Campulung: Negru Voda Monastery (Manastirea Negru Voda)

    Wallachia Monasteries


Negru Vodă Monastery|




NEGRU VODA Monastery


Situated in Campulung, the first capital of Wallachia, the monastery (the oldest from Wallachia) is an important monastic, historical and cultural centre of the old Lordly Court of the Basarabs. According to the votive inscription placed above the entrance doors to the church, the monastery was founded in 1215 by Radu Negru Voivode, being afterwards rebuilt by Basarab I and his son, Nicolae Alexandru Basarab. After the constructions in the XIVth century and the modifications undergone in the following century, The Church Negru Voda crumbled in 1628, because of a strong earthquake. Matei Basarab rebuilds it in 1635 on the same ground and using the stones from the initial foundation and this is how it will remain until 1827, when Bishop Filaret Beldiman, with the help of ruler Grigorie Ghica, rebuilds it for the third time and consecrates it in 1832. The monastic centre comprises the Princely Chapel of the royal Court, later the big church of the monastery, the small church – infirmary – from the first quarter of the eighteenth-century, the bell tower from the entrance of the premises – the XVII century, the Royal House – was built in the VII century, on old foundations of the XIV century, Abbots’ houses – the eighteenth century, the royal House Annex and the cells of the early nineteenth century. One can find also the inn-Bazar of the monastery disappeared since 1746.

Around the monastery, in the past, was the first Royal Court of Wallachia but the remains are only several walls since the court was frequently destroyed by the turks. The fortifications belong to the half of the fourteenth century and are constructed as a wave of gravel and rocks surrounded by a 9 meters wide and surrounded by a deep ditch of 2.5 meters filled with water. Royal Palace was the focus around which have appeared over time all other buildings that formed, subsequently, Negru Voda Monastery.

The second founder of the monastery, Matei Basarab (1635-1638) restored the place of worship from the base, the old church became friary, by decree of 10 August 1647, in the same year being also built thel bell tower, 35 meters high, with the role of both enclosure and military fortification gate, being equipped with battlements. The vaulted gang maintains today massive oak gates which begin with a beam of proportions, with inscriptions mentioning the date 1749. Matei Basarab’s lordly mansion was erected in the 17th century, being the place where the first printing house in Tara Romaneasca functioned. It was here that the first book in the Romanian language was printed in 1642: “Morals for all days”. In 1669, lord Radu Nasturel put the foundations of a royal school, first school in which teaching is done in Romanian language, in order to teach also the children of the poor, not only the children of noblemen and rulers. The Father Superior’s house was built in three phases, between the 17-18th centuries, the last time being modified in the Brancovenian style. At the Eastern end of the lordly court there is the infirmary church, built in 1714 by the descendents of the Brancoveanu family.

The church of the monastery Negru Voda is a lordly necropolis and preserves the most important epigraphic record in the country, the oldest voivode gravestone, written in Church Slavonic, belonging to Nicolae Alexandru Basarab. Here are interred the first Wallachian kings: Radu Negru, Negru Voda (Basarab the 1st – considered to be the founder of the state of Wallachia) and his son Nicolae Alexandru Basarab. The monastery is a convent for monks and the dedication day is „Assumption of the Virgin” on August 15.

The form of the church is the nave, with three towers, the one in the middle is higher, and those from the east and west lower. It was built by architect plans Franz Walet in the same place and with the same material from the first building. The shrine is wide and has a shape of arc. The vault is divided by two arches asymmetric leaning on poles only in the south. Behind the temple are two columns that rise up to the canopy, on the right is inscribed year 1832, when the Church was inaugurated.

The wooden temple has ornamental decorations among which the most common motifs being stylized plant. Also, the imperial doors impress with many decorative elements. Between the three registers with icons is distinguished the higher, because it semicircular arches in the central part.

The temple has a more advanced plan to the central nave, compared to the side ones, withdrawn to the altar. This is one of the most beautiful iconostasis in Muscel. The nave is rectangular and has no aisles. In the middle of the nave is a large carved wooden candelabrum.

On the west side are painted Matei Basarab, who holds in his hand a church with three high towers and two small towers, and in the other side Lady Elena, holding the church with her right hand. Radu Negru also holds in his left hand another church with five high towers and two small towers and Nicholas Alexander Prince Ilias holding with his right hand the same church.

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