Golia Monastery

The monastic ensemble of Golia Monastery is comprised of the “Lord’s Ascension” church, an iconic square tower, fortified outer walls with four circular towers in the corners, a water house, a house with columns where Ion Creangă lived temporarily and an abbey with the “Virgin Mary’s girdle” chapel.

The name comes from the chancellor Ioan Golia who built a religious dwelling in the 16th century. Throughout time, the monument became a ruin, but between 1650-1653, the Prince of Moldavia, Vasile Lupu built the church we see today. In 1672 the four circular towers of the defense wall were added and the steeple was consolidated. In 1855 the tower was over-raised by 20 m, reaching almost 50 m, but the height and the weight triggered cracks and it was at risk of collapse. It was restored to its initial size in 1900, after the intervention of King Charles I.

The exterior design of the church was influenced by late Renaissance, a style which reached Iași through Galicia: an edifice of classical type, polished stone blocks, framed by Corinthian pillars (with acanthus leaves capitals) and crenelated cornice sustained by consoles. On the roof, there are many towers and domes arranged in line and sustained by arches, called kokoshniki. With an octagonal base, the towers have Wallachian adornment and Oriental motifs.

The access doors from the porch and towards the pronaos are surrounded by a beautiful marble sculpture, with Moldavia’s Coat of Arms. In the pavement of the pronaos, the most embellished tombstone is the white marble one of Sultana (1763), the wife of Voivode Constantin Racoviță, situated on the place of the founder’s coffin, Ioan and Ana Golia. One the most valuable objects is the chandelier of the pronaos, with Vasile Lupu’s monogram (BBZM) and the four candlesticks in front of the altar, donations of the voivode. The chandelier in the nave is a gift from Russia’s Tsar Peter the Great who visited the church in June 1711 and who was deeply impressed by its greatness. The initial painting made by an artisan called Matei is preserved in the porch. The nave painting dates back to 1754 and parts of the paintings in the nave and the altar were restored in 1838. At the entrance, on the pronaos’ wall, a commemorative painting shows the founders of the church – Prince Ieremia Movilă and the Golia family to the north, and the family of Voivode Vasile Lupu to the south.

The tower of Golia, 29 m tall, is located at the entrance. It has three floors, secret chambers and a spiral stairway with 120 steps. It is the only steeple in the country with a top terrace, open to the public. Throughout time it served as access to the patrol walls, as a prison, as the archive’s headquarters, and today, the halls shelter art exhibitions. Near the tower we can see the first water house in Iași, with a Turkish fountain on the outer wall, built around 1805 during the reign of Prince Alexandru Moruzi.  This is also the place where Radio Trinitas, the official radio of the Romanian Orthodox Church, was founded in the 1990s. The column house, built in the 18th century, where Ion Creangă lived temporarily, hosts a small ethnographic museum dedicated to the writer.

Strada Cuza Vodă nr. 51, Iași 700040
Photo by