The Painted Churches of Northern Moldavia
By Vlad Bedros
European Architectural History Network Newsletter, No.3 (2008)
Introduction: When Moldavia joined the Byzantine Commonwealth at the beginning of the fifteenth century, monastic communities, seeking spiritual perfection in isolated valleys or clearings, benefitted from regular donations granted by the orthodox rulers who were eager to replicate the imperial tradition of the Christian prince as protector of the Church. The most respected spiritual centers, Neamţ and Bistriţa, attained a broader cultural relevance as intellectual centers with extensive libraries and workshops for exquisite calligraphy or embroidery. Soon many other communities flourished as well, alongside other pious foundations of the political elite – the cathedral in Suceava, parish churches and court chapels in other main cities or in boyars’ residences. Artistic patterns elaborated during the fifteenth century survived through the next one, giving birth to some of the most original interpretations of Late Byzantine art within the Post-Byzantine cultural heritage.