cult. The first internal painting of the church is from the times of Alexandru cel Bun (14th century). In 1558, Alexandru Lăpuşneanu started the restoration of the original painting. Other restorations were performed in the 18th and 19th centuries: between 1745-1750, in the time of Bishop Iacob Putneanul and in 1880 when Epaminonda Bucevschi, a Bukovinean painter, painted in tempera the current fresco.

The plan of the church has Romance and Gothic influences, without towers, typical for the early Moldavian architecture. The external walls are consolidated by buttresses and decorated with one plank of niches in the higher part. It constituted an important model for the development of the Moldavian architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Here there were placed also the basis of the religious education in Moldavia, by the establishment of a new school. The schoolmasters were monks, and among the monks apprentices there were people who learned the science of writing to become boyars of the princely Chancellery or teachers needed by the bishop’s Chancellery. Because of the cultural activity that took place from its first years, of the monks’ school and of the printing house that spread its books along Maramureş and Transylvania regions, Bogdana monastery proved to be a real cultural center, maintaining the nation, tongue and faith of the Romanians.

Sources: Wikipedia, Cultural Romtour, Destinaţii turistice.