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