If you didn’t know it’s there, the thick walls at 3 Schitul Dărvari Street would tell nothing about it. Although the name of the street makes it clear enough for a child to figure out the riddle, it is still hard to believe that this is a hermitage at the heart of the capital.
However many books and articles are being written about Bucharest, some places remain unknown by most passers-by and tourists, to the delight of hunters of urban hidden treasures. Regardless of religion, this hermitage is an oasis of tranquility for anyone to enjoy, just a couple of minutes away from the heavy traffic in Romană Square.
Schitul Dărvari was founded in 1834 in the central area of the city, near the Grădina Icoanei (Garden of the Icon in English) park. Some years later it hosted 12 nuns who cared for the church and sang at the offices. In 1864, the hermitage was closed, only to reopen five years later when Romanian monks returning from the famous Athos Mountain in Greece found shelter here. In 1933, Schitul Dărvari was restored by the grandson of the founder and the church was painted in fresco by Iosif Keber, in neo-Byzantine style. In 1959 the hermitage was closed by the communist authorities, leaving the hermitage to reopen only in 1996, after the fall of the communist regime.
Today, Schitul Dărvari is inhabited once again and has been officially declared a historical monument.
The gate of the hermitage opens every morning at 07:30 and closes in the evening at 19:30.
For those who want to listen to an Orthodox office, the church at the hermitage holds daily offices: in the morning, from 07:30 to 10:30, and in the evening, from 17:00 to 18:30.
Schitul Dărvari opened a frankincense workshop using the original recipe and technology from the monasteries at Athos Mountain in Greece. Frankincense (tămâie in Romanian, from thymanea in Latin) is used in all Orthodox rituals and symbolizes a gift offered to God as a sign of thankfulness. It is actually an aromatic resin of exotic trees of the genus Boswellia from India and South Arabia.
At Schitul Dărvari, you can find six fragrances: Bizantino, Pascalia, Athos, Bethleem, Jasmin, Gardenia and Rose. A 50 grams box costs RON 5 and a 10 grams box – RON 1.5.
Photo source: Schitul Dărvari official website