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Agapia Monastery – Neamt County

24 September 2009 No Comment

manastirea-agapia-neamtAgapia Monastery is located at 9 km from the town of Targu Neamt, at 43 km from Piatra Neamt and to approximately 7 km from DN15C (national road), at an altitude of 480 m. The architectural complex is formed by 2 buildings: Agapia Veche Hermitage, which was built  in the year 1585 by Petru Schipul and Agapia Monastery, raised with the money of Hatman Gavril in the year 1642 – he is the brother of prince Vasile Lupu – and rebuild by prince Sutu after the fire from 1821. Painted by Nicolae Grigorescu, in the year 1858, the church of Agapia Monastery becomes a true architectural jewelry which combines characteristics of the byzantine style with the neoclassic style and the Romanian art.

Address: Monastery Agapia, village Agapia, Neamt County, postal code 617010

Tel: +(40) 233 24 47 36 or +(40) 233 24 46 18

The patron of Agapia monastery: “Holy Archangels Michael and Gavriil” – November 8

Short history of Agapia Monastery

Located on the valley of the creek Agapia – Topola, at the foot of Magura hill, Agapia Monastery is the only monastic settlement in the country that bears the name of “Christian love”, which comes from the Greek “agapis”. The monastery and surrounding area took the name from the monk named Agapie, which in the XIV century built in this area of Neamt County a wooden church. The first documentary in which Agapia Monastery is separated from Neamt Monastery in terms of land ownership was in 1437 in the Decision of Ilies Voda.

The founders of Agapia Monastery are Petru Rares Voievod and lady Elena, mentioned in The Old Pomelnic (Pomelnic: a piece of paper on which you write either the names of living persons or dead ones to be mentioned in prayers) from Agapia Monastery – they are the ones that built the first stone church here. Also, an inscription found in the monastery says that the first founders were Petru Shiopul and lady Ruxandra, in the year 1585.

Due to unstable ground on which the church was build and limited space for expansion, in the years around 1600, part of the monks moved down to the valley where they built a little church around which the monastery known today as Agapia Monastery has developed, also known as New Agapia, Agapia from the Valley or Great Agapia.

Photos from Agapia Monastery

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Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County
Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County
Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County Agapia Monastery - Neamt County

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Designed by architect Ionasc Ctisi, the church of Agapia Monastery was built of stone and brick after a plan that resembles a clover, with the big tower on naos, between 16 October 1642 and September 3 1644 in the time of Prince Vasile Lupu and on the expense of Hatman Gavriil and his wife Liliana. Between 1644 and 1647 were built the cells and the bell tower at sunrise, a massive building of granite stone.

The first service from Agapia Monastery was officially held by Mitropolit Varlaam Motoc (Mitropolit: the head of the church) surrounded by a synod of priests and monks on 12 September 1647, attended by Prince Vasile Lupu and all the nobility of Moldova. In the honor of that day, the brother of Prince Vasile Lupu, Hatmanul Gavriil, commissioned and donated a gospel church, dressed in gold, written on parchment and decorated with miniature portraits of evangelist and a cross with eight arms dressed in gilded silver, filigree that are carved the twelve great feasts from over the year.

Initially, Agapia Monastery was inhabited by monks, but in 1803 Mitropolitul Veniamin Costache turns the monastery into a convent of nuns. The first abbot was the sister of Veniamin Costache, Elizabeth Costache, who built on the southern side of the building a holly chapel in 1847 and which has as main patron the “Birth of Virgin Mary.”

Through centuries, Agapia Monastery suffered numerous robberies, fires and damage, but was always rebuilt and strengthened. In a pisanie (pisanie: inscription on a piece of stone or metal, placed at the entrance of the church that contains the name of the founder or different information about the church) found at Agapia Monastery it is said that it suffered a fire in 1821 and with the help of Ruler Ioan Sandu Sturza and Mitropolit of Moldavia Chirio Chir Veniamin Costache and his sister, Elizabeth, the monastery was rebuilt.

The heritage of Agapia Monastery

In 1858 the church of the monastery was painted by Nicolae Grigorescu that, although he was only 18 years, managed to achieve a remarkable series of wall compositions under the form of icons, full of movement, light and realism. The painter successfully combined the Byzantine tradition with the neoclassic style and Romanian art. The inspiration for the compositions comes from the great masters of the Renaissance. Grigorescu used live models, chosen with much care, to realize his portraits.

Thus, on the left door of the altar stays a painted icon of St. Gheorghe (the one that defeated the beast) inspired from Donatello’s sculpture of Florence and to paint the prophet Daniel, the painter used his own face. The painting of Agapia Monastery has a great artistic value because it is dominated by a flurry realistic authenticity of life. Grigorescu’s masterpiece from Agapia Monastery is represented by three paintings: The Portrait of St. Gheorghe on the door of the altar, The Entry in Jerusalem and the Holly Mary with Jesus in her arms. The paintings of the Apostles Peter, Andrew, Paul and John, between four windows are based on a manner of painting based on oil pasta with bold safe lines.

The saints that Grigorescu painted at Agapia Monastery are unique … special. So special that made the subject of many writings belonging to famous writers. But to read about them is not enough. You have come here to feel Agapia’s holy beauty. You have to see with your own eyes the paintings, the simplicity of line, the perfection of proportion and shape. Silence. This is the feeling you’ll have when you will be in front of the walls decorated by Grigorescu – in front of the icons. You whisper, because you don’t want to bother the perfection created 150 years ago. And when you’ll have to leave you’ll have a feeling of regret – something that you’ll carry on with you until you’ll come back to that place.

Nicolae Grigorescu established a painting workshop at Agapia Monastery – the school where they formed nuns who had artistic inclinations. Today, however, the nuns that paint have abandoned the style of the great realist painter, by painting with Byzantine influences.

Currently, from all the nun monasteries in Romania, Agapia Monastery has the largest number of nuns to which we can add the Theological Seminary “St. Paraschiva» , founded in the time of Mitropolit Iustinian Marina.

At Agapia Monastery we find an impressive museum that has a collection of medieval art and religious objects and also a library that includes books and old manuscripts.

Also, in the village, we can visit the Memorial House of Alexandru Vlahuta.

See the accommodation possibilities from Neamt County

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