Barsana: Manastirea Barsana (Barsana Monastery)

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Bârsana Monastery – nun convent dedicated to “The Saints 12 Apostles”

The wooden churches from Maramures (north of Transylvania) are the beautiful synthesis of the major architectural elements of Eastern and Western Europe, synthesis of the Byzantine plan and the Gothic forms rendered according to an original autochthonous architectural interpretation. In a rich country, blessed with forests, the wood offers the possibility for everyone to become artists and Maramures region is famous for its wooden churches but also for the wooden gates. The wooden churches with their tall steeples are representative symbols for the landscape in Maramures.

The village of Bârsana, one of the most important villages in the valley of the Iza River in Maramureş was first attested in 1326 (when King Charles Robert I of Anjou acknowledged and reinstalled by a deed in this places prince Stanislau, son of Stan Bârsan). Bârsana became famous for the wooden church, which now stands on a small hill surrounded by an orchard near the cemetery with old graves full of grass, which is one of the eight churches on the UNESCO World Heritage List from Maramures and one of the most beautiful monasteries in Romania. The name “bârsan” means a shepherd who keeps sheep with thick long wool, and the word became a surname during medieval times.

 The orthodox Bârsana Monastery, convent for nuns and devoted to Synaxis of the holy, glorious and all-praised Twelve Apostles, on June 30, existed for centuries. A document dated on 6 November 1405 mentions a field of the monastery. The existing church was built in 1711 with interior paintings done in 1806 by local artists Hodor Toader and Ion Plohod according to an inscription in the naos. The paintings were done on pieces of textile fixed on the walls and covered with a preparatory layer of lime wash, as was usual during that period. The scenes, especially in the naos and the chancel, have been influenced by baroque and rococo styles, which started to spread in Transylvania during the last quarter of the 18th century. The painter has used medallions for the scenes on the walls, but the vault of the naos is treated without any constraints. The luminous feeling is created by the dominating colors of white, blue, red and golden ochre. The frescoes are very similar to those of the painted monasteries of Moldavia. It was especially the quality of the paintings that concluded the inclusion of this church in the World Heritage List.

The legend says that the monastery originally stood across the river Iza, in the Slatina Valley, and that it was moved later to the right of the river, on The Monastery Bridges. The church’s plan includes: the gate, the narthex and the nave, with a rectangular form, adding the altar’s apse; the exterior seems like a hall, but the inside is divided into separated walls according to the traditional Orthodox ritual. The narthex is very narrow, with low ceiling and with flats over the girders. It is separated by a central door, having no windows. The interior frescoes are very similar to those of the painted monasteries of Moldavia. This Wooden Church is the only one with double cornice, the Old Monastery, the tallest wooden building in Europe (57 meters tall). 

The church is very dark inside. The very small and low pronaos has not any windows. The naos is much more spacious, with a high barrel vault, but also here not much light enters. On top of the pronaos rises the tower, which is not extremely tall, but still gives a graceful air to the whole. In front of the west façade, there is a porch on two levels, each with pillars that form rounded arches. The porch was added in 1900. The roof with two eaves covers the main part of the church, while the roof covering the chancel is lower and with only single eaves. The heavy roof is supported by consoles, the ends of the upper beams of the walls, cut to decorative shapes. A carved twisted rope goes around the church just under the small windows.

The naos is much more spacious, with a high barrel vault, but also here not much light enters. There is one bigger window low down on the south and north walls, and two smaller ones on each wall, high up between the two eaves of the roof. The chancel is again a lower space with three small windows, one to the north, east and south each. The windows are still very small, even if they were enlarged in 1900, at the same time than the porch was added. Due to this, the mural paintings around the windows were destroyed.

In the church, the men occupy the pews or stand in front of the altar with the young girls in front of them, often around the altar. Young boys fill the balcony while the women, and girls over fifteen years of age, sit or stand in the narthex. Older women sit outside on the benches attached to the walls of the church.

The church was manually carved by some of the most talented craftsmen from Maramures. No power tools or nails were used to put this impressive construction together. The monastic compound is made of wood as well, according to the local tradition. Only Barsana craftsmen are building the compound. Today anyone can admire the Maramures gate, the belfry, the church, the summer shire, the house with cells and chapel, the house of the masters, the house of the artists and a more recently arranged museum portraying the Maramures history, culture and civilization.

Mănăstirea Bârsana – mănăstire de maici cu hramul “Soborul Sfinților 12 Apostoli”

Bisericile din lemn din Maramures (nordul Transilvaniei) reprezinta o superba sinteza a principalelor elemente arhitecturale ale Estului si Vestului Europei, sinteza planului bizantin si a formelor gotice imbinate in urma unei interpretari originale arhitecturale autohtone. Intr-o tara bogata, binecuvantata cu paduri, lemnul oferea posibilitatea pentru fiecare sa devina artist iar regiunea Maramures este vestita pentru bisericile sale din lemn dar si pentru portile din lemn maramuresene. Bisericile din lemn cu clopotnitele lor inalte sunt simboluri reprezentative pentru peisajul din Maramures.

