It can be said that Horezu is the most important center of the Romanian folk ceramic creation. The potters living here have a long tradition and the Horezu vessels are known both in the country and abroad.
Horezu is located in the central part of Valcea county, approximately midway between Ramnicu Valcea and Targu Jiu and it is considered the "capital" of the Romanian ceramics.
Horezu was part of the Farcas principality, being documented mentioned in the diploma of King Bela IV of Hungary, and the development of the Horezian settlements was related to the transhumance routes, to the roads of the outlaws crossing the area, and to the well-known salt road, which started from Ocnele Mari, passed through Pietrarii de Jos and from Horezu continued to Slatioara and reached Cernesti. Its documented mention dates back to 1487, in a charter belonging to the prince Vlad the Friar, who mentioned the village of Hurez.
The current name of Horezu comes from the name "ciuhurez", a bird similar to the owl that inhabits the surrounding forests. However, the name of Hurezi originally belonged to the present locality of Romani de Jos suburb, where Constantin Brancoveanu built a monastery representing a synthesis of the art and mastery of the Romanian people until that time, the Horezu monastery, between 1690-1693. Over time, the village hearth has moved over a hill to about 2 km, probably due to the fact that the transhumance routes and the other roads intersected in that place, becoming a place favorable to the development of a fair.
Later on, Constantin Brancoveanu donated the village to the monastery, and this settlement will develop after 1780, when it becomes known as the Horezu Fair.
From the cultural point of view, the character of the Horezu area is a historic, monastic one, oriented to specific Romanian craftsmanship, such as pottery, hand-made fabrics and religious painting. The pottery continues to be the emblem of the place, a trade that has been passed down from generation to generation through the families of potters.
In 2012, at the seventh session, UNESCO decided to include Horezu ceramics on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, being "a unique traditional craft".
In the beginning, two types of pots were made at Horezu: "ordinary pots", used daily, which were not "decorated", but only "sprinkled" with a few stains of color made on enamel and pots, where the craftsmanship of the popular craftsmen was visible through motifs that have already become established (Horez rooster, tree of life, double spiral, etc.).
The Rooster is the emblem of the Horezu ceramic center. The rooster comes from the houses in Oltenia, where it fulfilled the warning function: solar watcher against the unknown, the symbol of victory, the victory of light over the darkness. Legend has it that it proclaims the disintegration of darkness and apotropaically measures time, it was the one that awakened people in times when the technique was not so advanced: "The rooster song symbolized the passing of the critical moment and announced the victory of the sun and of the light over the night and the darkness . It announced not only the night hours, but also the cleansing of the night space by the forces hostile to man. "
At the same time, the rooster is also considered the symbol of the soul's revival and immortality, the emblem of vigilance and pride. The representation of the rooster on the Horezu ceramic pots is varied, the rooster being presented in various chromatic colors and hypostases: high and mighty, more colorful, more puffed, etc.
The symbol "the tree of life" enjoys a special status, a visually different image from one creator to another. The tree of life symbolizes life, fertility, perpetuation, regeneration, the victory of life or the dream of "youth without age and life without death."
In the Romanian folk art, the tree of life has three different representations: Thraco-Dacian, Hellenistic and Iranian. If the Thraco-Dacic pattern is made of fir in various forms (fir branch, fir leaf), we can not say the same about the other two representations.
The fir tree constantly appears on the edge of the cuts, while the tree of life is always central, often unique or with other subordinate elements: roosters, grass, flowers, etc. Joining the fir tree with the crucifix or the cross is an ornamental composition transmitted by Christian art, very rarely found in medieval pottery and even in the folk pottery, revived today in expressive plastic representations.
The Horezu vessels bear in them the long tradition of clay processing and the dedication of the popular craftsmen, making each object unique and containing a part of Romania. Nowadays, Horezu is a strong point of ethnographic attraction, it is a place where you can find Romanian crafts, craftsmen's workshops, beautiful stories and goodwill.
If you arrive in Horezu, you should not miss the Horezu Monastery, built by the prince Constantin Brancoveanu, which is a synthesis of the art and mastery of the Romanian people. The Church Museum of the Horezu Monastery includes medieval art pieces, old fabrics and books. These copies come from the library of Constantin Brâncoveanu's monastery, which had one of the most valuable book collections of his time.