At Curtea de Arges, placed at approx. 200 km north-west of Bucharest you will find, not only the place of the first capital of Valachia, but also a beautifull church of the Monastery Curtea de Arges. The church was built originally in 1512 and then repaired and renovated around 1900 by the King Carol I .
Inside the church you will find on the right hand side the graves of Carol I and his wife Ecaterina, first King and Queen of Romania, from the Hohenzollern - Sigmaringen dynasty, and on the left hand side the graves of King Ferdinand I - The Faithful (to Romania) and his wife, Queen Mary. Above the door on the left is painted the image of the King who made the plans for the church and also renovated it and on the right his wife with a big Gospel in her hands. It is a gospel made by her with golden wires, which can be seen in a shop window at the feet of her tombstone. Near it, on the left, is the grave of Neagoe Basarab the ruler, which was made in 1514. Now he has become a saint in our church and that is why you will see his icons right there.
If you look carefully around you will see the 12 pillars sustaining the roof, the same number of the apostles. In between the pillars were thrones and above them large icons wich were closing a space like a second temple inside of the temple ( church) after the model of the greek temples.
The rest of the church is built in a classical Byzantine and Romanian way. The legend of the artisan Manole
These are the first rhymes of the legend:
„Down on the Arges River, on a beautiful beach,
The Black Ruler passes, with 10 companions,
Nine famous masters, journeymen and masons,
Manole is tenth and the best of them“
He was passing by seeking a good place to build a church, the most beautiful in the whole world. When he discovered it he hired 10 artisans led by Manole, the best among them.
They started to build the church but everything that they built during the day collapsed during the night. Bad artisans you would say. Not so. In one night an angel sent by God appeared in his dream and told him that the church would be ready only when they buried alive within the walls the first wife that came the next morning to bring them food.
Next morning the first wife that showed up was Manole’s wife. He was forced to bury alive his wife between the walls (you can actually see the place on the southern wall marked with red paint) and then the church was finished.
When the ruler came to see the completed construction he realized that it was a very beautiful church. He then gave orders to his men to take away all the stairs around the church and let Manole up on the roof. He wanted him to not be able to leave that place and build another church more beautiful than this one.
Desperately, Manole who sacrificed everything for the church built for himself some wooden wings and tried to fly away from the roof of the church. He fell down and died and in the place where he died, a well with sweet and good water appeared. The well still exists.
Interpretation: This is a story about the self- sacrifice, sacrificing something you care about in order to accomplish a goal. A very easy example: for this holiday you saved money instead of buying something, you sacrificed to be able to come here.
In a theological interpretation, is not difficult to observe that the name Manole came from Emanuel, which means - God is with us. In fact, the „artisan“ built a church exactly as Christ did on earth: The Christian Church. Like Jesus, Manole died in the end, but where he died a well with sweet water appeared. It is a brilliant correlation with Jesus’ words: „The one who will drink from the water which I will give to the world, will never be thirsty… Because a source of living water will appear in him“.
To fulfill his work, Manole buried alive within the church walls his beloved wife Ana (the name comes from the Hebrew word „hannan“ = charity, gift), this way making the most important sacrifice for God.