Moldovița Monastery and The Real Siege of Constantinople

After a six hour car ride (with several stops to enjoy marvelous views of the Rodna mountains) we pulled up to the entry of the Moldovița Monastery and hurried inside the gate.  As we had limited time, HOB and planned to focus on the monastery’s masterpiece: the fresco of The Siege of Constantinople.

A few tourists milled about the grounds, and unfortunately for us, a group of middle-aged Germans were camped out right in front of the The Siege of Constantinople.  No big deal–we decided to study the architecture and the rest of the fine exterior frescoes and check out The Siege of Constantinople once the Germans had moved on.  We returned to the fresco: no dice–it was still blocked by napping and texting Germans.  Okay, so we went inside the church for a while, returned to the fresco and there they were, the fresco-blocking Germans.  New plan: squeeze up in front the fresco-blockers and admire the paintings with sunburnt bald heads in the foreground.


Cover the fresco-blocking Germans with your thumb and admire this uniquely lovely Byzantine structure.   Built in 1532 by Stephen the Great in celebration of a victorious battle against the Turks, it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I especially love the open porch under the wide arches.


Fresco-blocking Germans, aka The Real Siege of Constantinople.


The Siege of Constantinople: Christians busting the chops of Turkish infidels.


Victorious Christians swaggering around the walls of Constantinople, flaunting their sacred icons.


Is this a suitable punishment for unrepentant fresco-blockers?


Actually, I think fresco-blockers deserve to have their beards yanked by golf club-wielding devils.



East-facing view.


Here’s the South facing facade (the North facade is mostly faded out).

Wassup with the Gothic window?


The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina were what originally attracted me to visit Romania but it looked as if we’d have to miss them on our trip.  (Getting to Northeastern Romania from Maramureș via public transportation can be done, but not in the time we had available.)  Miraculously, Florin, the host from our guest house in Vadu Izei, said he could drive us.

It was a bit of a rushed visit, but I’m so very happy we had a chance to see three of these monasteries, fresco-blockers or no.


The red and golden colors of the frescoes are particularly vivid and delightful.



Just chillaxing in a pink cup, no big deal.


siege11 siege9


God creating Eve out of Adam’s phallic belly.


These hairy critters were all over the roads.


How we got to Moldovița Monastery: Florin from Casa Muntean drove us.

Where we slept: Hotel Residenz.  Price: €31.50 for a double.  Recommended: yes.




  1. I’ve never seen a church with the frescos (frescoes? I never know) on the outside! How fun! Minus the Germans. The devil looks to me like he’s holding a wooden spoon, as if he’s about to wrap these men on the knuckles and then stew them.

    Are frescos/frescoes on the outer walls common in Romania?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know–I was amazed to see exterior frescoes and it’s hard to believe how well-preserved they are!

      As far as I know, this is the only region in Romania where the churches have frescoes on the outer walls and eight of them are UNESCO sites. We saw three and I hope some day to see them all.


      1. They’re stunning! I hope you post more pictures from the others.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d heard of the monasteries…but never thought to see them…aren’t they just fantastic! Thank you so much for these photographs.
    It would have been easier if the Germans had reverted to type and just left their towels on the bench to reserve their places…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even though they are called monasteries, nuns live there. We stumbled in on a service at the last one we visited and it was lovely.

      I wouldn’t have minded the men there if they were actually looking at the building…..


  3. I’d like to have heard the service in that setting…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Darned tourists! It is interesting that the south facing wall still has its paint and the north has not. Usually the sun fades the south side…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, I don’t get that either. Could be something specific to the climate in that region.


