The History Museum in Suceava...
The History Museum in Suceava is worth a visit if you want to get a general idea of the development and population of the area, from prehistoric times through the Dacians, the Romans and also Romania's involovement in major events up to the middle of the 20th century. The communist era is no longer on display.
The picture is from a tablou at the museum of the court of Stefan Cel Mare. It is easy to travel around Moldavia on a tight budget-apart from the cost of the train tickets getting to and from Suceava, I lived on next to nothing.
The life near the religion
The religion has an important place in the life of this far corner of old Europe. Wrong or not, sad or happy, this is something very close to the life of this people. All the ceremonies are really great and you, believer in God or not, must be in some of them
In Bucovina, lots of storks are building their nests. We were being told that they disappeared during the Ceausescu years, probably because of the heavy pollution in the Suceava area. In recent years they showed up again, a sign of the positive changes in Romania.
Gateway to the Painted Churches
The painted churches of Southern Bucovina are some of the most interesting sights in Eastern Europe. After getting a night train from Cluj Napoca with hard drinking locals (another story) I arrived in Suceava to explore the churches. The UNESCO designated monasteries were used during the time of Turkish invaders. To educate the illitereate peasants who were unable to understand biblical stories, the monks with the assistance of artists that lived in the fortress type monasteries painted bibilical scenes on the side of numerous churches in the area. Despite 5 centuries of wind and rain, the churches are superb :)
Located in the North-East of Romania, with roots going back to the far Palaeolithic (100,000-10,000 BC), Suceava county’s evolution marked the history of the Romanians with significant moments. This space was the cradle of the first centralised state of Moldavia (1359) with illustrious founders of European civilisation and fearless fighters who defended their ancestors’ land such as Bogdan I the Founder (1359-1365); Petru Musat (1375-1391); Alexander the Good (1400-1432); and, last but not least, the great hero of independence Stephen the Great and Holy (1457-1504). Attractive due to its riches and easy trade routes towards the East, this part of the country had often been ravaged by invaders, its territory crippled by neighbours, eventually torn away by the greedy Austrian Empire under the rule of which it stayed for 150 years (1868-1918). The post-war treaties failed to restore the historical rights of Bucovina.
Suceava county lies in the north-eastern part of Romania and borders on Ukraine to the North, Neamt and Mures counties to the South, Ukraine to the East and Maramures and Bistrita counties to the West. The county has an area of 8,553.50 sq km. The municipalities of Suceava, Falticeni, Campulung Moldovenesc and Radauti, and the towns of Vatra Dornei, Siret and Solca are the major settlements of the county. The municipality of Suceava, the county seat, has 120,000 inhabitants. Suceava county has approximately 700,000 inhabitants of which 250,000 in the urban area and 450,000 in the rural area. The climate is temperate and humid, with average annual temperature of 8°C. Hills and mountains are the predominant forms of relief while 54 per cent of the county’s area is covered by forests (3/4 coniferae)). Arable land covers an area of 1,813 sq km and the hydrographic basin includes some 136 sq km of rivers and ponds.
A legendary land. This is the Suceava county for the visitors of this part of Romania, known as Bucovina, a place where history is all around. A birthplace of an old civilization, the Suceava county is situated in the North-Eastern part of Romania and on the first places as concerns its surface, number of inhabitants, and economic, tourist and human potential. The relief is a mountain and hilly one, with wonderful landscapes, with a dense hydrographic network, fast waters flow on sunny valleys. The hundred thousand tourists who visit yearly this county is explained by its geographic position at a cross of roads between North and South, East and West, its neighborhood with Ukraine, Poland, Republic of Moldova as well as to its wonderful landscapes, numberless cultural and historic monuments and artistic and folk life. A specific feature of this county is that on a not big surface there is a great number of tourist attractions. There are here good facilities for the summer and winter sports, for hunting and fishing, as well as for rest in large oasis of calm. The mountains of Suceava has natural varied and attractive places. A wonderful route is the one to the Calimani volcanic massif (Pietrosul Calimanilor - 2102 m above sea level), or to the Giumaslau and Rarau massive, the last one being known for its karst relief. Some wonderful landscapes are offered by the narrow pathes of the Bistrita Aurie River, Upper Valley of Moldova and Suceava Rivers. This county has large natural reservations of flora and fauna (stag, roebuck, bear, wild boar, capercaillie, lynx). There are numberless landscapes which can be compared with the ones from Switzerland, France, Austria, Italy, Germany, Spain, a.o. The ecological value and proverbial hospitality of peoples create good conditions to integrate this Dornele zone into the world net of mountain values. Among the 35 natural monuments and natural reservations, the century-old forests from Slatioara (600 ha with spruce fir trees which are over 400 years old) offers a remarkable view of the pure nature. Among the vestiges perfectly integrated into the nature, a special mention has to be done in connection with the painted monuments which are included by the UNESCO among the masterprices of the world art. Also the International Federation of Tourism Journalists and Writers (FIJET) awarded the POMME D'OR international Prize in 1975 to this zone known now all over the world.
Among these monuments, the Voronet Monastery (1488) is shinning like a sapphire. At little distances one to another, there are reknown medieval orthodox foundations: Humor (1530), Moldovila (1532), Sucevita (1584) Monasteries visited by art and beauty lovers. Also here they are the Dragomirna Monastery (1609), an embroidery in stone, the Putna Monastery (1469) built by great Voivode Stefan cel Mare, this being also his grave. Other monasteries of a great historic and orthodox value are the ones situated in the Stanisoara area: Slatina, Rasca and Pobota Monasteries. The municipality of Suceava, the capital city of this county gathers about all creative and productive fields of activity which put into account the rich economic resources of Bucovina. A possible tourist route comprises the Princely Fortress of Suceava, the Sf. Ioan Monastery in Zamca, the Saint Dumitru, Holy Resurrection, Miruli medieval Churches. A point of interest is also the National Museum of Bucovina with its valuable historic and archaeology exhibits. Other towns are interesting by their specific features: Campulung Moldovenese, the socalled Helvetian pearl of Bucovina, founded by ruler Alexandru cel Bun, and the municipality of Radauti, reknown by its fair. For the lovers of literature, a stop in the municipality of Falticeni (a real Weimar of Romania) also called "the town of outstanding peoples". Here there are Ciprian Porumbescu's museum, Nicolae Labis' memorial house in Malini, or the folk zones of Ciocanesti, Vatra Moldoviei, Fundu Moldovei, Vama, Putna, Straja. A special place has the village of Marginea where skilful potters make the famous black pottery known all over the world. The Suceava county has modern accommodation facilities (over 4,000 places in hotels, inns, chalets, camp grounds, peasant households, and about 6,000 seats in restaurants), as well as over 1,000 km of modernized national and county roads and 430 km of railways.