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Moldavia reunites a series of halidoms with a special history, churches and monasteries which continue their calling even today. Famous through their uniqueness and beauty, they represent genuine spiritual and cultural treasures. Set in a beautiful natural environment, protected by hills and forests and carefully taken care of by nuns and monks, the monasteries have their gates open for anyone looking for an oasis of quietness and introspection.


Throughout time, many stories speaking about the leaders of the nation and of their doings have accumulated in this old Romanian historical land, NeamÅ£ County. In the 15th century, Stephen the Great was raising his lordly residence here, founding many monasteries of priceless value. Built either to sustain the spiritual need of the Romanian people or as a sign of gratitude for winning battles, they also had a defense role, sheltering the locals during foreign attacks. Inside the yards and monasteries, you will see secret entrances, very small windows and solid walls. 

Greeting the tourists with an atmosphere of inner peace and humbleness, the monasteries in NeamÅ£ offer you the opportunity of a spiritual journey, one where you can find yourself again and rediscover life’s true values. Without making use of many words, the nuns and monks here are a lesson of devoutness and love for the people. In the wisely managed halidoms you will find accommodation and you will be able to taste wonderful monastery dishes. You will discover simple but elegant cells, at the windows of which colored flowers hang and a perfect quietness inviting you to meditate.

Be sure to include NeamÅ£ului Fortress in this tour of monasteries, whose white stone walls watch over the city. Piercing through the green carpet of the forest, it can be seen from a distance. Built in the 14th century by Petru I MuÅŸat and later consolidated by Stephen the Great, the fortification was part of Moldavia’s defense system. Resisting through troubled times, when it was attacked by the Magyars, the Ottomans and the Polish, pillaged by the Tartars, but rebuilt and consolidated, the fortress lost its military role in time. Presently, it carries on its history as a testimony of the Romanian people’s bravery and of the hardships it has overcome.

Furthermore, don’t hesitate to visit the ‘Ion CreangÓ‘’ Memorial House in Târgu NeamÅ£ and the theme park with scenes taken out from the author’s famous stories. You will discover the folk traditions, the inventiveness, the modesty and the simplicity of the Moldavian peasant.

Sihla - SihastriaVaratec


In a small depression at the foot of the mountain, situated in a surprising, picturesque place you will find Văratec Monastery, the heart of the dwelling place whose name it bears. The small village raised around the pillars of faith and inner peace has its skilled locals working around the halidom. Right from the entrance you can see the dedication with which the nuns take care of the monastery, the yard and the windows of the cell decorated with multicolored flowers.  Then, you will see nuns working in workshops, weaving carpets or church clothing, or preparing delicious syrups and jams. At VÓ‘ratec there is a permanent buzz, as the nuns are always ready to welcome guests, to offer advice or serve their wonderful dishes.

Founded by a nun called Olimpiada, the monastery was largely rebuilt after the devastating fire in 1900, which left behind only a stone wall, still visible today. The imposing church, with the two, round and white steeples combines the moldovenesc style with new elements, from the 18th and the 19th centuries. In the monastery’s museum there are numerous objects of worship, among them icon collections, wooden crosses and the Greek Evangeliarum printed at Venice in 1811. Close to VÓ‘ratec you can admire two splendid natural reservations: Codrii de AramÓ‘ (Copper Woods Reservation), a forest of secular oaks, and PÓ‘durea de Argint (The Silver Forest), a 200 year old silver birch forest.

At Văratec you actually feel people are more kind-hearted and welcoming, you have time to sink in yourself, and enjoy magnificent views which charge you with positive energy.







The little corner of heaven at Agapia is hidden in the mountains and surrounded by fir trees in a delightful monastery village. In summer, the flowers’ explosion of colors decorating the houses charms the tourists, and in winter, Agapia’s alleyways full of snow are seemingly taken out of a fairy tale. The traveler is presented with a wonderful scenery, as the yard of the monastery is defined by the geraniums hanging from the balconies of the cells, creating a powerful contrast with the white of the walls. An ancient cultural and religious home, a masterpiece of religious art, but also a priceless art treasury, Agapia invites you to discover its spirituality and enjoy the inner peace given by the closeness to divinity.

Raised in the 17th century, combining neo-byzantine and neo-classical elements with the Romanian tradition, the monastery was rebuilt after each foreign invasion. What impresses here is the mural painting executed by Nicolae Grigorescu. The bright icons, full of movement and realism, with a style influenced by the painters of the Renaissance turn Agapia into a real artistic jewelry. In his compositions, the painter used nuns and priests, peasants, children and other travelers who stopped at the monastery as models. The glow of the colors, the gracefulness of the movements, the simplicity of the line and the proportion of the shape are impressive.

Between its walls, Agapia keeps the coolness of the surrounding forest, the vigorous green of grass sweetened by the beautiful flowers and the good thoughts of the nuns who await you. Close to the monastery you can visit Alexandru Vlahuţӑ Memorial House, a typical Moldavian house, where the author often retreated in the company of other writers.





