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Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

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Travel to Romania: Exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Moldavia Churches around Iasi & Suceava in Bucovina


Gourmet Travel, Travel With Locals, City Travel, Travel Blog , 0

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Sometimes, when you visit a country entirely new to you, it can feel as if you had already been there. As if everything just felt natural. Simple. And easy, really. This has exactly been my feeling when I first travelled to Romania. My brother having already had a taste of Romania two years ago, followed by an entertaining article he wrote about Sibiu & Transylvania, it now was up to me to discover this fascinating place in our Eastern European homeland.

 

The landscape of Bucovina, the destination of my journey, does recall certain elements of my own homeland in Lower Austria. What is entirely different, though, are the famous outdoor fresco painted Moldavian Churches, protected by UNESCO World Heritage.

“Enjoy taking a look at those churches”, my father tells me with a smile as I am on my way to Iaši, with temperatures soaring to a hot 33°C on 1 July. This city, the capital of north-eastern Romania, has a direct connection with Vienna airport and is surprisingly popular: My flight is virtually fully booked. Arriving, I immediately attune to an ambiance of welcome. Weather and human warmth are just like back home, and I gasp at just how much Romanian I understand thanks to all my other Roman languages – easily a 30-40% of the words and phrases read and heard!

High on those first emotions and happiness, I join my escort, lovely Lacra and her husband Lorin who have come to Iaši ahead of our EUROPETOUR meeting in the city of Suceava in order to share a little more of their homeland with a keen culture traveller like me.

Ankunft und erste Stadt-Erkundung von Iaši mit meiner Gastgeberin Lacra vor dem Stadttheater ...

Arriving to Iaši and exploring the old town together with my host, dear Lacra Beilic …

 

... der Stadtpalast sticht mir dabei besonders ins Auge ...

… who together with her husband takes me to see the city palace …

 

... welcher auch am nächsten Vormittag im Licht der gleißenden Sommersonne eine besonders gute Figur macht.

… which offers a really impressive view, especially during daylight.

 

Schon ein Vorgeschmack auf das, was kommt: Diese Kirche hat bemerkenswerte schöne Außenverzierungen aus Stein ...

Here is a taste of what is yet to come: An image of the intricate stone masonry on the outside of this Orthodox Church …

 

... und hier heißt es bei einem Eis in der Mittagssonne Rast machen: Unter diesem Baum hat sich der berühmte rumänische Dichter Georg Eminescu zu seinen romantischen Versen hinreißen lassen.

… and this, too, is a very special spot, with the national poet and writer Mihai Eminescu having been inspired to his poetry sitting underneath that very tree well over 100 years ago.

 

Auch die Hauptuni ist den kurzen Blick nach innen wert, und bietet eine schöne, frei zugängliche Kunstgalerie mit interessanten Werken.

If you have time, do check out the corridor of the main university, too: It is like a free art gallery and always open for a visit.

 

Wenig später schon geht es auf nach Bukowina: Meine Kolleginnen Karin & Lacra versuchen es auf dem Besen, für deren Qualität die Region unter anderem bekannt ist.

A little later, we are on our way from Iaši to Bucovina area, some 150 kilometres east, and my colleagues Lacra and Karin try making it there on broomsticks – a cultural heritage craft the country people are well-known for.

 

I can almost hear you wonder, “Well where exactly are you Elena, this place you are describing?” At least, I have had to reply to the very same question to my mum, who always likes to know my global whereabouts. 🙂 Northern Romania …

 

… joins up borders with modern-day Moldavia as well as southern Ukraine, having only little linguistic roots in common but taking its major influence from places such as Italy, Austria and Hungary, with Romania once forming part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It is interesting for me to hear Romanians speak quite well of the “Austrian Occupation” during history, connecting the time since 1775 with economic and social development as well as protection against other peoples such as the Turkish. They only really resent Austria’s former emperor, Kaiser Franz Joseph II, for having had all monasteries close during a period of secularisation.

 

Visiting the Churches & Monasteries of Voronet, Humor, Sucevita, Dragomirna & Moldovita is like a fairy tale come true. Never in my life have I seen anything quite like it!

Orthodox churches are famous for their iconography, now that is something I already knew. However, what I did not know was that the Moldavian Churches, internationally acclaimed for their intricate imagery, were just SO RICH in images – inside out, literally. It is not until you come face to face with them that you are able to succumb to the magic of just how well the colours have been preserved over a period of more than 500 years. Easy to see how people throughout generations have found peace, faith and awe in places like these. And still today, the local nuns (all of the above churches and convents we have visited are women’s convents) are “master storytellers” relating the history and faith of centuries, if not millennia.

If you wish to know more about the churches, monasteries and history of Moldavia and Bucovina, check out the homepage of UNESCO for further details. First of all, though, let me take you on a picture journey to Romania …

Vom Besuch der Kirche Voronet ...