  5. Devils often appear in the outside frescoes throughout Moldavia, particularly in humorous counterpoints describing how entertaining faithless life can really be and what a hell of a party is there, in hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you visited the Voronet monastery arranger? That one has this sort of crowded waiting room of people waiting to go to heaven, with their halos all jostling each other. Hell looks like a lot more fun,,,,


      1. Voronet is the best, I think, everyone thinks. The painters for the outside walls are actually amateurs from the therefore more inventive, he-he. decorators’ guild. In fact, there is only one old word in Romanian for “decorator” and “painter”. They usually depict hell as happy as their local pub.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. On the question of why paint the outside walls, the church has to be both, an indoors and an outdoors space: the Greek orthodox tradition does not allow for grandiose buildings, churches must stay small, modest and down-to-earth, close to people. Yet there are times of the year when the entire village turns up, as it is the case at Easter (more important than Christmas). Everybody comes at midnight holding candles and the priest comes out to hold the service and impart light from his candle, which they then carry back religiously into their homes.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Fantastic. Thanks so much. I love traveling with you guys. How on earth did thes frescos stay in such beautiful condition? Amazing. Wish you shared more photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you bappel2014. I have no idea how those frescos stay so vivid after 500 years–they don’t seem to be restored. It’s really quite astounding.

      We have more pictures from a nearby monastery, so stayed tuned!


  7. What a beautiful find! Did you get to see the inside; was it as wonderfully detailed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi hhirtle–yes, we did go inside, though we found out after my husband took a few photos that pictures were not allowed indoors. Oops! It was quite lovely inside too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This church was beautiful and I enjoyed your article, too. I want my house frescoed in the same manner on the outside. It gives a whole new perspective on how to get curb appeal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too–maybe we can fresco our entire apartment building?


  9. I’m curious whether the frescoes in the Church (well, technically, outside I guess) depict the most famous 1453 Siege of Constantinople. Constantinople is one of those cities that has centuries of sieges under its belt and it’s possible that the frescoes show the 860 Siege by the Rus Caliphate which was beaten back by the Byzantines and their Bulgarian allies. If you look at the fresco detail you posted, a man with a halo is holding an icon of the Christ child and the Madonna. There is a legend associated with the icon – called the Blachernitissa – that it was the Icon which saved the city from the pagans. Subsequently, a beautiful Church was built to house it. Ironically, after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the icon ended up in Moscow and is also credited with saving the Russians (the Christian descendants of the Rus) from Tartars! Also, the sheet with the picture of Christ on it is the so called “Image of Edessa” credited for saving the city from the Persians in 544. In 1202, during the Fourth Crusade, it was reportedly looted by the French crusaders and ended up in the royal collection, disappearing (most likely destroyed) during anti-clerical violence in the French Revolution. So to sum up… lots of icons and lots of sieges!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the information about the icons depicted in the frescoes, correspondentstefan. I’m sure you know more about this than me–though my sense is the Siege of Constantinople of Moldovita is a revisionist history-fantasy: a montage of the 626, 860 and 1443 sieges with a hefty dose of propaganda thrown in for flavor.


  10. The Church of B;achernitissa derived it’s name from the Vlach/Romanians:

    “Blachernitissa (Greek: Βλαχερνίτισσα), also called Theotokos of Blachernae (Θεοτόκος των Βλαχερνών, Θεοτόκος η Βλαχερνίτισσα) or Our Lady of Blachernae (Παναγία η Βλαχερνίτισσα), is a 7th-century encaustic icon representing the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. It is also the name given to the Church built in honour of the Virgin Mary in the Blachernae section of Constantinople. The name Blachernae possibly derived from the name of a Vlach (sometimes written as Blach or Blasi), who came to Constantinople from the lower Danube”


  11. Blachernitissa (Greek: Βλαχερνίτισσα), also called Theotokos of Blachernae (Θεοτόκος των Βλαχερνών, Θεοτόκος η Βλαχερνίτισσα) or Our Lady of Blachernae (Παναγία η Βλαχερνίτισσα), is a 7th-century encaustic icon representing the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. It is also the name given to the Church built in honour of the Virgin Mary in the Blachernae section of Constantinople. The name Blachernae possibly derived from the name of a Vlach (sometimes written as Blach or Blasi), who came to Constantinople from the lower Danube

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the information, Nick. We did go to Istanbul, but I’m afraid we must have missed this church. It’s fascinating to think about the interchange of cultures during this era.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: