Tag Archives: Bucharest

Facing East in Prayer

Rom21-052920 When I arrived in Sinaia, the falling snow was an unexpected touch. The fresh snow drifting down so gently covered the southern range of the Carpathian mountains.

This monastery was built by King Carol I in the late 19th century


The Virgin is enthroned in the apse.

Gazing heavenward

This is where the cantors chant the liturgy.

Although there is a new church, the monastic church was founded by Mihail Cantacuzino in the late 17th century after he returned from a pilgrimage to mount Sinai, hence the name, Sinaia.

This is the porch with the traditional Last Judgement.

The icon screen

Gazing Heavenward

Gazing Heavenward

The eyes of the Virgin Mary under whose protection I have placed myself as I travel, search deeply into the soul of those who enter the temple of her Son. This will be the final image of the Virgin I will see on my journey into the artistic heritage of the Romanian people, rooted in the Christian faith. This image will remain in my mind as I begin my journey to central Asia to journey a little bit on the Silk Road on which so much cultural interaction occurred.

The church in Bucharest that evoked a powerful spiritual emotion within me was the Stavropoleos.  The monastic church which today is the heart of the life of prayer of the sisters who live there makes me realize how important prayer is at the heart of the city.  I would like to share with you what I found striking.

   Icon screens always appeal to me because they speak of the mystery of the Mass.

My eye always turns to the all-powerful Christ because it reminds me I must stand before him and render an account of my life.

The icon of the Virgin draws me to prayer. The greatest impression on me has been the very careful way in which people make the sign of the cross three times and then venerate the icons. I have seen people bless themselves three times as they walk in front of the church. I have even begun to do that! The sign of the cross is so ancient and the people of the cross should take deep spiritual consolation in that through the cross joy has come into the world. The greatest gift I have been given through the public piety of the Romanian people is a renewed sense of the beauty of the sign of the cross.


 The roadside shrines dedicated to the cross abound and not just a cross but a cross with the image of Our Lord.

And people even place the cross on the apex of the roofs of their home. The cross is the sign of the victory of truth.

Hidden Gems of Bucharest

This morning to continue celebrating Julian Easter I decided to enjoy another walk and listen for the sound of church chant that would lead me to prayer. The church reflected in the glass was consecrated on September 8, 1850 hence its name: The Birth of the Virgin Mary Church. The original structure from the 17th century was destroyed by an earthquake.

This is the interior of the church of the birth of Mary which is reflected in the glass of the building.

The chanting lead me back to the chapel that once was part of a medieval palace complex of Vlad Tepes who is often portrayed outside of Romania as Dracula. In Romania Vlad Tepes is a symbol of freedom in that despite his monaker the Impaler he defended Romania against the Islamic aggression of the Ottoman empire. The myth of Vlad Dracula and vampires has nothing to do with this man who led his people to resist aggression.

Buch-032155Here are the recently excavated ruins of his citadel that dates to mid 15th century.


As I walked I became even more attentive to the beauty of some wonderful architecture which stands in such stark contrast to the Soviet style which is out of proportion and just plain ugly.

I continued my walk to Unirii Square which testifies to the Communist dictator Ceaușescu’s plan for urban development. He destroyed much of old Bucharest in the process. I became intent on discovering a few churches that survived the demolition. This church survived and is hidden behind huge apartment complexes.

My next quest was to find vestiges of the old Jewish community in Bucharest which prior to the second world was thriving and strong in the city.

A Jewish synagogue, hidden, like the churches, by Ceaușescu block apartments.


Buch-042348And I found another church unexpectedly hidden by Communist block apartments. Saint Nicholas Church: what a find!

This is the Parliament which is another Ceausescu creation that amount to a multi million project undertaken in 1984.

Once again, the beautiful walled Saint Antim monastery of 1715 is hidden by Communist block housing.

This is a hidden work of beauty.
Buch-050305Stunningly beautiful

In the evening I attended an evening piano recital at the Athenaeum given by Vassilis Varvaresos.

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Easter Week Walk Through Bucharest

On this Easter Monday on the Julian calendar I decided I would enjoy an extensive walk. When I arrived I recalled that Bucharest was named the Paris of the East. On my drive in I was very perplexed why it would have been called that 70 years ago. I am beginning to discover that everywhere you look there are late 19th century buildings in various states of repair and disrepair, in a state of restoration or deterioration that withstood the destruction of Ceaușescu’s urbanisation plan that destroyed so much of the architectural patrimony of the city and the devastating earthquake in the ’70s. Everywhere I look there are beautiful 19th century buildings often times overshadowed by ugly socialist architecture.

On my long walk to the open air Romanian village museum I was struck by the many wonderful examples of domestic architecture from the 19th century. And the city is graced with grand boulevards and parks from the 19th century urban planning.

Notice the wonderful ceramic on this residence.









Since it was Easter Monday my morning walk was punctuated by visits to churches.  Once again the Mass was broadcast into the streets so I would hear the singing that would lead me to the next church.

Buch-020254This walk was on Victory Avenue which is broad and lined with beaautiful 19th century palaces and parks and good examples of domestic architecture. My lengthy walk today today has been an architectural feast for the eye.

These are some photos from the open-air ethnological museum which was established in the mid-1930s. They took various homes and churches from all over Romania that date back to the 18th and 19th century and assembled them in this museum.

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In the afternoon I continued my walk through parks and enjoyed the botanical gardens.  On Easter Monday and Tuesday the city is very quiet and many shops are closed so the parks are full of families enjoying Easter.

Celebrating Julian Easter in Bucharest

At the noon Angelus address today Our Holy Father extended his Easter greeting to those who follow the Julian calendar. So today was Easter Sunday morning for the Romanian orthodox. This made my morning walk in the narrow cobbled stone streets of the old city where tiny churches are tucked away very easy. Mass is broadcast into the streets so you follow the chant and find these exquisite jewels.

Kretzulescu Church

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Stavropoleos church. I could not get in; however it is beautiful.


Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary church, shown above, and here, reflected in modern glass.

Annunciation church, from the mid-16th century is one of the oldest in Bucharest. The church was part of the palace complex.

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Saints Emperors Constantine and Helen Patriarchal Cathedral, the Orthodox basilica in Bucharest.

Gazing Heavenward.