… visiting the mighty church frescoes in places such as Voronet …

 

... über die nicht minder prächtige Kirche von Humor (ja, genau wie der deutsche "Humor" geschrieben) ...

… as well as Humor (written almost exactly like the English word “humour”) …

 

... ist es jedes Mal ein ehrfürchtiges Erlebnis, wie der Besuch der Kirche von Sucevita hier zeigt.

… all the way to these outdoor painted frescoes in Sucevita, where a visit of the UNESCO World Heritage Painted Churches is an awe-inspiring experience every time over.

 

Hier sehen wir auch, wie sehr die Nonnen bemüht sind um Kulturvermittlung ...

Touching to see just how much the nuns are eager to share the beauty of their home …

 

... und dass selbige mitunter ganz modern vorangeht.

… even using modern technologies for cultural interpretation and visitor guidance.

 

Sucevita, wie Ihr hier sehen könnt, hat mir ganz besonders gut gefallen. Vielleicht, weil hier auch einfach alles stimmte? Licht, Magie, Stimmung an diesem Tag.

Sucevita, as you can see, has really really impressed me. Perhaps because everything had just been perfect in this moment? The light, the peace, the place.

 

Meine liebe EUROPETOUR Kulturtourismus-Gruppe ermöglicht mir diese Art von Begegnung: Mit Nonnen Tatjana im Kloster Moldovita im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes über "Gott und die Welt" philosophieren - Unbezahlbar.

My wonderful EUROPETOUR travel group allows me to enjoy moments like these: Taking on an almighty philosophy “course” with local nun Tatjana at Moldovita Monastery in Bucovina – a unique and priceless experience.

 

Und seht sie Euch an, diese Fresken: Sind sie nicht wirklich einfach einzigartig?

And check out this close-up here: Isn’t it a miracle just how well those frescoes have been preserved and handed down over time? God Almighty, I am tempted to say !!

 

Apart from being proud about their cultural heritage, Romanian people just love sharing in their actual festivals and (foodie) traditions. Or did you know just how popular “mamaliga” really is?

Now, my dear readers, I am hungry. Not only from all the inspiration received by visiting those monasteries. But also because “mamaliga” indeed is something very tasty, either being served as a vegetarian dish with fresh mushrooms or together with meat & veggies. We are talking a rather simple corn polenta here, which for some (local) reasons is really very tasty around here. The fresh energy has us visit interesting local craftspeople, known for their skills in painting eggs and producing so-called black ceramics. Romanian people are definitely very handy, ingenious and just love to share food and culture with us visitors. Check this out …

Stärkung mit "Mamaliga" (Polenta) und frischer Pilzsauce in Marginea ...

… tasty “mamaliga” polenta served with fresh mushrooms in Marginea …

 

... dem Zentrum für Bukowina's berühmten Schwarzkeramik ...

… the epicentre for Bucovina’s famous black ceramics …

 

... sowie weiterem, wunderschönem Kunsthandwerk.

… as well as many more pieces of intricate art and handicraft.

 

Dies bietet auch diese Frau ...

Check out what local artist lady Letitia Orsivschi is painting here …

 

... im Eiermuseum von Vama, Bukowina.

… at the International Egg Museum of Vama, Bucovina, having established a collection of famous painted eggs from all over the world!

 

Auf dem Weg zu weiteren Gaumenfreuden, besuchen wir "Hilde's Residence" ...

Moving on, we get to visit “Hilde’s Residence” in Gura Humorului, near the famous Humor Monastery …

 

... wo uns köstliche Speisen ...

… a warm-hearted place that immediately beckons you to stay and explore Romania’s beautiful countryside …

 

... oder dieser "rumänischen Apfelstrudel" serviert werden.

… after lunch and dessert, that is: Local Romanian interpretation of our famous apple strudel cake in Austria.

 

Wer immer noch nicht genug hat ...

And if in the evening, you are still hungry …

 

... kann zu rumänischen Tanz- und Folklore-Darbietungen abheben!

… the locals invite you to join them for a traditional dance, easily burning off all extra calories!

 

Was für eine gelungene Überraschung ...

What a magnificent dance demonstration …

 

... für unser gesamtes EUROPETOUR Team!

… and surprise event for our EUROPETOUR team!

 

Vielen Dank, Lacra & Rumänien, für die wundervolle Gastfreundschaft im Herzen der Bukowina!

Thank you so much, dear Lacra and Bucovina, for such a heartfelt welcome in the heart of northern Romania!

 

If you want to find out more about our EuropeTour cultural tourism network, please check out www.europetour.tips. Wonderful just how much the EU encourages us to grow, network, link our offers, develop and share, let alone on a personal level with my new-found, “Romanian family”.

More travel pictures and ideas for places to go are here:

 

Disclaimer: My trip to Romania has been supported by our cultural tourism project “EuropeTour”. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

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