Stavropoleos Church was built in 1724, during the reign of Nicholas Mavrocordatos (Prince of Wallachia, 1719-1730), by the archimandrite Ioannikios Stratonikeas, a Greek monk from Pogoniani. Within the precinct of his inn, Ioannikios built the church, and a monastery which was economically sustained with the incomes from the inn (a relatively common situation in those times). In 1726 abbot Ioannikios was elected metropolitan of Stavropolis and exarch of Caria. Since then the monastery he built is named Stavropoleos, after the name of the old seat. On February 7, 1742 Ioannikios, aged 61, died and was buried in his church.
Stavropoleos Church is a masterpiece of the late Brancovenesc style from the early 18th century. This original style appeared in Southern Romania and developed especially during the reign of Prince Constantin Brancoveanu (1688-1714), a patron of several churches and monasteries in the region, including the Monastery of Horezu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This style combines local, Oriental, Byzantine, and late Italian Renaissance elements. It’s an authentic synthesis of the influences that shaped the cultural life of the region during the time of this prince, celebrated by the Romanian Orthodox Church as a saint.
The inn and the monastery’s annexes were demolished at the end of 19th century. Over time the church suffered from earthquakes, which caused the dome to fall. The dome’s paintings were restored at the beginning of the 20th century.
All that remains from the original monastery is the church, alongside a building from the beginning of the 20th century which shelters a library, a conference room and a collection of old (early 18th century) icons and ecclesiastical objects, and parts of wall paintings recovered from churches demolished during the communist regime. This new building was constructed following the plans of architect Ion Mincu.
The church has been pastored since 1991 by father Iustin Marchiş, the first hieromonk of the church in the last century. The community living here, besides routine worship, is engaged in renovating old books, icons and sacerdotal clothes. The choir of the church sings (neo-)Byzantine music (a single voice part, sustained by a prolonged sound called ison – approx. translation: accompaniment -, or tonic note), now a rare occurrence for churches in Romania.
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