Churches

Galata Monastery

The Galata Monastery was built between 1577 and 1584, at the initiative of Prince Petru Şchiopul. It was called “Galata from the hill”, compared to the old monastery situated “in the valley” that had collapsed shortly after its construction because of the unstable terrain.

The building was built as a fortress surrounded by a strong stone wall. Together with the bell tower, the monastery provided a place of refuge for the prince and his family, and the palace built by Petru Şchiopul was preserved on the premises. The year 1659 was extremely disturbing for the Galata monastery, which had become the royal residence of Gheorghe Ghica. The ruler of Walachia, Constantin Șerban, defeated the ruler of Moldavia, but the latter returned with the Tartar allies who occupied the monastery and threw the defeated people from the tower. In 1675 and 1799, plague epidemics in the city forced the rulers and courtiers to flee here. In 1799, Lord Constantine Ipsilanti built courtyards with two rows of houses in Galata and a palace in order to spend here the warm summers. His son, General Alexandru Ipsilanti, the leader of liberation movement Eteria, had the headquarters here for a while during the Greek Revolution of 1821. Later, Prince Mihail Sturdza (1834-1849) added another floor to the bell tower building, which is clearly delimited by the other two by a stone girdle. After the secularization of monasteries, the palace and annexed buildings were used as a military prison until 1923, then as a penitentiary until 1944, and so the sanctuary began to decline. Between 1961 and 1971, the ensemble was restored, the Royal Palace was partially rebuilt, and the ruins and cellars were preserved.

The Galata Church is characterized by architectonic elements that had not been encountered in Moldova until then: the replacement of the wall between the tomb and the nave with three arcades supported by columns, the illumination of the apses with three windows, the median girdle dividing the two façades and the secondary tower over the narthex. Until then, churches in Moldova had either a single tower (usually the voivode buildings) or none. The two octagonal towers rest on a square base and two stellate. Originally, the church had exterior frescoes that were ruined over time. Removal of the plaster revealed the Byzantine construction of sandstone and brick that alternate in horizontal layers. Also, the interior frescoes were destroyed after a fire in 1762. Only the votive painting on the northern wall and some representations of angels remained.

In the former Princely Palace there is a tailoring workshop of liturgical garments and also an embroidery workshop, as well as a monastery museum where old cult objects, city maps, fragments of the original fresco and seals of the metropolitan or city from 1650 can be seen. After 1990, Galata became a nunnery.

Strada Mănăstirii nr. 4, Iași 700616
Photo by Argenna – Wikipedia

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