Images from historic churches and monasteries in Bucovina and Moldova

In August of 2*** (regular readers will know the year 😁), we took a tour of the historic churches and monasteries in the provinces of Moldova and Bucovina (within the territory of Romania).

A clarification is in order here. When people hear Moldova they automatically think about the Republic of Moldova, which used to be part of the Romanian province of Moldova but was taken by the Russians in 1940. That whole region has a fairly tumultuous history which you can read here. Just keep in mind these photographs were taken within the current-day borders of Romania and yes, there are two provinces called Bucovina and Moldova in Romania. I’ve lost track of how many times people have tried to correct me on this, all of them foreigners…

romania-historical-provinces

I could have published individual posts of each place but that would have been tedious for me (and for you too). I know it was tedious for me when we visited these places, one after another, day after day, dealing with heat, huge crowds and the hospitality industry (you know, the three Hs of travel; they add together to form a fourth H which is a four-letter word)… but we had made a plan and we stuck to it. Romanians in general tend to make trips to these places yearly for religious reasons. We visited these places because of their historical and architectural value, so while we were there we saw as many as we could in the time we had allotted ourselves.

In this gallery of photographs (there are 134 of them), you will see images from the following places:

  • The wooden church in Șurdești (Maramureș), a UNESCO monument and also the highest wooden church in the world
  • Moldovița Monastery
  • Sucevița Monastery
  • Chilia lui Daniil Sihastrul
  • Putna Monastery
  • “Dragoș Vodă” wooden church
  • Voroneț Monastery, famous for the blue used in its exterior murals, called Voroneț Blue
  • Humorul Monastery
  • Arbore Church
  • Dragomirna Monastery
  • Agapia Monastery
  • Văratec Monastery
  • Neamț Monastery
  • Secu Monastery
  • Sihăstria Monastery

Since I arranged the photos in chronological order, you’ll see them just as they’re listed above. You’ll probably want to know which was my favorite place. Dragomirna Monastery, definitely! Enjoy the gallery and thanks for being a subscriber!

I kept things simple in terms of photo gear for this trip, because there were four of us in the car and I knew I’d have to deal with the 3Hs of travel I mentioned above. I shot mainly with my Canon EOS 5D and the EF 24-105mm f/4L lens. My backup camera was the Canon PowerShot G10.

Canon EOS 5D (front)
Canon EOS 5D
Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon PowerShot G10
Canon PowerShot G10

A walk through Sibiu’s historical center

These are a few photographs (only 13 this time 😁) taken during a walk through Sibiu’s historical center nine years ago (yes, 2009). If you’re wondering why I keep publishing photos from that year, it’s because I’m finally taking care of my editing backlog. Wait, Raoul, are you saying you’re nine years behind on editing your photos? Ahem… most of my photos, yes. When you take lots of photos, that’s what happens 🤷‍♂️.

Anyway, these photos were taken with my cellphone at the time, the now-venerable Nokia N95 which had a 5 megapixel camera. It was pretty good by the standards of its time and is woefully behind the times now, not necessarily in megapixels but in dynamic range and image quality. Still, it did okay in daylight.

Enjoy the photos!

And here is the grandfather of many of today’s cellphone cameras:

Nokia N95-1

Around the town in 2009

This is a gallery of photographs taken in and around Medias in the summer of 2009 (68 photos in total). As I look back on these photos, it’s interesting to see how the town has changed and stayed the same during this time. It’s definitely changed since 2006, when I took these other photos. Enjoy!

I used the following cameras and lenses to take these photographs: an Olympus C770 UZ, a Nokia N95 (my mobile phone at the time), a Canon EOS 5D, a Canon EOS Rebel XTi, a Canon PowerShot G10, a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens.

Olympus Camedia C-770 UZ
Olympus Camedia C-770 UltraZoom
Nokia N95-1
Nokia N95
Canon EOS 5D (front)
Canon EOS 5D
Canon EOS Rebel XTi
Canon EOS Rebel XTi
Canon PowerShot G10 Front
Canon PowerShot G10
Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens

 

Blue hour and snowfall!

This past Sunday morning, I woke up to a beautiful snowfall and luckily for me, about 10 minutes before the blue hour (which actually lasts less than an hour). I tiptoed down the stairs so I wouldn’t wake up my wife and child, put some clothes and shoes on, and because it was snowing heavily, I took my Canon 7D (my only weather-sealed camera), along with the 10-22mm EF-S lens (which is also weather-sealed). I wanted an ultra-wide perspective to the photos and also the ability to shoot without a tripod at low shutter speeds. An ultra-wide lens lets you do that because of the “reciprocal rule”: as long as the shutter speed matches the focal length, you should get a good photo (provided you have steady hands). A 10-22mm lens would let me use shutter speeds as low as 1/10th of a second, which is just what I did on some of the photos. Enjoy the gallery!

For those of you who love looking at camera gear (I know I do), here is a photo of the camera and lens I used.

