Bârsana Monastery

Bârsana Monastery represents a monarchal complex, remarkable due to the concentration of artistic wooden sculptures original from the Maramures County, and it is one of the most beautiful and cared for monasteries in Maramures, visited daily by hundreds of tourists and pilgrims, from the country and from abroad, being a place that cannot miss from any touristic trail in the Maramures area.

"The Synod of the 12 Saint Apostles" belongs to the Romanian Orthodox Bishopy from Maramures and it is located in the Barsana municipality, one of the biggest administrations from Maramures county, located on the right shore of the Iza river.

The monarchal complex includes the wooden church, designed in the local authentic style, and all of the annexes of the monastery.


Bârsana monastery is close to the Iza River, and is located in the village called Bârsana, on the exit to Strâmtura, in the ethnographic area called Historical Maramures on the Iza Valley.


The monastery is located in the south-east of the town of Sighetu Marmației, 22 kilometers away, on the exit of Bârsana village, the road to the Slătioara Bridge, at the 17th kilometer of the County road D.J. 186.

  • The access by road is possible on several routes: D.J. 186, on the route Sighetu Marmației – Vadu Izei – Oncești – Bârsana; D.J. 186, from Săcel to Bogdan Vodă – Oncești – Bârsana; The route from Cavnic to Budești - Călinești - Bârsana.
  • Access by train is available through the train station from the town of Sighetu Marmației, the closest to Bârsana monastery.


Tourist objectives

Official Website: www.manastireabarsana.ro

Among the buildings of the monastery, the church, the museum and the workshops can be visited, while the nuns’ homes and the Voivodal Residence are restricted from the public access.

The entry tax is 1 ron/person, extra 5 ron are charged for photography and video access.

The access in the parking is free of charge.

The wooden church from Barsana, the old church, was built in 1711 and is named "The Entry of Virgin Mary in the church". It has been declared a historical site, and is included in the UNESCO world cultural heritage, since late 1999. This church cannot be confused with the new wooden church from the Barsana Complex, the two sites being located a few kilometers from one another.

The museum of religious paintings and ancient books Gavril of Barsana, is located in the south-eastern part of the monastery, close to the Bell Tower. It was built and designed for religious purposes and was officially launched on the June, 29, 2005.

The structure of the museum is divided between three levels: basement, ground floor and first floor; the ground floor houses an exhibition of paintings and religious books, and the workshops where the nuns are crafting carpets and where they paint; the basement covers the ethnographic exhibits. All the spaces have the appearance of a traditional house, the furnishings and the furniture having been created with local inspiration.

Inside the museum there is a rest place, the gazebo, a traditional Romanian architectural element, while the access to the first floor and basement is made through symmetrical stairs, which facilitate the visitation tour.

At the same time, considering that the museum is an attraction for tourists and pilgrims that are keen on finding new information about the religious and cultural past of the area, the museum has direct connection with the monastery, in a way that allows for the religious ceremonies to be performed without disruptions.
Among the museums’ exhibits there are also sacred books, dated from the XVI-XIX centuries, old religious paintings and a series of folkloric objects, all of them giving the collection a spiritual value.

The workshops of the monastery are also important touristic attractions. The two workshops, for painting and weaving, were established to preserve and spread the orthodox monarchal traditions.



In the past, there were two churches in Barsana, about 8 or 9 km apart. One of them was established in the south-eastern part of the territory, in the Slatina Valley, while the other was at the south-west, on the Humana hill, by the springs of the river named the Monastery Valley, during the XIV-th century, and named today "The Valley of the Border".

The establishment of the monastery from the Humana Hill was documented in a diploma from 21st of July 1390, apart from which no other documents connected to the monastery have been discovered, being generally acknowledged the fact that the monastery was destroyed in the XVIII-th century, after the destructive actions of the Uniation, that made several monasteries from Transylvania extinct.

The monastery from Slatina Valley was at fist a solitary residence in the place called "the monk’s hair", referred to by the tradition as bigger and more important that the one in Humana. The early days of the monastery can be placed in the XIII-XIV centuries, during the establishment of monks in the area, which have built residences here, and a wooden church, transformed later into a monastery. Because of the difficulty to access the monastery and the neighboring Iza River, with no bridges to cross over, the monastery was moved during the second half of the XIV-th century, from the Slatina Valley in a place located on the right shore of the valley, known as "The Bridges of the Narrowing". Tradition says that the relocation of the monastery could have been ordered only by a Voivode, and, from the existing proofs, this could only have been Balcu Voda, ruler of the Maramures County for over 30 years, the last big voivode of Maramures. This is why the monastery is also known as "voievodal monastery".

