Curtea de Arges: The Monastery (Manastirea)

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The Legend of Arges Monastery

 

Downward the Arges river, in a beautiful place, as the most famous Romanian legend (The Legend of Master Manole) says, the Black King (Negru Voda or Basarab the 1st) make a stops with his soldiers and, enchanted by the surroundings, decide to choose this place to build a monastery – the most beautiful monastery ever seen in Wallachia.

According to the history, the monastery of Arges was built in three years (1515 – 1517) during the king Neagoe Basarab, on the place of the former Mitropoly of Wallachia built in 1359 during the Black King period.

The monastery is not large (18 meters length, 10 meters wide and 25 meters high) but is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Romania. As a curiosity, the naos and the pronaos are not separated by a door, but by the frame of a door, placed between two columns. Its dedication day is the “Assumption of the Virgin” on August 15. The paintings inside the church were executed by Master Dobromir during the reign of the King Radu of Afumati, in 1526. In the pronaos were burried great rulers of Romania: Neagoe Basarab King and his wife Despina, Radu of Afumati King, King Carol I and Queen Elisabeta, King Ferdinand and Queen Maria.

Curtea de Arges Monastery is the place where “The legend of master Manole” was born. According to the legend one day, a very wealthy and religious Walachian king, the Black King, rode with nine stonemasons and their master Manole to find a place and build a church more beautiful than anyone may have seen before. They founded a very nice place and the stonemasons started to work, but whenever they almost reached to the top, the walls would collapse before they could ever finish it. After a dream of Manole, they decided and made a vow that the first women seen by them to be sacrificed in order to see their work done. And it so happened the Manole’s wife showed up to bring her husband’s lunch. Manole prayed to God to start a storm and turn his wife back, but despite the strong wind and rain, Ana, Manole’s wife, arrived to his husband. So Manole had to keep his vow and immure his own wife alive within the church walls. The place of this immolation can still be seen between two walls of the southern front side of the church. This is how the monastery could be finished, and the prince was pleased to find that it was the most beautiful as ever he saw.

After that, the prince would not want Manole to build another church that could be more beautiful and he ordered to remove the scaffolding, which left Manole stranded on the roof. In an attempt to escape, Manole made himself a pair of wings from shingles, but they were of no avail, and he would crash to the ground like Icarus and die. Upon his crash, on that place, a wellspring has spring out, which is now called Manole’s well. Today people would throw coins in its basin, to make their wishes come true.

Another legend refers to Saint Filofteea’s holy relics, the relics of a 12 year girl that are to be found in the chapel of the monastery. It is said that the girl used to carry food to the workers hired by her father. But one day she gave the food to the beggars encountered in her way. Then her father killed her with one hit of the axe. The corpse of the girl could be lifted only when the name of Curtea de Arges Monastery was mentioned. That is the reason why the priests have decided to put the relics in this monastery.

In Curtea de Arges there can also be visited the remains of the first Royal Court of Wallachia and the Royal Church of Wallachia, finished in 1352, where is buried The Black King (Basarab the 1st), the founder of Wallachia.

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