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Painted Monasteries of Romania

The Painted Monasteries of Romania

Overview

Discover the Monastic Archipelago of the old Romanian principality Moldavia – one of the most unique cultural landscapes in Europe. Covered in brightly coloured frescoes dating from as far back as the 15th century, the eight painted churches are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Their exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th-century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets. Deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art, the murals represent complete cycles of religious events. Their outstanding composition, elegant outline and harmonious colours blend perfectly with the surrounding landscape, where you will enjoy some rewarding walks.

Highlights

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Bucharest

Arrival and overnight in a four star hotel in Bucharest. Depending on your arrival time, you may have a chance to explore the beautiful capital of Romania.

Day 2: Train to Suceava and transfer to Putna Monastery

After breakfast, you take a train to Suceava on your own (approx. 5 hours), followed by a transfer to Putna (1 hour). Visit Putna Monastery, built by Ştefan cel Mare, following his victory over the Turks at Chilia. It is also one of the most important cultural and religious centres of medieval Moldavia. Enjoy the next two nights in a cosy guesthouse in Putna with dinner included.

Day 3: Putna Circular walk

Today you will visit the small Sihastru monastery. On your way to the monastery, about 2 km from Putna, you will come across the hermitage Chilia lui Daniil. This cave contains a memorial plaque to the 15th-century hermit and seer Daniel Dimitru. A monk from age 16, Daniel later dug and inhabited this rock cave. Visit the museum in Putna, with priceless artefacts and treasures like the embroidered medieval shroud of the Tartarian princess Maria Mangob.

Day 4: Putna – Suceviţa | 18 km

From Putna you take the old monastery path to Suceviţa monastery. In summer, the forest is full of berries and wild mushrooms. Suceviţa Monastery (built 1582–1601) is the largest Bucovina monastery, and some regard it as the finest. It’s perhaps best known for its exterior Ladder of Virtues fresco, with its 32 steps to heaven, near the main entry. It exhorts priests to righteous behaviour and to avoid the unfortunate fate of the clerics depicted tumbling from the ladder due to sins such as greed or vanity. Suceviţa was the last painted monastery built. The monastery’s museum exhibits various treasures and art pieces. Spend the next two nights in a welcoming guesthouse in Suceviţa, with dinner included.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 5-6 hours, ↑180 m ↓250 m
  • Accommodation: Felicia Guesthouse (or similar) 

Day 5: Moldoviţa and circular walk Suceviţa | 8 km

After breakfast, a short transfer will take you to the Ciumirna pass where you can enjoy the astounding panoramic mountain views. Visit Moldoviţa Monastery, built in 1532, it occupies a fortified quadrangular enclosure with a tower, gates and well-tended lawns. The central painted church has been partly restored and features impressive frescoes from 1537. The southern exterior wall depicts the siege of Constantinople in 626, under a combined Persian-Avar attack. Interestingly, the besiegers are depicted in Turkish dress – keeping parishioners concentrated on the contemporary enemy. Inside the sanctuary, on a wall facing the carved iconostasis, a pious Prince Petru Rareş offers the church to Christ. The monastery’s small museum displays Rareş’ original throne.

  • Walking for the day: 8 km, 3 hours, ↑110 m ↓110 m
  • Accommodation: Felicia Guesthouse (or similar) 

Day 6: Suceviţa – Humor | 16 km

Leaving Suceviţa, the transfer will take you to Solca village. An old cart path leads to the Polish village of Solonet, then to the Humor monastery from the 16th century. Built in 1530, Humor Monastery kept its religious function until Bucovina became part of the Habsburg Empire at the end of the 18th century. The Austrian authorities put an end to the monachal life from Humor, and only the church was allowed to continue with its religious functions. The monastery was only restored more than 200 years later, in 1991. The chromatic unity of the paintings of the church is still visible, the main colours being various shades of red. Their quality and importance were the main criteria for adding Humor Monastery to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Spend the next two nights in Humor with your evening meal included.

Day 7: Voronet – Humor | 14 km

Short transfer in the morning to Voronet monastery. Built in just three months and three weeks by Ştefan cel Mare following a key 1488 victory over the Turks, Voroneţ Monastery is the only painted monastery that has had an internationally recognised colour associated with it. ‘Voroneţ Blue’, a vibrant cerulean hue created from lapis lazuli and other ingredients, is prominent in its frescoes. A 2011 restoration of frescoes in the entryway revealed the incredible quality of these paintings even more clearly. Continue your walk up to Objina with good views over a valley and villages scattered around until you reach Humor.

Day 8: Departure

After breakfast, we will transfer you to Suceava train station where you can get the train to Bucharest. Individual stay extensions available upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

One night in a 4-star hotel, two nights in 3-star guesthouse and 4 nights in family-run guesthouses, as indicated in the itinerary. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour

Click to view default hotels

Hotel Minerva, Guesthouse Cabana Putna Dorina, Felicia Guesthouse, Guesthouse Pensiunea Maridor Manastirea Humorului

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast on all mornings and 6 evening meals are included. When no restaurant location is available on route lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your accommodation the night before.

Difficulty & terrain

This tour would suit a moderately experienced walker (no high mountain experience required) and requires a minimal level of fitness. The walks have a relaxed pace with enough time to take in the views and surroundings (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from April until November. The weather is best in June – September. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your holiday on any date in the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Bucharest.

By train or bus

Inclusions

Included

  • Holiday information pack including regularly updated route descriptions and road notes; maps with daily routes and optional hikes marked
  • Accommodation for 7 nights in hand-picked hotels or family-run guest-houses as listed in the itinerary
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 6 evening meals (from day 2 to day 7)
  • Transfer Suceava airport or train station – Putna
  • Moldovita excursion
  • Transfer Manastirea Humorului – Voronet
  • Transfer Manastirea Humorului – Suceava train station or airport
  • Daily luggage transport to the next hotel
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Bucharest airport transfers
  • Entrance tickets
  • Lunch meals and evening meal on Day 1
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request
  • Private airport transfers

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