Romanii de Jos: Hurezi Monastery (Manastirea Hurezi)


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Hurezi Monastery 1|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLJAHwHg0uM
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The Hurezi Monastery
 

The Monastery of Horezu (Hurezi) was founded in 1690 by King Constantin Brâncoveanu in the town of Horezu, Wallachia and since 1993 it has been included in the UNESCO patrimony. It is considered to be a masterpiece and the most representative construction in the “Brâncovenesc style”, known for its architectural purity and balance, the richness of its sculpted detail, its treatment of religious compositions, its votive portraits, and its painted decorative works.

 

The Brâncovenesc style, which can be found at several other churches and monasteries in Wallachia, is the only true and original Romanian style and is called “Brancoveanu art” by the name of the ruler who, in a period of constant battles between the world powers of that time, put cultural development of the country above everything and made it the goal of his life.

 

The only artistic centre in this region in the 17th century was Mount Athos (Greece), which prospered as a result of the patronage of sovereigns and nobility in the Romanian principalities and Russia. The Athonite tradition was fostered in Wallachia by its rich and cultured Cantacuzene rulers and gave rise to the flowering of Wallachian art.

 

The church of the monastery is 32 meters long and 14 meters high. The catholicon of the monastery, situated in a picturesque landscape of wooded hills and dedicated to Saints Constantine and Helena, was built in 1690-92 and the interior decoration was completed two years later, the work of the Greek artist Constantinos, who founded the celebrated school of mural and icon painters of Horezu. It is laid out according to the precepts of the Athonite Order around the catholicon, which is enclosed by a wall and surrounded by a series of skites. The overall layout is symmetrical on an east-west axis, the skites forming a cruciform plan. The catholicon is three-aisled with a very large narthex, following the pattern laid down by the church of the Monastery of Arges. Inside the narthex, the lower tier of the walls is entirely filled with votive pictures of Constantin Brancoveanu, his wife, and their 11 children. The east wall of the exonarthex is entirely occupied by a large Last Judgement. The carved wooden iconostasis is of exceptionally high quality. The paraklesion over the refectory is rectangular in plan and surmounted by a turret over the naos, with an open exonarthex. Its mural paintings and iconostasis are original. The Monastery suffered badly in the Turko-Austrian and Turko-Russian wars of 1716-18 and 1787-89 respectively, all the buildings lying outside the enclosure being destroyed.

 

Other buildings constructed at the same period included the prince’s residence, on the south side of the enceinte, ranges of two-storey monks’ cells, kitchens, and other monastic offices. It is a two-storey rectangular building with important architectural features. The entrance was originally in the centre of the western wall of the enclosure, where the paraklesion was located, but this was shortly afterwards converted to a refectory, access being provided beneath the bell tower on the south wall.

 

The church of Bolnica, which is a subgroup of the main monastery, was founded by Princess Maria, wife of Constantin Brancoveanu. It has an unusual mural in its exonarthex, on the subject of the life of the good monk.

 

The Monastery of Horezu represents an important centre for the diffusion of culture. The Horezu School of painting was pre-eminent throughout the region in the 18th century

 

Wallachia was a Romanian principality that was recognized as an independent state in the 14th century. It was never part of the Ottoman Empire and so it was able to undergo a post- Byzantine cultural evolution that distinguishes it from the artistic Balkan family to which it belongs. The only artistic centre in this region in the 17th century was Mount Athos (Greece), which prospered as a result of the patronage of sovereigns and nobility in the Romanian principalities and Russia. The Athonite tradition was fostered in Wallachia by its rich and cultured Cantacuzene rulers and gave rise to the flowering of Wallachian art.

 

The name of the monastery comes from “huhurezi” (eagle owls), a species of night birds with coloured plumage. According to the legend, the workers hired to build it, out of the Turks fear, were forced to work only by night, when the eagle owls were singing.

 

The monastic complex is formed of two precinctses. The first precincts is delimited by brick walls. The second precincts has buildings on three of its sides, and a wall at East. The entrance in the main precincts has a wide vault, with a massive, wooden gate. In the belfry tower there are four bells, weighing between 300 and 1000 kilos. The name of ruler Brancoveanu is written on three of them.

 

On June 20th, 1992, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church decreed the canonization of Constantin Brancoveanu Voivode, of his sons Constantin, Stefan, Radu, Matei, and of the Counselor Ianache as holy martyrs, instituting the celebration of their dedication day on August 16th.

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