In the meantime, the prestige of the monastery as a home for Romanian spirituality has grown; despite being banned from foreign rulers, the monastery was in contact with other orthodox centers from Moldova and Romanian Country, from which religious and educative books were being brought, not only for the monastery, but also for neighboring churches. Between 1735 and 1740, the monastery from Barsana became the residency of the Romanian Orthodox Bishopy of Maramures; in 1740, this bishopy was officially dissolved, but the monks and the priests here were still trusting and following the orthodox belief after this date.
The monastery of Barsana had an important role in defending the ancient law and preserving and sharing the orthodox belief, during the Uniation action in the 1700, despite the pressure on worship places from the area, generated by the official expansion of the religious unification of Romanians with the roman Church, the monastery held out until 1791, when it was demolished, the monks were banished and had to find refuge at the Monastery from Neamt, Moldova. At that time, the monastery was devastated, the residencies were destroyed, along with all the annexes and the fortune was seized by the state and then offered to the greek-catholic monastery of Cernoc, while the terrain of the monastery was given to the Barsana church.

After the monastery was demolished, only the church and the abbey were intact, and in order to prevent the church from destruction, during 1806 the church was relocated inside the village, where it is also located now. Also, the abbey was also moved together with the church, and the confessional school functioned there for a while.

The place where "The Synod of the 12 Saint Apostoles" monastery was located was well administered during the times the church belonged to the Barsana parish, but after the Second World War, the place was confiscated. At that time, a new small village was formed, and on the other side of the field a new monastery was founded. The memory of the old monastery was not gone for the believers, as well as the desire to replace it, but the historical facts proved to be against these aspirations.

Because the communist regime was against establishing new convents, the monastery could only be reopened after 1989. This way, in 1993 the foundation stone of the new church was sanctified, and the name given to the church was established - "The Synod of the 12 Saint Apostoles".

The inspiration for the architecture of the new church was local tradition, all the buildings inside the monastery being built from oak wood and river stones by local handymen. This way, the survival of the local art of wood carving and joining was ensured, and the reconstruction of the monastery was considered a bridge between past and future, becoming a place of rebirth of faith.

Cultural events

The most important event and moment of religious life from the Barsana Monastery is the yearly celebration of the church, on 30th of June, when the Synod of the 12 Apostoles is celebrated. It is a time when tens of thousands of believers are gathered to pray with the High Priests and tens of priests.

The event represents an occasion to maintain good religious traditions, manifest spiritual serenity and reinforce faith.

Tourist reception structures

Housing structures
Name of structureType of structureCategoryNumber of roomsNumber of placesTownAdressPhone no
BÂRSANA villa 3 stars 21 42 Bârsana nr. 257 0262.331.020
BRADOVA camping houses 2 stars 5 10 Bârsana nr. 803 -
CERBUL CARPATIN guesthouse 2 flowers 6 13 Bârsana nr. 279 0262.331.212, 0765.497.836
IZA chalet guest 3 stars 6 12 Bârsana nr. 281 -
LIA guesthouse 3 flowers 3 6 Bârsana nr. 139 0740.458.180
TRANDAFIRUL ALBASTRU guesthouse 2 flowers 9 23 Bârsana nr. 709 0262.331.028
VALEA BRÂNZEI rural guesthouse 3 flowers 6 12 Năneşti Com. Bârsana, Sat Nănești nr. 107/A -
Also, the tourists and pilgrims that visit Barsana monastery can be hosted at the monastery, from May to September, the hosting facilities are open, and offer rooms with up to 30 beds and shared bathrooms. More information on hosting can be obtained at the monastery’s phone numbers (0262.331.020 / 0262.331.101), contact person Monahia Iustiniana (phone no. 0735.882.027).

Food structures
Name of structureType of structureCategoryNumber of placesTownAdressPhone no
BÂRSANA self-service restaurant 3 stars 50 Bârsana nr. 257 -
BÂRSANA pension restaurant 3 stars 450 Bârsana nr. 257 -
BRADOVA day bari 1 star 25 Bârsana Sat Bârsana, nr.. 803, Căsuţe 0746.993.061

Touristic trails

At present no touristic trails are marked in the area of the monastery, but the pilgrims and tourists can take walks on the neighbouring fields and forests, along with the hosts from the local guesthouses.


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