History The Stavropoleos Church was built by Archimandrite Ioanichie in 1724, during the second reign of Nicolae Mavrocordat (1719-1730) in the Romanian Land. Born in the village of Ostanitza in the eparchy of Pogoniana (Epirus), Ioanichie came to the Romanian Land from Gura, a dependent monastery of the Pogoniana Archbishopric. The present church was built by Ioanichie within the precincts of the two-storey inn he had established in Bucharest. The monastery he founded was sustained financially by the inn, a common arrangement during the epoch.
In 1726, Abbot Ioanichie was elected Metropolitan of Stavropoleos and Exarch of the Karia region. At this time, the monastery which he had built was given the title Stavropoleos, after the name of the old metropolis (bishopďż˝s see).
Of the original monastery and inn buildings, only the church has been preserved. It represents one of the most outstanding examples of the Brincoveanu style.
The other buildings that can be seen today are the result of an extensive restoration and building project begun in 1897 by well-known architect Ion Mincu. Stavropoleos Church The church is located in the old centre of the capital, near the old Hospodar Court and also the Doamna, Coltea and St. George churches, which are foundations dating from the time of Constantin Brâncoveanu. It is regarded by art historians as a synthesis, on a small scale, of Br�ncoveanu architecture and decoration. The church was built with a cupola, on a quadrilateral plan. Lateral apses and a porch on the west fa�ade were later added, giving the church the triconch form characteristic of Muntenian architecture. Viewed from the exterior, the church is elegantly and harmoniously proportioned, and has a wealth of stone carvings. The facade is decorated with medallions framed by vegetal decorative motifs, which stretch into arches whose form is reminiscent of oriental architecture. In 1733, when the inn church became a monastery church, an event recorded in the pisanie (votive stone), the porch, which in its arches harmoniously continues the decoration of the fa�ade, had already been added. The new precincts, built to the plans of architect Ion Mincu at the beginning of the twentieth century, were to take up the same
decorative system in the colonnade of the portico and in the buildings along the south and west sides, constructed in the neo-Romanian style of the time. All the elements of the facade sculpture, stucco-work and, in particular, the frescoes � masterfully complement and blend with each other, producing an original synthesis, echoed in other churches in the capital. In the exterior decoration, experts have noted the baroque sensibility and oriental taste specific to Br�ncoveanu art and, in the sculpted decoration of the porch, elements also occurring in the baroque sculpture of Transylvania. In its carving and composition, the central scene on the parapet of the porch, Samson and the lion, is an obvious testimony to baroque influence. It is a symbolic representation of the resurrected Christ�s triumph over death. The stone ornamentation of Stavropoleos recalls the loggias of the Br�ncoveanu palace at Mogo�oaia, as well as the columns of the now demolished V�c�re�ti Monastery. The rich baroque decoration, painting and sculpture of the Stavropoleos ensemble served as a model not only for other churches but also for secular constructions. In its proportions, Archimandrite Ioanichie�s church resembles the churches at the Hurezi Monastery complex, while in its plane geometry it recalls the villages and monasteries of the Epirus, the founder�s native region. Although of modest dimensions, within the interior a monumental sense of space is created, which is enhanced by the cupola, rebuilt at the beginning of the twentieth century. Its monumental aspect inscribes Stavropoleos Church within the Muntenian tradition of the time and also the Byzantine tradition. The painting was completed in two stages: the interior and porch fa�ade in 1784, and the lateral apses, altar, inner porch and church fa�ade around 1730 This is evident in the votive picture, where the church has the original square plan, but especially in the different styles of the fresco painters. In the choice of iconography there occur elements common to Romanian Land monastery churches at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Two aspects of the ensemble stand out in particular, namely the frescoes on the west wall of the nave and on the conch in the north apse of the nave. In the first case, there is a parallel between important events in the life of the Saviour and the life of the Virgin Mary: Christ in the Temple and the Virgin Mary`s Entry into the Temple; then the Crucifixion and the Death of the Virgin Mary; and finally the Women at the Sepulchre and the Empty Sepulchre of the Virgin Mary. The second aspect relates to the scene of the Resurrection in the north apse of the nave, which combines three events within a single scene: the Harrowing of Hell, the Resurrection proper and Christ rising from the Holy Sepulchre. Two scenes are taken from the Byzantine canon, while the other is of western inspiration. We may suppose either that the painters were monks or that they were guided by the founder, who was knowledgeable not only on the dogma of incarnation but also on epochal interpretations of iconographic motifs. The cupola preserves only the basis of the original picture, the rest having been painted at the end of the nineteenth century by the priest Vasile Damian. It reproduces the initial composition of the subject of the Angelic Liturgy, which integrates harmoniously into the painting of the nave. Traditionally, the frame of the iconostasis represents the genealogy of the Saviour, or the Tree of Jesse. Jesse is depicted lying at the base of the ornamental structure, and from his
body sprout the three shoots that divide the three registers of the iconostasis. Above Jesse there are the twelve icons representing the high feasts of the Saviour and the Virgin Mary. The middle register depicts the twelve Apostles, with the Deisis in the centre, while the Crucifixion appears in the centre of the lower register. The upper register of the iconostasis is dedicated to the Messianic Prophets, above whom is enthroned Jesus on the Cross, with the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist on either side. In the very centre of the sculpted decoration the attentive observer will descry the bicephalous eagle, the emblem of Byzantium. Above it is placed the eagle with a cross in its beak, the escutcheon of the Romanian Land, which also occurs in churches in Wallachia or south of the Danube, recalling Romanian links to Byzantium and the connexions of the Phanariot rulers with the imperial Byzantine family. To see the icons click on each icon from the next image:
The church interior
Medalion with the Apostle, 1724
The inner court of the monastery