Dealu Monastery

Dealu Monastery is a 15th century monastery in Dâmboviţa County, Romania. The name of the monastery is given by its geographical position. At the beginning it was frequently called in the medieval sources “Saint Nicholas Church from the hill” (hill = deal) or “The Church at Dealu”. One of the most remarkable architectonic edifices from our country, the monastery was built in a time of great artistic prosperity and reflects both from the structural point of view and decorative plastic art point of view the creative contribution brought by the native artists in order for them to promote the Romanian architecture. It lies near Târgovişte, 4 km North-West away from the city, on the opposite bank of Ialomiţa Valley. At present Dealu is a monastery for nuns, the celebration day of the church being St. Nicholas Day and the celebration day of the chapel being The Refuge of the Virgin.

The monastery existed at 17 November 1431, when the ruling prince Alexandru Vodă Aldea give to it two villages, Alexeni and Răzvad, for the remembrance of Mircea the Old, the father of the intending builder. At 28 March 1451, Vladislav II gave to the monastery other 3 halfs of villages, as well as the Bratei Mountain, wich prove that, from this era, existed here a great and rich monastery. At his death, in 1456, he was buried in this monastery, becomed afterward a regency necropolis. The sanctuary at Dealu was from the beginning a royal necropolis probably because of its position near the city Târgovişte (former capital of Wallachia). This first building from Dealu vanished, being replaced with another in the time of ruling prince Radu the Great (1495 - 1508). So, Radu the Great "begun to build and to renew and from the foundation he raised with all the wealth and with great beauty he beautified this titular saint". The workmanship begun at 26 august 1499, like it's showed on a inscription remained from the old bell tower of the monastery ; at first were reconstructed the buildings of the monastery and the after the minster(monastery church). The halidom was sanctified at 4 December 1501. Radu the Great died before the completion of the magnificent building of Dealu; those that continued the workmanship were the voivodes (ruling princes) Vlăduţ and, afterward, Neagoe Basarab (1512 - 1521), the regnant so linked to the Târgovişte history trought his buildings. In this period the church amazed contemporaneity trough its splendor.

In 1603 here was brought, trought the care of boyar Radu Buzescu, the head of ruling prince Mihai the Brave, killed dastardly at Câmpia Turzii. On the ledger that covers the head of the great hero, clucerul (title) Buzescu put to be carved this beautiful inscription : "Here lie the honest and defunct head of the christian Mihail , the great voivode, that was the lord of The Romanian Country and Transilvania and Moldova; the honorable body lie on Câmpia Turzii. And when the Germanes killed him the years were (1601), in the month of august 8 days. This ledger was put by jupan (title) Radu Buzescu and jupăniţa (title) ego Preda".

After the regency of Mihai the Brave, Dealu Monastery suffered because of the armies of the transylvanian prince Gabriel Báthory, that entered unexpected in the country, in december 1610. How tell the ex-metropolitan Matei, the egumen of the monastery at that time, the soldiers stole "all the jewels" of the church, "breaking the regnant graves... and spoiling the church ledgers", hoping to find treasures here; with the same opportunity was taken also the lead that covered the church. At 1614 Radu Vodă Mihnea (1611 - 1616) visited the monastery and found the local "decayed and crecked and depleted and lootered and caving with all by the Hungarians". Hereby the voivode gave the monastery Satul Nou, tax-free, from which revenue (100 golden coins each year) the monks should "reinforce and refit the holy monastery". The great voivode Constantin Brîncoveanu didn't undervalued the Dealu Monastery, he made to the church a new paint "all over", as well as a new carpentry. After a harsh period for the monastery, in the first half of the XIX century, when it was affected by the earthquakes from 1802 and 1838, was restored by voivode George Bibescu between the years 1844 - 1854. During the Independence War in 1877 a camp for a detachment of Turkish prisoners functioned here. In the year 1879, in the new monastery buildings, was opened "The Officer Division School", after that, at 1890 - 1891 "The Army Arsenal", at the beginning of the XIX century "The Troop Children School", and in 1912 "The Military High School Nicolae Filipescu". With this last opportunity, the sanctums were replaced with new buildings, from the old buildings remaining only the church.

The only thing of great value that has lasted over the years is the church, whose external aspect catches the visitors’ attention because it’s attractive and tremendous. The sanctuary was conceived after the traditional type of building known in Wallachia in the second half of the 14th century, type that was used in the construction of the Vodiţa and Cozia monasteries. The local master masons succeeded in bringing innovative changes to the style of building through their skillful processing. The church is built of bricks and mortar, with lasting walls which are more than 1 meter thick. The proportions of the sanctuary are also impressing.

The altar (being heptagonal on the outside and semicircular on the inside) is arched in a shape of a semi-acolade extended with a cradle. The chamber is delimited from the nave through a catapetasma made of carved wood, done after the model of the one from the Episcopal Church in Argeş. Sidewise to it, the wall withdraws on its both sides, which end at the limit of the two arches joined to the walls at the Northern and Southern side from the nave. In the Eastern part, one may see a large stone girdle, with a decorative motif, girdle which can be a pedestal for various items.

In the nave (naos), on its Southern and Northern sides, one may see two circular apses on the inside and two pentagonal apses on the outside which are also arched with a semi-acolade. The nave is delimited from the pronaos through a wall on which a marble ornamented frame is kept, frame which is looks like the one at the entrance door in the church. The pronaos has a rectangular prism shape and it’s divided in two unequal parts through a double-transverse arch. Above the pronaos there are two towers, built on both sides of the longitudinal axle of the church, characteristic that hadn’t occurred in Romanian architecture till the time the church was built. On the outside, the decorative plastic art was totally new for the edifices from Wallachia at that time.

An important moment for the monastery was the bringing of the royal printing office, which was moved afterward to Târgovişte. Beside manuscripts and printed works, just a few items offered by founders were kept at Dealu Monastery, because of the robberies of the foreign troops.

Today, in the church, one may see a big carved wood cross, covered with golden silver, cross which was offered by the ruler Matei Basarab in 1648-1649 (from Romanian Monasteries and Hotel Dâmboviţa).