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Founded under the reign of Matei Basarab by high-ranking court official Dragomir, the Plaviceni Monastery is located close to the boundary between the counties of Teleorman and Olt. It has quite an interesting story, although it is currently more like a ruin.

Photo credit: (c) Luiza ABU-SALEM / AGERPRES PHOTO

‘The Plaviceni Monastery was certainly built under ruler Matei Basarab by high-ranking court official Dragomir and his wife, a next of kin of the ruler. The monastery operated for quite some time, but toward the end of the 18th century and then in the 19th century it was greatly damaged, especially by a strong earthquake of 1802, when part of the building collapsed. Little by little, it was turned in a church and then it became a ruin. Its reconstruction started only in 1990, but it was hard to carry out. The Plaviceni Monastery is unique in this part of Teleorman because we did not have such monasteries and it is also the best preserved. It is located more than 12km from the village of Dudu, on the banks of the Olt,’ says Director of the Teleorman Directorate for Culture and Heritage Constantin Tantariu.

The Plaviceni Monastery is also known as the Alunisul Monastery. Legend has it that the monastery was founded by Lady Stanca, the wife of ruler Michael the Brave who, as she was fleeing from the Ottomans, she climbed up a tall hazelnut tree in the area to hide. To show her gratitude to God, she erected the church and she left the trunk of the hazelnut tree there to be used as an altar, and later on governor Dragomir had the church built on the site. Hence the name of the Alunis Monastery [alunis is Romanian for hazelnut tree forest]. Some occurrences have made the believers believe in the existence of a tomb in the monastery’s yard that would contain remains of the Michael the Brave’s body.

Archaeological diggings have revealed that the monastery founded by Dragomir was built atop of the foundation of an old, probably wooden church. With the death of the founder in 1652 who had no heirs, the monastery was handed over to the care of his relative Radu Cretulescu, who owned land in the area.

‘It was built toward mid-17th century, but because of the vicissitudes of weather and location, it was abandoned and re-founded in the early 19th century. The monastery and the land earmarked went into the possession of the Cretulescu Foundation, and later on, after the time of ruler Cuza, it was abandoned again and fell into disrepair. Left of the old monastery now are only the ruins of its church with traces of paintings, a part of the interior wall and the belfry at the entrance. The rest of the monastery’s building is no more. There are no more traces of its walls. Because of the wish to capitalise on this historical building, the Culture Ministry has invested in remaking the monastic life of the place, and currently there is only a small community of monks living and protecting the investment conducted,’ says Bishop Galaction Stanga of Alexandria and Teleorman.

Believers who dare to head for the Plaviceni Monastery have a hard journey ahead. Coming from Alexandria to Turnu Magureal, beyond the commune of Plopii Slavitesti, the monastery lies at the end of a road that crosses a nearby forest. Some kilometres before reaching the monastery, an old cross mentions the name and the age of the monastery that lies right in the middle of a field. AGERPRES

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