Chiajna Monastery and its site could be considered a quite popular mystical destination for some locals from around Bucharest or even Romania, due to the fact that is situated on the outskirts of a North-Western Bucharest neighborhood , as well as for some interesting facts and urban legends surrounding its history.

Its popularity derives from the fact that it is situated in between areas of  a garbage dump, a railway and a cemetery, nothing but a ruin of bricks with a remaining top covered in grass.

Ion Dumitru

Photo by Ion Dumitru

 

Nowadays the monastery`s site is enclosed by a fence that prohibits the taking of its image. It is known that it is a historical monument under protection. Back then it was built in a unique Romanian neo-classical architectural style by the Romanian-Saxon expert Johannes Ratner, as some religious newspaper websites claim.

Manastirea Chiajna 1

Chiajna monastery is dating back to the Phanariot age, also known as the Greek origin government of Wallachia, according to Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga.  Its construction began under the rule of Alexandru Voda Ispilanti (b.1725-d.1807) and the church of the monastery was finished under tyrant Nicolae Mavrogheni, between April 1786  and September 1790.

Alexandru Voda Ispilanti

 

mavrogheni_trasura_cerbi

 

It was marked on some of the first international cartographic documents attesting the existence of Bucharest from late 18th century, an Austrian map from the year 1791.

Having a length of 43m and a 17m height, and 2 meters thick walls, the monastery maintains a remarkable place among local legends. The Church was never used because it was under heavy Ottoman siege just before receiving its blessing. Monachal life was abandoned during the plague. The Metropolitan Bishop Cosma Popescu, one of the leaders of the Orthodox Church of Wallachia, was caught during that period inside the church, having been ill himself, he died there, and the priests threw the biggest bell in the Dambovita river to cast away a spell they believe existed.

Besides the fact that the Ottoman Empire soldiers burnt the interior of the Church before the start of its divination and sheltered many people during the 1790s plague the steady bricks of its main structure managed to survive the 1977 earthquake, which escalated to 7.2 degrees on the Richter scale, completely destroying the dome of the church.

Popular culture also brings a couple of tributes to the monastery, two music videos were shot on location: a rap song and a manea (Romanian Roma music genre) one.

A poet, many people think of  as Romania`s national poet, Mihai Eminescu (b.1850-d.1889) by his name, wrote some lyrics about Chiajna Monastery in a poem called Melancholy.

The church, a ruin lorn,
Is bowed and sad and empty, a place of shadows mourn;
And through its gaping windows a moaning breeze is heard,
As though grey witches whispered and one could hear their word.
On pillars and on altar, and painted walls remain
Naught but the gloomy contours on which time spreads its stain.
For priest a cricket chirps a sermon fine, obscure;
For sexton digs a wood worm eternal sepulcher.

Mihai Eminescu – Melancholy, translated by Corneliu M. Popescu