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Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania

Celebrations: The Ascension of the Lord, The Healing Spring, The Holy Trinity
Address: 51 Cuza Voda Street, Iasi, Romania

An old foundation of the great boyar Ioan Golia (the XVIth century) the church of the "Ascension of the Lord" was rebuilt on a greater scale by Prince Vasile Lupu between 1650 and 1653 and completed by his son Stefanita. "Brilliant and richly arrayed" the church appears as a monumental construction which entwines, as the Tsar Peter the Great who visited it in 1711 put it "three kinds of crafts: the Iasi craft, the Greek craft and the Russian craft".

The exterior betrays the influence of the late Renaissance through Galitia: a classical edifice, made of polished stone blocks, guarded by Corinthian pilasters (with Acanthus capitals) and a baroque cornice sustained by consoles. The roof consists of an assemblage of towers, turrets and domes disposed in a line and sustained by superposed arches (kokoshniki). Having an octagonal base, the turrets present ornamental innovations, with Muntenia decorations and oriental motifs which rather reflect a "Tsarigrad profoundness".

The Moldavian traditional interior contrasts with the classical facades, copying the structure of "Trei Ierarhi", but with the lateral apses "sunk" in the wall, with a choir balcony in the vestibule - unique in the XVIIth century Moldavia - and with rich oriental frames around the two church doors.

George Calinescu, the writer, expresses his admiration for it: "The Golia church obtains shadow-light effects from classical elements; its Renaissant style is obvious. The church is made of white stone, the windows have small pilasters, triangular and circular frontons; outside, it is supported by fake pilasters with rich Corinthian capitals, so that the whole resembles a marmored leafage with a cornice of modillons above. High up, steeples of different sizes raise on three successive tambours; everything is now orientally ornamented with fake niches shaped like clubs, ogives and tree-cusped arches. Massive walls and a parallelepipedic stone tower guard this white phantom, full of imagination".

The painting, restored several times, preserves few original frescos in the recesses of the lateral apses and in the vestibule

From the original furniture were preserved: the princely thrones, a lustre with Prince Vasile Lupu's engravings and four candlesticks ordered in Denmark. A beautiful iconostasis dates from the year 1838.

The necropolis aspect of the "Lady's church" - as it was named in its epoch - is rendered by the many tombs and funeral stones in the vestibule and pronaos.

Damaged in the fires of 1687, 1732, 1822 and seriously affected by an earthquake in 1738 the church of the monastery underwent numerous restorations.

The precinct of the monastery is surrounded by a tall wall, with corner turrets raised in 1667 and with a bell tower rebuilt in 1900, about which Paul of Alep wrote that it was "unparalleled in all these countries by its height, largeness and grandeur". The Golia tower is 30 metres high. The visitor who wants to have a bird's eye view on the city must climb the 120 steps. Having the base square-shaped (5 metres long on the side), a ground floor, two vaulted stories, a belfry, an upper gallery and terraces, the tower is one of the symbols of Iasi. It used to be higher around 1890, and had a balcony at the upper part. A fireman used to patrol there to notice and report any possible fire at once. Nowadays, the tower remains one of the privileged places from where the pilgrim can contemplate the "city of the seven hills".

Close to the tower we meet a pumping station dating from the time of Alexandru Moruzi. Within the monastery we may also see a colonnade house from the XVIIIth century in which temporarily lived Ion Creanga and the starets' house which shelters the chapel of the "Girdle of the Mother of God", built in the XIXth century by the superior Father Grigorie.

The Golia Monastery, "a great wonder and a jewel of the city of Iasi", dedicated to the Vatopedu Monastery in Mount Athos, was administered mostly by Greek superiors. Among them two Metropolitans: Gerasimos of Sevastia, mentioned in 1761, his rank coming immediately after that of the Metropolitan of the country, and Gregorios of Irinopoleos in the XIXth century. After the burning of the princely courts in 1786 it even became a metropolitan residence and Prince Gavriil Calimachi moved here for the last years of his life.

A witness to major events of that epoch, among which the bringing of Prince Potemkin's body in 1791, whose viscera were buried in the church, or the burial of the first native ruler after the Phanar princes, Ioan Sandu Sturdza in 1842, the Golia church is mostly known as a church of weddings. This tradition was established in the XVIIth, when the Patriarch of Tsarigrad, James celebrated here the princely wedding services of Constantin Duca and Maria Brāncoveanu in 1693 and of Antioch Cantemir and Catrina in 1696.

Gone to ruin after the secularisation (1863), the monastery was closed between 1900-1947, subsequently becoming a parish church until 1992, when it eventually became a missionary monastery again.

Of course, the celebration day of the Holy Trinity is now the third consecration of this monastery.

Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (1) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (2) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (3) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (4) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (5)
Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (6) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (7) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (8) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (9) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (10)
Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (11) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (12) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (13) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (14) Golia Monastery, Iasi, Romania (15)

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