Cozia Monastery, built between 1387 and 1388 on the banks of the Olt River, is the earliest example of Byzantine architecture in the region. It is one of the most beautiful edifices erected by Vlad the Impaler’s grandfather, the Wallachian ruler Mircea the Elder (Mircea cel Batran). His tomb can be found inside the church, next to that of Teofana, the mother of Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul).
At the beginning, the monastery was fortified, being surrounded by tall defensive walls. Due to the strategic military purposes, the monastery was erected in a secluded spot, which now impresses through the beauty of its surroundings. The monastery was restored several times and new annexes were added by Neagoe Basarab (at the beginning of the 16th century) and Constantin Brâncoveanu (at the beginning of the 18th century). During their rules, inside the precincts of the monastery were built two fountains, the princely house, the four belvedere towers and the old kitchen with its annexes in the brancovenesc style. The monastery maintained its stronghold aspect until 1821, mainly because in the 19th century several earthquakes damaged the monastery, destroying it almost completely.
The mural paintings in Cozia Monastery represent masterpieces of the national cultural patrimony, of an inestimable artistic and documentary value. The murals that adorn the walls of the church were redone in 1706 – 1707, when the Brancovenesc-style porch was also added. In 1984, a team of specialists made restoration works at the altar, tower and porch, and a year after, in 1985, they washed the 18th century paintings and restored the original frescoes from the narthex of the main church, dating from the 14th century. One of the most representative paintings is the fresco on the right wall of the nave, which shows the founder, Mircea the Elder, dressed as a grand medieval knight, next to one of his sons, and holding the miniature of the monastery in his hand. Apart from the mural paintings, inside the monastery you can admire other valuable works of art, such as the chandeliers in the church’s nave and narthex. They date from the time of Constantin Brâncoveanu, the one in the nave still maintaining the inscription with the date of its manufacturing (1691). The old iconostasis was destroyed by a fire, the actual one dating from 1794.
The monastery also includes a small museum, founded in 1983, which exhibits an impressive collection of old religious objects: icons from the 14th – 19th centuries, painted on wood and glass, cult objects, printings in Romanian with Cyrillic characters, as well as other documents in Slavic and Greek. There are also important manuscripts, gospels and fragments from 14th century stone sculptures.
How to get there:
Cozia Monastery is situated 1.5km from Calimanesti – Caciulata spa resort and 23km from Ramnicu Valcea, on DN7/E81 road.