Archives May 2015

Weekend escapade: Chiajna Monastery

The site of the Chiajna Monastery, until recently abandoned, has given rise to plenty of urban legends, outside of its historical and architectural value. The site was even used as an escalating wall by training mountain climbers or as a screen set for various local music videos.

Located in the North West part of Bucharest, at the periphery of the Giulesti – Sarbi neighborhood, the monastery is a historical monument dating back to the 18th century. Its construction started during the reign of Prince Alexandru Ipsilanti and was finished during the time of Phanariot ruler Nicolae Mavrogheni (1786 – 1790). It is a neo-classical monument, impressive in size for the constructions of the time: 43 meters long and 17 meters wide, with walls as thick as 1-2 meters.

Chiajna MonasteryArchitecturally, the monastery is unique in the sense that it merges local and post-Bracovan architecture with neo-classical construction. Because of its fortress-looking aspect, it was bombed by the Ottoman army in 1814 and in 1821 it was completely abandoned to the ruin it is today. The monastery never accommodated a religious service as it was bombed before being consecrated. Despite its deterioration, the building survived several earthquakes and attempts to have it tore down as theft of bricks from the construction began to happen. The building of the railroad linking Bucharest to Craiova, which is about 30 meters away from the site, also weakened the structure of the monument.

Several attempts to restore the monastery were made between 1950 and 1970 but the site only deteriorated further as after 1977 when the ruins of the Bucharest that fell down at the earthquake were discarded nearby, at the former Chiajna garbage dump.  In 1993 a perimeter of 10,000 sqm was added to the monastery to support its restoration and in 2008 the monastery was reactivated as a religious site, carrying the name of Marry, Mother of God and of Saint John Jacob the Romanian. In 2012 a wooden church, designed after the model of the ones that can be found in Maramures, was built on the site and religious services began to be held there.

You can find the Chiajna Monastery at 172 Drumul Sabareni. The route there on Google Maps is available here.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Weekend escapade: Nucsoara village – nature & history

In Southern Central Romania sits the Nucsoara commune, often recognized as an idyllic place, still capturing the ways of a traditional local village. The commune is made up of four villages: Gruiu, Nucsoara, Sboghitesti and Slatina, all in Arges county, some 180 km from capital Bucharest.

It sits at the bottom of the Fagarasi mountains, at an altitude of 879 meters and the richness of landscapes that can be admired is only enhanced by the two peaks framing its borders: the Magura peak and the Varful Strungii peak, each at a height of approximately 1,000 meters. The Gruiu hill, covered with wide pastures and fruit trees, and the Neagului and Dealuri hills, heavy on beech and fir trees woods, are also in the vicinity. The place is perfect for hiking, mountain trailing or simply relaxing over a quiet weekend.

Besides its natural beauty, Nucsoara also stands out for its recent history, as one of the places hosting one of the tens of groups of resistance against communism. The anti-communist resistance began in 1945 and lasted for more than 20 years, some groups of isolated fighters making it into the 70s. The people enrolled in the resistance movement hid in the mountains and were hoping to intervene to change the regime in the event of a war between the UK – US alliance and the Soviet Union. The group in Nucsoara was the longest standing in the country.

There are a few villas in the area where you can check in and you can probably find a place as the tourist traffic is not very high, making Nucsoara perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Photographer Cezar Machidon recently captured the beauty of the place in the Spring in Nucsoara series.

To find Nucsoara on the map, and figure out your way there, check Google Maps here.

(Photo source: