Seven hills and seventy churches.
When I arrived in Iași, my taxi driver suggested me not to go out of the town to visit other monasteries around because according to him they are interesting mainly for Romanian people but for tourist there is more than enough to see in Iași. I’m following his suggestion and in this second and last day here I decided to visit three monasteries located on Iași’s hills. By the way, did you know that Iași claims to have seven hills like Rome. I would say that this of the “seven hills” was a lucky “brand”. Check here to see how many towns in the world claim for this peculiarity. Using the map I get yesterday from tourist office I’ve defined an itinerary to follow today, mainly on foot, in order to be able to visit three monasteries out of the more than seventy that Iași seems to have.
Galata Monastery and some embarrassing moment.
First site in the route is Galata Monastery that is standing on the top of a hill called Miroslavei. The church was built in XVI and it is surrounded by strong walls with a very tall gate. When I’m entering I hear bells ringing and I put it in relation to the Sunday. Probably the mass is going to start or to end, I said to me. As I always do in such situation I avoid disturbing people during worship so I’m on the monastery courtyard taking some picture and waiting. Someone comes to offer me a slice of Cozonac, a typical Romanian cake and a painted egg, all in a little bag. I think “what a nice gesture” and I start to eat the cozonac. Then another man get closer to me and gives me a glass of house wine and I keep thinking “what a nice welcome!”. At that point a third person comes to me to offer me again cozonac and egg and I refuse but she seems to be very offended by this. I try to explain her that I had already one slice. She understands then I’m a foreigner and she explains me in english that this is a rite for a dead person and that in this case it is not correct to refuse what it is offered and she goes away. I admit I was incredibly embarrassed. Typical situation when you would like to run away and hide. From that moment on, of course, I do not refuse any food offered to me, so when I get out of the monastery, I’ve drank two more glass of wine and I have 4 eggs and 3 slices of cozonac in my backpack. I leave most of them to a guy sleeping on a bench.
Way to Cetăţuia Monastery.
Galata and Cetăţuia are quite close if you measure the distance with a direct line but the road is much longer because from the top of one hill you have to go on top of another one. While I’m going uphill I appreciate that this monastery is secluded, there are no other buildings on the hill and so it seems to be out of town. By the way its name, Cetăţuia, means Citadel in Romanian. On the lower part of the about 2 kilometres hike to the top I see some people arranging things for a Sunday barbecue. Monastery is very beautiful and it is probably the best I could see in town in place of the Bucovina ones I’m missing due to lack of time. It is one century more recent than Galata and within the walls is exactly like you should expect an orthodox monastery should be. A beautiful church in the middle, gardens perfectly shaped, cats laying on the meadow. Well maybe cats are not exactly a must but I like them so I would put them everywhere. I’m not able to take so many picture inside the church because a monk that is vacuuming prevents me to do it.
To reach the last Monastery of the tour I just need to go back on my footsteps on
Cetăţuia road, until it ends. The Frumoasa Monastery based on its name that in Romanian means beautiful should be the best but in my heart I doubt it could be better than Cetăţuia one and I’m actually right. I realised that I’m visiting the monasteries from the older to the more recent. This one was built in XVIII century and has a strong neo-classical character. In the courtyard there’s not much to see so I enter in the church where I found another monk vacuuming. Was it the “vacuum cleaner day” in Romanian monasteries and I was not informed? This monk at least ignores me so I can take some picture without problems.
Last walk around.
Getting out from the area of Frumoasa monastery is not that easy because is separated by the centre by the extensive Nicolina railways station infrastructure. However in the end I’m able to get on some familiar street and from here I decided to go once again in the centre even if the weather is now quite gloomy. I would like to visit the Lipovan church inside but unfortunately is still closed. So I reach again the palace of culture area for a beer in a beer garden. After it, since I don’t have other things to see I go back home to return in the same beer garden for the dinner. This way, with some pork cutlet and a beer it ends my stay in Romania. Tomorrow there will be a new country. For now you can see pics from these days in Iași.