20 September 2009

Monasteries around Chisinau

Kindly taking pity on me, two of my colleagues here in Chisinau took me out of the city to visit some of Moldova's monasteries. We had a beautiful fall day in which to explore four of the near-by monasteries, however I only managed to catch the name of one. Seeing these reminded me of how much I love the eastern architecture with the cupolas and bright colors used to decorate both the inside and outside of churches in the Orthodox religions.

The second monastery was gorgeous. The grounds burst with the colorful flowers attended by nuns and the shell of a majestic cathedral rose out of the hill like the remnants of an ancient castle in contrast to the sunny yellow of the existing churches and outlying buildings.

I was told that there is even an on-site hotel for this monastery and people come for spiritual holidays. Being inside the unfinished cathedral was an interesting experience. Even though the outside of the building is unfinished, meaning that the inside is even more unfinished, does not stop people from using the church.

Skeletons over which the cupolas will be constructed

The bare walls were hung with icons in front of which stood tables with burning beeswax candles that scented the air and provided most of the faint light in the church. In the corners, huge crosses, easily 10-12 feet long, lay draped in flowing cloths, ready to be uncovered and hung throughout the church. The hushed voices from people lighting candles floated just under the music from the nun singing chants while she swept the poured concrete floors. Even unfinished, the church hummed with the mysteries of the eastern cults. It's easy to see why the Russians chose this religion over all others when the country converted to Christianity.

We also visited the Capriana monastery, rumored to have had Stefan cel Mare as its patron.

And yes I know I said we visited four monasteries but there are only pictures from three. We did visit four but by the time we got to the fourth the nice crisp fall days with its burning blue sky and brisk wind had me a little cold and I stopped caring about pictures.