Satul Bârsana, unul din cele mai importante sate de pe valea raului Iza din Maramureş a fost atestata pentru prima oara in 1326 (cand Regele Carol Robert I de Anjou l-a numit si reinstalat printr-o hotarare in acest loc pe printul Stanislau, fiul lui Stan Bârsan). Bârsana a devenit celebra pentru biserica din lemn, care acum se inalta pe un mic deal inconjurate de o livada langa un cimitir cu morminte vechi acoperite cu iarba, si care este una din cele opt biserici din Maramures incluse in patrimoniul mondial UNESCO si este una din cele mai frumoase manastiri din Romania. Numele de “bârsan” semnifica un cioban care isi tine oile cu lana groasa pe ele, iar acest cuvant a devenit o porecla in timpurile medievals.

Manastirea ortodoxa Bârsana, manastire pentru maici si dedicata Sfântului, Slăvitului și a toate Lăudatului Sobor al celor Doisprezece Apostoli, pe 30 Iunie, exista de secole. Un document datat pe 6 Noiembrie 1405 mentiona un teren al manastirii. Biserica existenta a fost construita in 1711 cu picturile interioare realizate in 1806 de artistii locali Hodor Toader si Ion Plohod conform unei inscriptii din naos. Picturile au fost realizate pe bucati de textile si fixate pe pereti si acoperite cu un strat preparator de var stins, asa cum era uzual in acea perioada. Scenele, in special din naos si altar, au fost influentate de stilurile baroc si rococo, care incepusera sa se raspandeasca in Transilvania in timpul ultimului sfert al secolului 18. Pictorii au folosit medalioane pentru scenele de pe pereti, dar bolta naosului este realizata fara nici un fel de constrangeri. Sentimentul de luminozitate este creat de dominatia culorilor alb, albastru, rosu si galben auriu ocru. Frescele sunt foarte similare acelora de la manastirile pictate din Moldova. In special calitatea acestor picturi a determinat inclderea acestei biserici in lista Patrimoniului Mondial.

Legenda spune ca manastirea la inceput se afla langa raul Iza, in valea Slatina, si a fost mutata ulterior in dreapta raului, la Podurile Manastirii. Planul bisericii include: poarta, narthexul si nava, cu forma rectangulara, la care se adauga absida altarului; exteriorul pare ca o hala, dar interiorul este divizat de ziduri de separare asa cum este ritualul traditional ortodox. Nartexul este foarte ingust, cu tavanul jos si cu spatii (pod) deasupra grinzilor. Este separat de o usa centrala, si nu are deloc ferestre. Frescele din interior sunt foarte similare celor din manastirile pictate din Moldova. Aceasta Biserica din Lemn este singura cu cornișă dubla, Vechea Manastire fiind cea mai inalta constructie din lemn din Europa (57 metri inaltime).

In interiorul bisericii este foarte intuneric. Pronaosul foarte mic si jos si nu are ferestre. Naosul este mult mai spatios, cu o bolta mare din lemn, insa nici aici nu intra prea multa lumina. Deasupra pronaosului se ridica turnul, care nu este chiar atat de inalt, insa ofera o imagine gratioasa intregului ansamblu. In fata fatadei de vest, se afla un portic cu doua nivele, fiecare cu coloane care sustin arce. Porticul a fost adaugat in 1900. Acoperisul cu doua streșini acopera o mare parte din biserica, in timp ce acoperisul care acopera altarul este mai scund si cu o singura streașină. Acoperisul masiv este sustinut de barne, ale caror capete sunt cioplite in forme decorative. O brau ca o funie rasucita sculptata merge în jurul cladirii bisericii chiar pe sub ferestrele mici.

Naosul este mult mai spatios, cu o bolta mare din lemn, insa nici aici nu intra prea multa lumina. Exista cate o fereastra mai mare pozitionata jos pe peretii din sud si nord, si doua ferestre mai mici pe fiecare perete, pozitionate destul de sus intre cele doua stresini ale acoperisului. Altarul este din nou nu prea inalt si are trei ferestre mici, la nord, est si sud. Ferestrele sunt iarasi foarte mici, chiar daca ele au fost largite in 1900, odata cu adaugarea verandei. Din acest motiv din pacate, pictura murala din jurul ferestrelor a fost distrusa.

In biserica, barbatii ocupau stranele sau stateau in fata altarului cu fetele tinere in fata lor, adesea in jurul altarului. Tinerii umpleau balcoanele in timp ce femeile si fetele peste cincisprezece ani, stateau in pronaos. Femeile batrane stateau afara pe banci lipite de peretii bisericii.

Biserica a fost cioplita manual de unii din cei mai talentati mesteri din Maramures. Ei nu au folosit unelte electrice sau cuie pentru a ridica aceasta constructie impresionanta. Complexul monastic este de asemenea realizat din lemn, conform traditiei locale. Doar mesterii care au ridicat biserica de la Barsana au construit si celelalte cladiri ale complexului. Astazi oricine poate admira portile din Maramures, clopotnitele, bisericile din lemn, chiliile maicilor, capela, chiliile preotilor, casele artistilor si mai recent un muzeu amenajat unde sunt expuse diverse obiecte ce descriu istoria Maramuresului, cultura si civilizatia sa.

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