The 2 “Meteora” monasteries of Romania
Few people know that Valcea country, in Romania, has the largest number of shrines and monasteries in all of the country, being rightfully named the Athos of Romania. But even fewer people know that, in Valcea, there are 2 “Meteora” monasteries. These two, absolutely divine, monasteries, seems to be the projection of Eden of Earth. They are 2 monasteries built high up on a mountain ledge, which seem to unite the sky and rock with
their unique position.
Most probably, God sent His angels to lay the foundation of the two holy places, and it seems that the angels also the ones to ring the church bells. These 2 monasteries have something very different about them, their age. One dates back to the time of the Wallachian king, Matei Basarab (more than 500 years ago), when he decided to donate this land to the church. The other one is new, built in honor of the souls which left this Earth too soon.
The first one is Arnota Monastery
The tourists who choose to travel across the Horezu depression and pass along Costesti village are always surprised by a white building, which seems to stick out of the Buia Mountain, in the heart of the Parang mountain chain. Situated on the edge of a rock quarry, on a small plateau, Arnota is one of the few monasteries built at almost 1000 meters altitude, a true work of art from the time of King Matei Basarab.
About Arnota, the former Archbishop of Ramnic, Gherasim Cristea, said that “it is the last step towards God. it is the highest place (literally and figuratevly). There is a bell which, when it rings, splits the sky in half, as if the world’s creation were to start.”
The road to Arnota is one that meanders up slowly, along the quarry and leaves behind the Bistrita river valley, a river which has carved into the mountains some of the narrowest gorges of Romania.
Before entering the monastery grounds, from the nearby forest, the view and panorama, going all the way over the Magura Slatioarei village, is simply breathtaking. One can see the quaint and humble landscapes, the old steam train track and the imposing towers of the Bistrita Monastery. beyond them, the humble view of the Costesti village, with its old traditional, imposing mountain houses.
Arnota Monastery if not a very big one, but it resembles a medieval fortress, a true fortification of a rock, with thick walls, much like the medieval churches and fortifications of Transylvania. It is, as small but as beautiful. The peace of this place, of the mountain top, confirms the words of the former archbishop. It is a place which brings you closer to God, but not just because of the altitude. This time of year, a garden filled with autumn flowers, archways which carry every whisper, a few monks, which walk as if they would float…it all makes the place seem to stand still in the passing of time.
The second one if on the Roman Peak
At over 1400 meters altitude, the church was built by Dumitru Crestin in honor of the daughter, who passed away at only 25 years old. It was finished just 2 years ago. it is, as many say, a Brancovenesc jewel, as its creator desired for it to resemble all the other ones of Valcea county.
From the monastery gardens you can the Parang mountain, but also the brand new resort, built all around this new marvel. The locals say that this place is where the angels sleep at night.
But don’t take our word for it. Come and visit them, these 2 unique places of Romania….and two of the most beautiful.