Gura Humorului, Romania (24th of January 2006)

Wednesday 24th of January 2006
I arrived to Suceava at about 7.00am in the morning. I wasn’t very impressed my the cold. it was bitter. I mean I did not want to leave the cold train. Without doubt, the coldest day since I stated this trip. Vey countryish town, in that most people were rough looking (in a rural sense – wearing wellingtons). My first impression was a farming area. I headed straight to the ticket counter and asked for a ticket to Gura Humorului. Gura humorului is located 17 km from suceava.

No problem – just 35,000 lei. One thing was it said: Gura Humorului Ostrad on the ticket. i thought that was a staion outside of town – past the main station. I did not have long to wait for the train which are quite frequent. It was a cold journey and I wondered whether I should stay in Suceava for not. An hour passed and I was a station called Gura Humorului and I mistakenly got off. It was the middle of nowhere. Just one bulding in the middle of the countryside. no town, nada. It took me 10 minutes walking past a timber factory before I got to a road. Left or right. Left or right.

Mistake number 2: I went left for about 2km and I asked directions at a service station. They pointed back where I came from. Now, I had not minded the cold up until now. I rather enjoyed the change in temperatures and the picturesque snow, but I was frozen. I had never been so cold in my life.. even with gloves, balaclava, good coat etc.I had no feeling in my right thumb and my toes felt like blocks of nice. I had two pairs of pants on, two pairs of socks. Every time I breated out ice appeared on the balaclava. The hair within my nostrils had frozen. Seriously, I felt my nose block up with ice.

I turned back the way I came and tryed to hitch a lift into town without any luck. Its a smallish towna nd there wasnt much traffic that time of the morning. On my way abck in .. about 3km… I came accross 2 different fields full of garden gnomes (gnomes). I think they were pointed towards a Manger (where Christ was laid after birth). I am unsure. I only took a few shots asmy hands and fingers were too numb to press the shutter.





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

he first garden gnomes were introduced to the United Kingdom in 1847 by Sir Charles Isham, when he brought 21 terracotta figures back from a trip to Germany and placed them as ornaments in the gardens of his home, Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire. Only one of the original batch of gnomes survives: Lampy as he is known, is on display at Lamport Hall, and is insured for one million pounds.

Garden gnomes have become a popular accessory in many gardens, although they are not loved by all. They are often the target of pranks: people have been known to return garden gnomes “to the wild”, most notably France’s “Front de Liberation des Nains de Jardins” and Italy’s “MALAG” (Garden Gnome Liberation Front). Some kidnapped garden gnomes have been sent on trips around the world (the travelling gnome prank).

A sub-culture exists among those who collect garden gnomes, which is frequently lampooned in popular culture.

Garden gnomes were made in various poses and pursuing various pastimes, such as fishing or gardening. More recently, garden gnomes have been depicted indulging in indecent exposure or having sex.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

The first garden gnomes were introduced to the United Kingdom in 1847 by Sir Charles Isham, when he brought 21 terracotta figures back from a trip to Germany and placed them as ornaments in the gardens of his home, Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire. Only one of the original batch of gnomes survives: Lampy as he is known, is on display at Lamport Hall, and is insured for one million pounds.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

The first garden gnomes were introduced to the United Kingdom in 1847 by Sir Charles Isham, when he brought 21 terracotta figures back from a trip to Germany and placed them as ornaments in the gardens of his home, Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire. Only one of the original batch of gnomes survives: Lampy as he is known, is on display at Lamport Hall, and is insured for one million pounds.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

Gnome World Domination is a cult effort to propel gnomes into positions of social power

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

Maybe the knomes were rescued. The Garden Gnome Liberation Fronts (GGLF) are organizations that stand for the liberation of garden gnomes. The most famous is the Front de Libération des Nains de Jardin (based in France), the creator of the world movement. Another famous and important group is the Movimento Autonomo per la Liberazione delle Anime da Giardino (based in Italy) the most organized and impressive organization. They claim a better place than a small garden for the garden gnomes, hoping a coming back to the Nature and the magic world of the wood. The European Gnome Sanctuary in Barga,Tuscany, Italy (open since 1999) has been a place of refuge for all freedom loving gnomes.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

Some websites relating to Knome rescue include :

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

I continue on my walk frozen and once I got close to town I popped into a cafe for a hot chocolate for 8,000 lei. I at down and warmed up. I then continued into town. It seems the painted churches in this district atract alot of tourists during the summer. I got this advice from Alex on Virtual tourist Forum..

“First, Bucovina is the name of the region the monasteries lie in, Suceava is the name of a city there. A few of the monasteries can be visited on the cheap by using public transportation: take a train (a few trains a day) from Suceava towards Cluj or vice versa and get off at Gura Humorului. In front of the railway station there usually are independent (i.e. not working for a travel agency and often cheaper) drivers which organize tours to the monasteries. You can ask them for a tour and see what the price is. If it is too high, walk straight until you meet the main road. To the left, 5 minutes later you will meet a signpost showing the way to Voronet Monastery (4 km.). If – from the point where you met the main road from the station – you turn right, after 10 minutes you will reach the centre of the town; just from the small square in front of the Best Western there is a signpost showing the way to the left to Humor Monastery (6 km.). After visiting these two (of which Voronet is more interesting, take it as a personal point of view), you can also visit Moldovita Monastery; on the same Cluj – Suceava railway, take a train and get off at Vama (West of Gura Humorului), change for a local bogie and go to Vatra Moldovitei, where you can visit Moldovita Monastery; mind you there are only a couple of trains a day between Moldovita and Vama; from Moldovita there is a single early morning bus farther to Sucevita, possibly the most beautiful of them all, but you can also try to hitch-hike. Apart from these monasteries, you can also go to the less visited by foreigners, but nevertheless beautiful and a Mecca for Romanians given its history, to Putna Monastery, by local train from Suceava. Logistically speaking, I would go to Suceava, then from there to Putna, back to Suceava, on to Gura Humorului with the side trips to Humor and Voronet, then on to Vama and to Moldovita, then back and on to Cluj / Maramures, depending on your schedule.

Generally, time and effort-wise, I would pick Putna (as something different, even though not painted on the outside like the others), Voronet and Moldovita, with the possibility of also going to Sucevita hitching or by the 7 AM bus.

You can find a map of the area here. The town has a population of 15,837. According to a Wikipedia article the turning point in the town’s history was the disastrous fire of May 11, 1899 which destroyed most of the town – more than 400 houses, including many Jewish businesses and homes.

I walked into town and then walked straight out the other side over the bridge in order to walk to Voronet Monastery (4 km.) I hitched a car and got a lift. Nice guy but I read some place even if you get a lift in Romania you are still expected to pay 50% of what you would ahve paid by either bus or taxi so at the end of the journey, he asked for 10,000 lei. He did in a funny, kind way and with a laugh explaining the cost of petrola nd how much it would ahve cost by taxi. I was happy to give it in this cold. anyway this monastry is pretty famous and even has its own Romanian Stamp.

Vorone? is a monastery in Romania, found near the town of Gura Humorului. It is one of the famous painted monasteries, found in southern Bucovina, now in the povince of Suceava, close to the border with Moldova. Often known as the “Sistine Chapel of the East”, the frescos at Vorone? feature an intense shade of blue known in Romania as “Vorone? blue”.The monastery was established in 1488, with St. George the Martyr as its patron saint. The exterior paintings were made in 1547. It remained a working monastery until the start of Habsburg rule in 1785, and only became a religious retreat again after the fall of communism in 1991. The tomb of the monastery’s first abbot, St. Pious Daniil the Hermit is found at the monastery.





Voronet Monastery, Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

y the will of a Gracious God, through the prayers of Sf. Pious Daniil the Hermit and the zeal of the good and faithful Voievode (Prince) Stephen the Great, the Voronet Monastery was raised up, between the 26th of May and the 14th of September in the year 1488, with St. George the Martyr as its patron saint.

In 1547, under the supervision of the Metropolitan bishop Grigore Rosca (whose tomb can now be found here), the porch was added and all the exterior paintings were carried out. From the very beginning of its history, the monastery was blessed with montks of extremely high spiritual calibre, and in the time of St. Pious Daniil the Hermit it was a true example of Romanian hermitage. Monastic life at Voronet was interrupted in 1785 due to the annexation of Bucovina to the Hapsburg Empire, and it became a working monastery again only in 1991, with the arrival of a community of nuns. Under the abbacy of their Mother Superior Irina Pantescu, this new community strives to harmoniously combine a religious life of prayer and workship with housekeeping and farm work, running a painting workshop and provinding guided tours of the monastery for visitors.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Voronet Monastery, Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

Voronet is considered by many to be the “Sistine Chapel of the East”, due to the magnificient frescoes on the west wall, a representation of the “Last Judgement”. In addition, “Voronet Blue” has been added to the lexicon of art alongside colours such as the “Titan Ted” of Rubens and “VeroneseGreen”, by specialists who consider it unique. On this blue background can be found the “Tree of Jesse”, or the genealogy of Redeemer Jesus Christ. Greco-latin philosophers are depiected in the borders to the left and right: Aristotle and Plato being amongst the better known philosophers that can be found there, and to the side on the apse the eye is drawn to a beautiful representation of St. Onufrie The Hermit.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Voronet Monastery, Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

The paintings in the porch represent the Christian Orthodox Calendar. Many of the icons here bear graffiti-names and scratches- the scars that remain after the 206 years of the monastery„s disuse. Above the entrance, in the narthex, lies a superb icon – “Dulcea Imbratisare” (the Sweet Embrace”) and directly above it, an inscription in stone names the monastery„s founded and the date it was raised.

The tomb of St. Pious Daniil the Hermit, who became the first Abbot of Voronet monastery can also be found in the narthex, watched over by a burning flame.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Voronet Monastery, Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

The paintings in the porch represent the Christian Orthodox Calendar. Many of the icons here bear graffiti-names and scratches- the scars that remain after the 206 years of the monastery„s disuse. Above the entrance, in the narthex, lies a superb icon – “Dulcea Imbratisare” (the Sweet Embrace”) and directly above it, an inscription in stone names the monastery„s founded and the date it was raised.

The tomb of St. Pious Daniil the Hermit, who became the first Abbot of Voronet monastery can also be found in the narthex, watched over by a burning flame.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Voronet Monastery, Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

mong the most picturesque treasures of Romania are the painted churches located in Bucovina, many of which are protected by UNESCO as part of humankind’s world heritage.

These richly decorated houses of worship are “albums” of fresco art that have survived the elements since the 15th century. The Voronet Monastery Church in Bucovina, founded in 1488 by Stephen the Great, is widely known throughout Europe as “the Sistine Chapel of the East,” because of its interior and exterior wall pa intings, which offer an abundance of blue-chromatic frescoes featuring a color that has come to be known as Voronet blue. The frescoes of this church and many other painted churches in the Bucovina region illustrate biblical scenes, prayers, episodes of sacred hymns and themes such as The Last Judgment and The Ladder of St. John, all variously featuring the colorful and detail-rich imagery of apostles, evangelists, philosophers, martyrs, angels and demons. Beside their vivid frescoes the painted monasteries are famous for the original way of depicting beliefs or events: Sucevita with its unique ?Ladder of Virtue?; Humor, featuring the devil amusingly depicted as a woman, and Moldovita, where a monumental scene of the Siege of Constantinopole is displayed.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

I did not have to pay any entrance. The door on the exterior wall was open. There was a shop and reception inside which was also empty. i think it may be 50,000 and another 25,000 if you have a camera. I walked around the site, feeling a bit guilty about walking in unannounced. i was the only person there. after 20 minutes, I simply walked out again. Noone there.

I found a new article in the Washington Post about the monastries. Hee are exerpts:

Afterward, we drove the few miles south to Voronet, the oldest of the monasteries. It has been dubbed the “Sistine Chapel of the East,” and the comparison does Michelangelo credit. Swathed in a satiny indigo known as “Voronet blue,” it was the most beautiful church I’d ever seen.