At the foot of Vasan Mountain, surrounded by fir trees, then by defense towers, and closed by thick walls, Secu Monastery presents itself as an imposing medieval citadel. The monastic residence stands out with its fortress aspect, with huge steeples piercing the green of the fir tree and beech forests. Along its 500 years of existence the monastery served as a place of worship, but it also had a defense role, sheltering the locals during foreign attacks. After passing through a high wooden gate, the tourist next sees a stately church with a rose alley leading to it.

Believers come to Secu in order to pray to the miracle performing icon of Virgin Mary. It is said that it changes its face: sometimes it’s brighter, other times darker. Furthermore, there is another icon in the pronaos whose story you will learn from the monks. During a Turkish invasion, one of the Turks wanted to destroy the icon, cutting it with the sword; the traces are visible today. The legend says the Turk fell dead on the spot, along with other soldiers guilty of invading the halidom. Many times overrun by the Ottomans in search of hidden treasures, Secu resisted the centuries, teaching the word of God to believers.




Sihastria – Sihla

At the edge of secular forests, protected from the harshness of winter and from the heat of summer, SihÓ‘stria Monastery reveals itself in all its beauty. Sheltered by smooth crests, it reminds of the battles fought to protect Moldavia. In the park full of shrubs and greenery, the silhouette of the church rises white and elegant, preserving the classic moldovenesc style, despite the numerous restorations. Standing out through the svelte steeple, the sober interior and the simple decorations, the church at SihÓ‘stria is the center of the bright dwelling place, bringing an overflow of happiness into your soul.

Uphill from this monachal jewel in Moldavia, hidden between rocks, there is Sihla skete, a place of prayer and pilgrimage. The most travelled foot path starting from SihÓ‘stria goes near Saint Theodora Cave, where a praying altar was raised. The view makes you think you’ve stepped into a world of fairytale; among the blackberry bushes you will be able to see the animals of the forest enjoying the sun rays which manage to pierce the tall thick fir trees. Sihla is attractive because it is recluse in the perfect quietness of the mountains, in a scenery which invites you to rest and meditate.





On the valley of the Nemţişor River, in a bright and lit glade, the rulers of Moldavia founded Neamţ Monastery, the biggest and oldest monachal dwelling place in the area. Attested by the local tradition at the end of the 14th century, the monastery continued its activity in serving the ancestral faith. The centuries of spiritual life, the history written by voivodes and the representative architecture give it an aura of legend.

The first monks who arrived here built a wooden church, later rebuilt in stone by Petru I MuÅŸat, who also entrusted the monastery with several villages and lands.  Other princes also took care of it, surrounding it with cells, towers and defense walls.  The church impresses with its elegance and the monumentality of the ensemble, blending tradition with history, culture with art. After you visit NeamÅ£ you are more content, more at peace with yourself and with those around you. Near the monastery you can visit Mihail Sadoveanu Memorial House and the DragoÅŸ Voda Bison Reservation, housing many specimens.





Bistriţa Monastery, the only voivode necropolis in Neamţ, welcomes you quietly, beyond the thick walls. Underneath the three level tower you step on the old guard road up to the monastery representative for the Romanian people and full of legends. Like Neamţ, it was first a wooden church raised by Petru I Muşat, replaced by a stone one, built by Alexander the Good and entrusted with many revenues. In the Moldavian Middle Ages, Bistriţa was one of the richest monasteries. You can still see the belfry raised by Stephen the Great in 1498 and the Lordly School from the 16th century, later turned into a museum, preserving its 800 kilogram bell decorated with the mighty coat of arms of Moldavia.

Until the beginning of the 19th century, the monastery knew a long period of estrangement and was robbed of much of its patrimony. With Alexandru Ioan Cuza’s reign, the Greek monks leave the halidom, which becomes a cultural and Orthodox center once again. Alexandru the Good, his wife, Ana and the historian Grigore Ureche are buried here. The tired traveler will learn all these stories standing on the wooden benches in the yard, at the shade of the apple trees, listening to memorable stories about the bravery of the Romanian people.



In RÓ‘zboieni commune, on the left of the Valea Alba Brook, there is a monastery with the same name, representing the proof of the sacrifice spirit and of the country’s fight to keep the Romanian spirit alive. Raised after Stephen the Great’s victory in 1476, the bones of the free holders who fought to protect Moldavia rest in the monastery’s yard cemetery.

The monastery’s church, combining the gothic and the moldovenesc styles, lacking exterior and interior paintings, looks like a feudal mausoleum. The only spots of color on the grey walls are the green disks aligned under the large eaves. On the now quiet hills once raided by the Ottoman troops, you can hear beautiful church songs and bells calling the people to the sermon.

Monasteries in Neamt

Each hill and glade in Neamţ is crossed by rivers coming down from the mountain and by much trampled on trails connecting the sacred monasteries. Hiking in nature, through rich and cool woods represents a journey into your own soul. Away from temptations and the grimness of everyday life, these halidoms can help you come to terms with yourself and the world around you. Genuine lessons of tradition, culture and faith, the monasteries in Moldavia, surrounded by amazing natural beauties, will fill you with heavenly grace and inner peace.

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]