Photographer's Note

Manastirea Sambata in judetul Brasov - The Sambata Monastery in Brasov County

The "Brancoveanu" Monastery - Sambata de Sus - located on the valley of Sambata river- is famous for being a place of recovery, comfort and spiritual balm for visitors who halt or pray in this sacred dwelling. The history of Brāncoveanu Monastery started in the 17th century, when Preda Brāncoveanu erected on Sambata Valley the first church built in wood. On its place, around the year 1696, Constantin Brāncoveanu, the ruler of Wallachia (1688 - 1714), re-built a monastery in stone, in order to strengthen and save the Romanian Orthodoxy from the danger of Catholicism, which appeared when Transylvania was ruled by the Habsburgs (1683). In 1785 the monastery was partially demolished by the order of general Bukow from Vienna All the cells were completely destroyed, the church became a ruin and the monks were driven away. Throughout the 140 years since the destruction there had been many people who tried to restore it such as Metropolitan Bishop Andrei Saguna, Bishop Ilarie Puscariu, nun Maria Boros and so on, but with no results. The honor of becoming the second founder of the Brāncoveanu Monastery was given to Metropolitan Nicolae Balan, who started the restoration work in the 1926. Its consecration took place in 1946 , after the war (that is why the precincts were not rebuilt).

The architectural style fits entirely Brāncoveanu style, which emerged in Wallachia at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. Stones decorate the windows and the door frames and I took real interest in observing the front entrance door, the sculptured pillars and the stone panels of the church which add a special beauty to the monastery.

The steeple is octagonal outside and cylindrical inside. The interior is divided into: altar, nave, narthex and porch and it is quite common to the churches built during Brāncoveanu's time. The painting of the porch is entirely new and includes scenes from the Old Testament. The entrance from the porch to the narthex is through a thick oak door, framed by sculptured stone.

On the West-side of the narthex, where the Holy Virgin is painted, one can see the painting of Brāncoveanu's founders. The monastery houses five bells cast in Vienna, very well harmonized, electrically rung nowadays and weighing more than 2,000 Kgs.

The precincts which have been rebuilt are quadrilateral, also in a Brāncoveanu style. Three stone-carved towers adorn the precincts both on the inside and on the outside. On the ground floor of the Northern buildings there are the abbey and the cells for the monks. On the first floor there is a steeple and a new monumental and spacious church. The ground floor of the Southern buildings comprises a large refectory, the kitchens and the cells and on the first floor there is a large library.

The new monastery houses a museum, which exhibits one of the ancient glass painting collections belonging to the 18th-19th century (mostly painted in a naive manner) and very rare and historical valuable documents. Besides the glass-made-icons, one can admire ancient letters, the first edition of some newspapers, clothes worn by monks, ecclesiastical objects, a huge library and so on.

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Additional Photos by Adrian St (Adrian_S) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 185 W: 24 N: 194] (1179)
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