The famous blue derives from lapis lazuli stones imported from Egypt, explained Slemco, whom we’d hired for our last day in Bucovina. As with the other monasteries, the formula for creating the exterior colors died with the painters, so the frescoes can never be repainted — when a piece fades or flakes off, it is gone.

Slemco talked us through the Orthodox calendar painted just inside the entryway. He showed us the altar with its icon of God holding a Moldavian scarf, representing the universe. With the skies darkening, he hurried me to the west wall to show me the “Last Judgment,” Voronet’s — and Bucovina’s — masterwork.

All the monasteries have apocalypse frescoes, but Voronet’s is the most overwhelming, and seemingly the one designed to elicit the fiercest identification from its intended audience of peasants and warriors. Angels sound the final call on a bucium, a local shepherd’s horn, and send turban-headed sinners tumbling toward a beastly Satan. The apostles watch from a grandstand of Romanian thrones as Jesus weighs souls, with Turks and Tatars prominent among those awaiting judgment. Everybody gets a shot at salvation, Slemco said, describing this image as an olive branch extended to unbelievers and enemies of the state.”

Anyway, I walked back into town – another cold 4km and tried to find the real railway station … without success. i even followed the lines. Where was the bloody thing. I then walked out at least 6km to what I felt was the road to Humor Monasry – no luck and I got lost but it was enjoyable. Men spread waste on horse and cart, women washed clothes in the field by ahnd. Very absic rural life here. I then saw a sight I will never forget. Three horse and carrts were on the way up the road towards me. I wish I took out my camera or had a cmcorder. There was no driver on the first and second horse and cart. The horses simply went by dragging their loads. On the 3rd cart, 3 people were laid out in the back. Two were drinking heavily, the third slumped out ont he back. Totally wasted. It was amazing!!

Anyway, i headed abck into towna nd took a few snaps!!





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

Drive through the scenic Prislop Pass to Bucovina, the land of the famous painted churches and monasteries and pristine landscapes. On the way to Gura Humorului town, admire the superb wooden architecture of the Barsana Monastery and the 18th century Rozavlea wooden church, with its beautifully preserved interior paintings.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

Drive through the scenic Prislop Pass to Bucovina, the land of the famous painted churches and monasteries and pristine landscapes. On the way to Gura Humorului town, admire the superb wooden architecture of the Barsana Monastery and the 18th century Rozavlea wooden church, with its beautifully preserved interior paintings.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

Drive through the scenic Prislop Pass to Bucovina, the land of the famous painted churches and monasteries and pristine landscapes. On the way to Gura Humorului town, admire the superb wooden architecture of the Barsana Monastery and the 18th century Rozavlea wooden church, with its beautifully preserved interior paintings.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

Drive through the scenic Prislop Pass to Bucovina, the land of the famous painted churches and monasteries and pristine landscapes. On the way to Gura Humorului town, admire the superb wooden architecture of the Barsana Monastery and the 18th century Rozavlea wooden church, with its beautifully preserved interior paintings.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

Yes, I was bloody cold!!

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

No horse and carts allowed!!

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Gura Humorului, Romania

Taken on the 24th of January 2006

Drive through the scenic Prislop Pass to Bucovina, the land of the famous painted churches and monasteries and pristine landscapes. On the way to Gura Humorului town, admire the superb wooden architecture of the Barsana Monastery and the 18th century Rozavlea wooden church, with its beautifully preserved interior paintings.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

When i got back to town from my lost wandering, I tried to find a place to eat when sudendly I saw a train come into town. I basically ran after it until I found the elusive train station hidden behind houses. When I saw the train I followed it and there it was behind a big fense and row of houses – the railway station. The train was just about to go and I didnt have a ticket, but the conductor just told me to get on. Gura Humorului was fine if you just after the churches and a little bit of rural life. The place is full of places to stay – I mean over a hundred pensions at least. So off I went back to Suceava.