“My new deliberate and slower pace has created a higher quality in my experiences.”
– Lisa J. Shultz
Ladies and gentlemen,
Following the resounding success of the previous Royal Endevors exclusive episode, dedicated to the marvelous experience La Conac by AIO Living, comes this fabulous edition devoted to my recent family adventure to Horezu and its beautiful surroundings, fully charged with historic symbolism and a deep sense of authenticity. The historical landmarks to be revealed mark the outstanding representation of our national culture, proudly facing the test of time for centuries, while promoting strong values and embracing the solemn rhythm of tranquility and spiritual communion.
In this Royal Endevors episode, I will proceed to magically enchant you with the breathtaking view of Museum Complex of Maldaresti, the splendid interiors of Horezu Monastery, exclusively captured due to a striking synchronicity, all followed by fortune tales of the lovely dinner we had at Pastravaria Romani, a superb location offering a single dish – menu of the day – including the one of a kind experience of chosing your own fish out of a pond in order for it to be freshly cooked.
“Escape from complicated life! Take refuge in simple life! You will find three treasures there: Healthy body, peaceful mind and a life away from ambitious fools!”
– Mehmet Murat Ildan
The Museum Complex of Maldaresti
“A fortress doesn’t fall unless its towers are weakened.”
– S.R. Crawford
It was a glorious Saturday morning during The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the 14th of September when we decided the day was to delightful to be spent at home, so we decided to enjoy the sunshine and embark on a mission to Horezu, a town located in Vâlcea County, renowned for its well preserved traditions, marvelous ceramics and Horezu Holy Monastery, a stunning World Heritage Site.
The first stop of the journey was Cula Duca, part of the Maldaresti Museum Complex, where I accidentally joined an already formed tourist group receiving valuable information, charmed by the enchanting storytelling gift of the specialized guide.
Unfortunately, I was late and did not have the chance to grasp complete information anyway, mostly because I was fascinated by the simple, yet extremely chic interior design, nor did I visit the famous Cula Greceanu, therefore I had mistaken the two monuments recently online, but given the sharp attention of a Monumentalist group member and my intuition to post the picture on Facebook, I was warmly corrected and can now provide accurate information. Nevertheless, I would gladly come again anytime to the Museum Complex of Maldaresti in order to enjoy fully the breathtaking sights and enter the marvelous Cula Greceanu. I was even asked if I was an artist in order to be granted free access but I didn’t mind to pay the very small contribution required to visit the lovely complex.
Cula Duca, Cula Greceanu and Memorial House of I.G. Duca form the Museum Complex of Maldaresti.
Cula Duca was build between 1812-1827 by Gheorghita Maldarescu, bought by politician I.G. Duca in 1910 and furnished in Romanian traditional style.
Cula Greceanu was built during the reign of Michael the Brave, being the oldest fortification in Romania which has maintained the exterior unaltered after nearly half a millennium. The edifice has been preserved under exemplary conditions, being open to the public as museum since 1956.
Such fortresses were built by Wallachian noblemen starting from the end of the sixteenth century, as protection measure against Ottoman incursions, hence the name “Cula”, which comes from the word “kule”, meaning “tower” in Turkish.
Built from solid rock and painted in sparkling white, Cula Greceanu perfectly matches the necessary requirements of a fortified residence, being well prepared for its double function.
The present appearance of the edifice dates from eighteenth century, having been subject to restoration between 1780-1790 by landlord Gheorghe Maldarescu and his wife, Eva.
Right in front of Cula Duca proudly stands The Memorial House of I.G. Duca, built in 1912 in neoromanian style with formal influences from the two kule by the liberal politician I.G. Duca, with the purpose to use it as vacation house and the intention to transform it into a museum.
The building is well preserved, refined and cosy, reflecting through scale and arrangement the good taste and the modesty of a man who, although invested as prime minister, managed to maintain a sense of measure in everything he undertook.
The museum presents objects that belonged to the politician, former Prime Minister of Romania, murdered by Legionnaires in 1933.
The Memorial House is only 3 kilometers away from the city of Horezu, where at the age of 23, I. G. Duca became a judge.
I warmly recommend visiting these unique emblems of the architectural patrimony to anyone wishing to discover the simplicity and distinguished taste which characterized the art of living of wealthy noblemen with a strong sense of national pride and intellectual authenticity, dedicated to promoting cultural values and creating an undeniable legacy.
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
– Beverly Sills
Speaking of tremendous legacy, I am deeply honored for the major opportunity to have taken these fabulous pictures inside of Horezu Monastery, only because at the time of our visit, a generous group of french seniors was obstructing the “No Photos” warning.
I call this a divine synchronicity marking my first visit to the most representative construction in the Brâncovenesc style, standing out as an extraordinary artistic synthesis, truly remarkable through the balanced distribution of architectural volumes, along the richness and refinement of the artistic elements, iconic landmark included in the UNESCO patrimony since 1993.
Located in Valcea County, at the foot of Capatanii Mountains, the holy monastery was built between 1693 and 1697, during Constantin Brancoveanu’s reign, with Saints Constantine and Helena as its dedication day.
The entire monastic complex covers more than 3 hectares and includes the monastery, the Bolnitei church, founded by Lady Mary (Constantin Brancoveanu’s wife), built in 1696 and painted by Preda Nicolae and Ianache, then the Holy Apostles’ Hermitage, located 50 meters to the North, founded by the great archimandrite Ioan in 1698 and painted by Iosif and Ioan in 1700, and also the Saint Stephan Hermitage, named after the ruler’s oldest son, built in 1703 and painted by Ianache, Istrate and Harinte.
The name of the monastery comes from “huhurezi” (eagle owls), a species of night birds with coloured plumage. According to the legend, the workers hired to build it were forced to work only by night, out of the Turks fear, the time when the eagle owls were singing.
The church of the monastery is 32 meters long and 14 meters high and it is very similar to the Curtea de Arges Monastery.
In the beginning, the monastery was for monks, but in 1872 it became a nun monastery. Over 60 000 tourists visit it every year, but the greatest pilgrimage is on Easter.
Charles Diehl, specialist in Byzantine art, considered it „Le plus beau de toute Roumanie”. In 2005, Prince Charles of Great Britain himself spent 3 days in one of the cells of the monastery.
The interior paintings present scenes from the Old and New Testament, moments from the dedication of the monastery and, of course, Holy Saints Constantine and his mother Helena. Towards the end of the 17th century, the Hurez Monastery sheltered a sculpture and painting school.
Constantin Brancoveanu’s family is to be found in the pronaos, because this monastery was designed as the necropolis of the Brancoveanu family. Unfortunately, the relics of the ruler, beheaded by Turks in 1714, have not been brought yet.
I hope you had enjoyed the tales of the holy monastery and do consider visiting the vastest and most sumptuous monastic ensemble raised in South-Eastern Europe, a masterpiece of Brâncoveanu style by its flawless architecture, sculpture and painting.
“I thought clay must feel happy in the good potter’s hand.”
– Janet Fitch
Pottery is an ancient occupation, practised ever since prehistoric times, as can be seen from the beautiful ceramic items dating back to the Neolithic age, when a remarkable civilization formed and developed on the territory of present-day Romania.
Horezu Ceramic is an unique type of Romanian pottery that is traditionally produced by hand around the town of Horezu, close to the famous Horezu Monastery. It reflects many generations of knowledge and skills development of pottery, which is why the craftsmanship of Horezu pottery was inscribed on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in December 2012.
This ancient craft is preserved in the ancestral hearth, now known as Olari Street of Horezu, where artisans shape the clay into the same painstaking process as their ancestors did.
Horezu is a singular historical Romanian ceramic center in which this trade remained the main source of income for many families of potters. Today this craftsmanship is transmitted as always in the family circle, but also in workshops from master to apprentice, and pottery festivals and exhibitions.
The Horezu ceramic center has been and continues to be a true leader of the Romanian ceramic folk creation.
The potters from Horezu realized in the beginning regular vessels that they would sell at the fairs organized in the vicinity of their village or they would give to the waggoners who would sell them in some other villages. Usually, the trade was made outdoors (several vessels in exchange for maize, poultry or animals).
The notion of “regular vessels” comes from the fact that these vessels were used in everyday usage. Later on, their usage limited only to rituals, as they were used for funeral repasts or for Saturday before Whitsuntide (mosi). The vessels were not decorated, but there were only a few enameled stains of color on them.
The vessels used for consuming had to be fine and easy to use, to be resistant and hygienic as well. Besides these characteristics, the vessels had to please the eye and the soul.
Now each potter has his own technique of shaping, but each respects the sequence of the process.
While men usually men extract the earth, which is then cleaned, cut, watered, kneaded, trampled, mixed and transformed it into red clay, women decorate the shaped ceramics before firing with special techniques and tools in order to draw traditional motifs.
Their skills in combining decoration and color determines the personality and uniqueness of these pieces. Colors are bright shades of brown, red, green, blue and so called “Horezu ivory”.
The emblem of Horezu ceramic centre is the cock, a symbol of renaissance and immortality of the soul. On the Horezu pottery, it is shown from the side, with its head held high up and its beak open (perhaps singing), with its tail ruffled, representing vigilance and pride.
Our shopping recommendation: Visit the pottery stores on Tudor Vladimirescu Street, including the wonderful Ceramica Pietraru.
“Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner version which guides us as a nation.
And where there is no vision, the people perish.”
– Lyndon Johnson
“Fishing in the right pond is better than fishing in the wrong river.”
– Matshona Dhliwayo
After a quick check of the beautiful Horezu pottery offerings of the local shops, my dad being a faithful admirer and fervent user of Horezu vassels for soups, we headed for lunch at Pastravaria Romani, after asking for suggestions to the pottery sellers outside of Horezu Monastery. The place is stunning, inspite of having low network coverage but its relaxed vibe and wonderful view does not require mobile data usage, I would say. The brilliant thing about it is that you can’t get food any freshed than the fish you personally choose from a pond, later for it to be stuffed with vegetables, cooked and presented on the dish of the day, accompanied by garlic sauce and polenta.
I truly recommend the place for the dreamy atmosphere, lovely view and delicious trout – definitely not to be missed if you land in the area somehow.
These being said, thank you for accompanying me step by step throughout this fabulous Royal Endeavors episode dedicated to Maldaresti and Horezu Legacy.
I hope you have enjoyed a wonderful journey through time and history.
A little bit of magic works everytime and, as far as my talent for capturing art and beauty goes, the pictures speak for themselves in a warmly inviting tone. Nevertheless, I left plenty of open space to sparkle interest for you to create your own fabulous experience, as you are invited to indulge into a personal discovery of such a valuable legacy, which I am confident you will now consider by leaving no stone unturned.
Your Majestic Highness,