Visiting monasteries and convents in Romania

Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula gets much of the attention when it comes to tourism in Romania, but there is much else to see besides. As well as the beautiful countryside, many lovely castle and churches and ancient cities, the country is littered with many fascinating monasteries and convents. Romania of course is a largely Orthodox country, and presents a very distinct and unusual set of monastic traditions. Here are some of the best sites you should try and see:

The Monastery of Horezu
Situated in the southern Romanian region of Wallachia, the Horezu monastery was founded by Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu in 1690, a cultured ruler who founded "Brâncovenesc style" of architecture during his rule. The monastery is no longer working, but is an architectural wonder. There are a number of hotels nearby so you can relax after a hard day´s sight seeing with game of poker or bridge without having a long journey back by bus to your hotel. The monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Agapia Convent
You actually get two convents for your trouble here. There´s the Agapia din Vale (Agapia in the Valley) which is very tranquil and still used by nuns. Don´t miss the convent church, the museum of icons, and the wooden church next to the Topolniţa stream, not to mention the Casa Memorial Alexandru Vlahuţǎ - the museum house of writer Alexandru Vlahuţǎ. The Agapia din Deal (Agapia on the Hill), aka Agapia Veche (Old Agapia), is about half an hour´s walk away on a hill and smaller, but even more tranquil.

The painted monasteries of Bucovina
In north eastern Romanian region of Bucovina you will find the very beautiful monasteries painted with 15th and 16th century frescoes of the life of Jesus, portraits of saints, angels and demons. They are reckoned to be masterpieces of late Byzantine art. Seven of the churches are UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, the best ones to see are Patrauti, Probota, Humor, Suceava, Moldovita, Sucevita, and Voronet.