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f:3.5-4.5 Lens
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f:3.5-4.5 Lens

A walk through town before daybreak

To celebrate the acquisition of a new camera (well, the acquisition is new, the camera isn’t), I took a pre-dawn walk through town. It was cold and somewhat rainy. Water got on my lens a couple of times and I’d forgotten to bring a lens cloth, so you’ll see some weird light artifacts on some of the photos. That’s from the partially wiped lens… I was hoping dawn would come soon and I’d get some nice photos of the “blue hour”. As it turned out, my battery ran out of juice and I got pretty cold before that happened. But it was really nice to walk through town with few to no people around me. I am after all an introvert, so the more time I spend alone, the better I feel.

I am quite pleased with my acquisition. It’s a camera I used and reviewed in the past (eight years ago, actually): the Olympus PEN E-P2. I loved that little camera and I should have bought it back then. After quietly pining for it all this time, I found it online a few days ago at an unbeatable price, second-hand, in great condition: about 100 euros for the body, plus another 100 euros for the viewfinder (yes, I got the VF-2!) and about 200 euros for a wonderful little lens for it, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ (it’s a 2x crop factor so a 24-100mm 35mm equivalent).

Now I have the E-P2 and the E-PL1, which I bought several years ago with the two kit lenses offered at the time, the 14-42mm and the 40-150mm. Yay!

I took the photos without a tripod, relying on the camera’s optical image stabilization technology, which shifts the sensor on a 3-way axis in order to keep the shot steady. I shot at 1/10, 1/15 and 1/20, keeping the ISO at 1600 and the aperture wide open. Given that the lens goes from f/3.5 to f/6.3 when it’s at its longest focal length, that means some of the photos are darker. I squeezed every bit of light out of them in post processing, but having shot both RAW and JPG simultaneously, I can tell you the camera’s built-in noise reduction and image processing is so good (for its time), I could have just shot directly in JPG and uploaded them SOOC (straight out of the camera). Enjoy the photos!

The fortress at Rasnov

There is a fortress near Brasov, built above a village-turned-town. It’s called Rasnov and it’s been there since early medieval times.

Râșnov citadel and village on the Josephine Map of Transylvania
Râșnov citadel and village on the Josephine Map of Transylvania

The citadel was built as part of a defence system for the Transylvanian villages exposed to outside invasions. A decisive aspect for building the citadel on the actual location was the route of the invading armies which were coming from the Bran pass and were passing through Râșnov on their way to Burzenland (Țara Bârsei). The only chance of survival for the inhabitants of the area, including the ones from the villages of Cristian and Ghimbav, was refuge inside the citadel. Compelled to stay there for decades, the people of Râșnov and the nearby villages turned the fortification into a dwelling.

Sources such as Wikipedia state that archaeological research revealed the existence of fortification traces on the citadel hill since prehistoric and Dacian times, but I have to say this is the case for virtually every town in Transilvania. At one spot or another in the city, archeologists will find traces of fortifications or houses that date way back to Dacian times or even earlier. Romania is an old country.

The medieval citadel we see today is considered to have been built between 1211-1225, during the rule of the Teutonic Knights in Burzenland. Although there is no written evidence for this, it makes sense historically.

In 1335, during a Tatar incursion that ravaged Burzenland, Râșnov and Brașov were the only citadels that remained unconquered. This is also the first documented attestation of the fortifications at Rasnov. In 1421, an Ottoman army laid siege to the citadel. In 1600, Michael the Brave along with his troops and his wife, Lady Stanca, retreated here after the defeat at the Battle of Mirăslău.

The citadel was conquered only once in 1612, during the rule of Prince Gabriel Báthory. The reason was the lack of water. While there was no well within the citadel walls, there was a path to a secret spring outside its walls, but this was discovered by the enemy troops. Without water, the siege quickly ended. An interior well was then dug inside the walls, directly in the rock bed, between 1623 and 1642. It is 146 metres (479 ft) deep.

In 1718 the citadel was partially destroyed by a fire and in 1802 it was damaged by an earthquake. In 1821 refugees from Wallachia (during the revolution led by Tudor Vladimirescu) retreated to the citadel. Between 1848-1849, because the region was constantly ravaged by Hungarian revolutionaries and Austrian imperial troops, the villagers retreated to the citadel. This was the last mission of the citadel as a place of refuge and defence. After those events ended, it was left to ruin, to be restored during the early 21st century.

We visited it in the summer of 2009. I hope you enjoy this gallery of photos I took there.

More photos from Dobrogea

Quite a few years ago, I published this gallery of photographs I’d taken in the province of Dobrogea in Romania. I’ve been going through my catalog lately, re-discovering the places I’ve visited and photos I haven’t yet edited, so I thought I’d put together another gallery of photographs for you.

You may know that Dobrogea is thought of as flat place, wide and mostly arrid — great for agriculture — and it certainly is that, but there are some spots in it that can look quite different. Did you know that Dobrogea has mountains and they’re the oldest in Romania (quite possibly some of the oldest in Eastern Europe as well)? They’re so old and worn down by time that they look like hills. You’ll get to see them here, including the biggest one of them, Altantepe.

Enjoy the photos!