During one late weekend afternoon, my steps were guided towards a less known place near Bucharest – the Barefooted Carmelites Priests Monastery in Snagov. The name of the Carmelites Catholic order comes from Mount Carmel in Israel, the name itself means “garden”. As you enter the main alley, the tower of the monastery rises in front of you, uniting a building that holds the spirit of the pyramid and the air of a modern building.
Although I don’t have any special connection with the church, the experience of visiting the monastery in Snagov impressed me through the architectural complex, I found a modern but classic style, fine filtered natural light, totally unconventional spaces. The architecture of the ensemble is special, it was considered “the most architecturally and theologically success among the modern religious constructions in Europe”.
When we parked to the right of the church, we discovered an area where different species and sizes of plants grew in a nursery; I later found out that they are for sale. After a week from the visit, we returned to buy some plants for our yard, I could feel the heart and passion put in the garden, and the prices were very good.
I walked around the chapel in search of an entrance, the main door (which turned out to be locked) windows showed me a space that I wanted to look into closely. The curiosity helped me find a side door that opened in a warm space, generous in size, with a light that cuddles you gently, both because of the wide windows and the precious spaces decorated in the mosaic, which reminded me of the colors and the style of Gustav Klimt’s works.
I liked the wood inside the chapel, it gave me a feeling of warmth, a return to nature. When you raise your eyes to the lighted vault, you meet a modern crucifix and an open, almost transparent altar – on which the mosaic rests artistically. Unlike the Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna, for example, the ones here are created in golden tones, melt in the heat of wood and irradiate in space. The natural marble floor has a zebra pattern that makes the transition from dark to light. The metal of the pounds from the balcony takes us to the world of music and diminishes the massive structure. I have not seen church glasses like these: they have naivete, finesse, suggesting an art form of sand, being painted in yellow tones. They are the work of Father Marko Rupnik, he also signs the mosaics which were prepared in the Bakart workshops in Zagreb, Croatia.
We went out on the lawn in front of the church to explore more. In that moment, a lateral door opened wide, leaving in its space the smiling face of a monk stretching out his hand towards us – he was priest Antonio and invited us in. Of Italian origin, but speaking impeccably Romanian, the priest told us that there are four monks who take care of the monastery, sometimes they even host events and pilgrims can sleep here. I visited several rooms, including the inner gardens, the dining room and the library. We have discovered that there are culinary products made in the monastery or imported from Italy and we could not retain from buying pasta that proved to be delicious.
I was impressed by this little piece of heaven, it was the nicest surprise that I’ve had in a long time. Just jump in the car, set up the GPS and let it guide you!
Location: Coming from Bucharest, on DN, turn right to Ghermanesti-Snagov and 2-3 km from the intersection, in Ciofliceni – with the open gates waiting for you is the Carmelite Monastery on the right side of the road. Open the map of your location in Google Maps.
Facebook: Queen of Carmel.
Photo sources: Zenoa, Internet.