Romania is a wonderful country, proud and rich, abounding in places filled with culture and history, of unparalleled beauty.

One of the most well-known and visited places in Romania is Curtea de Arges Monastery, located in Arges County, approximately 150 km from Bucharest. The monastery sits at the end of an alley bordered by old lime trees, and invites you into a reality that seems taken from another world, which beckons you to meditate and relax your soul and your mind.

Curtea de Arges Monastery is an emblem for the entire county and beyond, and is based on a series of legends, each one more surprising than the next.

Curtea de Arges

The fundamental myth representing the building blocks of how the Curtea de Arges Monastery was built, is the myth of the sacrifice for creation, the idea that nothing long lasting or special can be achieved without sacrifice.

The genesis of Curtea de Arges Monastery is represented by a very famous legend, which refers to Manole the Master Builder and his team of stonemasons, who were charged by Neagoe Basarab to build the most majestic monastery. However, the construction was not moving forward, because at night, all the work done during the day would magically crumble. Manole then had a dream, which told that they would not be able to build the monastery until “We decide/ To wall in/ The first wife,/ The first sister/ That shows up/ Tomorrow at dawn”. The unlucky one was Manole himself, whose wife Ana came to see him, in spite of having to brave the rain and wind meant to turn her away at Manole’s behest. Thus, Manole is forced to wall Ana in, and after this terrible sacrifice, the construction of the monastery was finished with no further impediments.

Seeing the beautiful building, Neagoe Basarab ordered the scaffolding removed so that Manole and his team be stranded on the roof without any possibility of getting down. Thirsting for life, Manole the master builder engineered himself a pair of wings but he crashed in the center of the monastery courtyard. A spring fueled by Manole’s tears appeared on that spot.

 

Curtea de Arges

There is however a question regarding the building of the monastery: what exactly made the ruler Neagoe Basarab demand that the monastery be built? The legend of the boar of Dracilor Valley also proposes an explanation of the moment that triggered the ruler’s decision to build the church.

Neagoe Basarab and his Court were hunting in the Campulung area, where the wild animals had multiplied uncontrollably and represented a threat for the locals. They were especially afraid of a great boar, which Neagoe decided to follow. While chasing after the boar, the ruler arrived at the edge of the ancient forest of a valley named Dracilor, famous for being extremely dangerous. All of a sudden, a terrible storm came, which darkened the sky, soaked the ruler and made him lose sight of the animal. Fumbling through the darkness, Neagoe reached a temple in ruins, where he took shelter from the rain overnight. He prayed all night for his life, promising to repay whoever helped him. The next day he finally managed to find his way out of the forest safe and sound. As a sign of gratitude, Neagoe ordered the building of the greatest monastery in the kingdom, in the place of the temple ruins in the forest where his life had been saved. According to the stories, this is how Curtea de Arges Monastery was born.

Founded by the great ruler Neagoe Basarab, who ruled between 1512 and 1517, Curtea de Arges Monastery is dedicated to The Assumption of Mary. This place is impressive not only because of its religious significance but also due to its cultural one, becoming a real fountain of information for the minds that thirst for culture.

Curtea de Arges

Curtea de Arges Monastery holds the relic of Saint Filoftea, relics of the saints Serghey, Vach and of the martyr Tatiana, as well as the Gospel of the Resurrection on Holy Saturday written in letters of gold by Queen Elisabeta. Here lie also the tombs of the kings Carol the 1st and Ferdinand the 1st (with their wives), and in 2003 King Carol the 2nd was also repatriated together with Elena Lupescu, the latter being interred in the cemetery of the monastery.