Bucovina, Botoșani, Romania
The Painted MonasteriesSet amidst the hilly forests of northeastern Romania, the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina are some of the most spectacular works of art and architecture in the world. (This is not hyperbole).
The exterior walls are covered with vibrant Byzantine frescoes of Biblical stories. Although they were painted in the 15th and 16th centuries, they are as vivid today as they were then. The monasteries were painted to teach illiterate villagers about the Bible and the lives of Orthodox Saints.
Of the five best known, the most famous is Voronet, also called the "Sistine Chapel of the East. Voronet's blue background, made out of crushed lapus lazuli, lends its name to the color "Voronet Blue."
Others include Moldovita with its depiction of the Siege of Constantinople; Sucevita (pictured), notable for its depiction of Jacob's Ladder and Humor known for its rich reddish-brown hues and depiction of the Devil as the "Scarlet Woman." All are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.