Arbore Monastery

The Arbore parish church belongs to the suite of Moldavian painted monasteries. Located in Suceava county, in northern Romania, Arbore monastery was built in the first half of the 16th century and is dedicated to the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. The monastery belongs to UNESCO World Heritage.

author:babut casian

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The monastery was founded by a squire, Luca Arbore, which is reflected by the absence of the belfry or tower on the wide, round eave saddle roof. It was built from brick and local stone. Its layout is rather simple and longitudinal, but features a special harmony in its proportions. The lateral walls are prolonged to the west and bound through a round arch, thus creating a semi-open space innovative to Moldavian architecture. This niche on the western facade used to house the church bells.

On the interior, the absydiums which usually define the three-leaf clover layout are missing, being replaced through simple arched niches in the lateral walls.

The pre-nave, serving as a crypt, houses the founder' tombstone, considered to be the most valuable Gothic style funeral stone in this part of the country.

The byzantine wall paintings of Arbore monastery were carried out some 40 years after the church itself was finished. The painting style reveals spontaneity and a transparency similar to watercolor. The depicted characters often adopt uncanonical gestures, pointing out the fact that the painter was a layman. Conventionally, the Last Judgment is illustrated on one of the exterior walls. The great niche on the west wall features a set of miniature paintings, considered to be the best such paintings of the period.

The halos of the illustrated saints are golden and often drawn in relief, irradiating against the background with dominant green blue and beautiful cyan hues.

The frescoes of Arbore monastery impress through their decorative quality, the warm and luminous colors, the rhythm and elegance of the illustrated silhouettes. The interior mural paintings are noteworthy and remarkable for portrait art. They include votive paintings of the founder family, portraits of the Virgin Mary, of Emperor Constantine, of the Great and Empress Elena. The painting in one of the niches is symbolic of the victory upon the Ottomans. An other apse features a surprising painting of Catholic influence: Saint Christopher, the child Jesus and the martyr saints.



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