Barsana monastery

More precisely a synthesis of the Byzantine plan and the Gothic forms rendered according to an original autochthonous architectural interpretation. The constructions are made out of wood. The wooden churches with their tall steeples are representative especially for the landscape in Maramures si Salaj.

The Monastery is situated on the northern-central part of the village on a hillock from the cemetery with old graves full of grass. The first church was built in 1720 with interior paintings done by local artists Hodor Toador and Ion Plohod. The Orthodox Barsana Monastery is a popular pilgrimage spot in Maramures.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. Barsana’s 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 (62 m tall).

The old church has florid paintings among the best in Maramures. At the end of the village is a new nunnery, with a wooden church, raising a 54 m steeple (the highest from Eastern Europe). 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 steeple, at 56 meters, has surprised the steeple on the church in Surdesti.

The entire project, including the nunnery has been led by the Mother Superior, Filofteia Olteanu by having it constructed little by little as contributions allowed. The construction has taken place using traditional methods. No power tools and no metal nails are used.