Friday, September 17, 2010

Churches Around Romania

To say that there are a lot of churches in Romania would be an understatement. I don't think there are necessarily proportionately more than there are in America, but I think because the vast majority of churches are Orthodox churches, they are very VISIBLE buildings. I'm fairly convinced there aren't many places in Romania where you are not able to see a church somewhere in your sight line. They're big, all built relatively the same way, and very much a CHURCHY CHURCH. No confusing it with a gymnasium or auditorium. Unlike America where you have everything from cathedrals to warehouses-converted-to-a-church churches. Or maybe I just notice it more here because Orthodox churches are still quite new and novel to me. 

Anyhow, I realized that I've taken quite a few pictures of the churches I've come across in my 20 months here (Side note- I've lived in Romania TWENTY months. Wow.). So I wanted to post them all together. You can also look at pictures on this Wikipedia article.
As it turns out the largest Orthodox church in the country is located here in Iasi- the Metropolitan Cathedral. I've written about the big festival/Saint's day that is held here each year in October if you want to read more about that. But here is a picture of it from a bit further away so you can get a better understanding of its size.

There are oodles and boodles of other churches in the city, most of which I have never photographed because they're just always around. And just as New Yorkers don't take pictures of the Empire State Building, I don't take pictures of the massive number of cool churches. But here are a few:
Sweet newish church that has a lovely light sandstoney exterior

Beautiful Cetatuia Monastery that also used to be a fortress

Even with all the churches, there are many under construction! This is very near my house- I can now see the steeple from my window

My favorite segment of churches in Romania is the painted monasteries, most of which are in a region a few hours northwest of Iasi. We have gone on team retreats to Voroneti, which I think is the most famous painted monastery (pictured first), but we also went to the Humor (sounds like who-more) Monastery the last time we were there. I apparently didn't take a picture of the whole thing, but the second picture below is the main painted wall at Humor. You can read more about it Voroneti and Humor by clicking the links. I really would like to see some more of the painted monasteries, they're quite striking.

Many of the churches are quite ornate and have pictures of various Orthodox saints and/or Biblical scenes either painted or made in mosaic form. The inside of the churches are split into three rooms, which I understand is meant to mirror the Temple in the Old Testament. Up in front there is even a "wall" that is exactly like the "curtain" described in the Bible that leads to the Holy of Holies. I don't really understand why they believe that's still necessary, as the curtain was literally split in half when Jesus died, and the Bible says we can now come boldly before God THROUGH Jesus. We don't need a human priest to mediate for us, because Jesus is the great High Priest, whose sacrifice was once and for all. But well, it's still pretty to look at!

Cool old church in Bucharest

Over the main entrance of the Iasi Cathedral

Inside the Humor Monastery. Pictures aren't really allowed inside, so this was the "best" I could do discreetly

And here are just a few more pictures of some lovely churches I've seen around the country:

A church/monastery near Botosani. I have no idea what this church is called, but it's striking because it's a massive white church in the middle of the lush green countryside

Stone church in Ivorul Muntelui

Cathedral in Cluj

There are also some really lovely Catholic churches here. One of which is in Iasi, pictured first below. The inside is incredibly beautiful. The only picture I have of it is from a children's choir concert, but at least you can see the ornately decorated walls. The only other large Catholic church I've seen is in Cluj, where there is a significant Hungarian Catholic population. 

I've seen so many, but there are a few distinct types of churches that I haven't yet seen. I would really like to see the wooden churches of Maramures, the Black Church of Brasov, and the "merry cemetery" of Sapanta. Maybe someday. I do have another year to fill with adventures.

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