Maria Radna Basilica – the cultural gem on the Mureș Valley

The last day of 2015 was a beauty. Actually we couldn’t miss a small trip nearby 😀 We were longing for some sunshine after a week of fog and grey sky. 2015 was about to say a sunny and cold goodbye and welcome his big brother, 2016.

We remembered that Maria Radna Monastery has just been restored in 2015 and we never got to see it finished. We happened to pass by this place multiple times in the last few years but the building was always covered with scaffolding. So we decided pretty easily that this will be our destination in this last sunny day of 2015.

This monastery’s past lays over the last five centuries. The first church was built here by the Franciscan monks, which came from Bosnia, in 1520. In these times the land was ruled by the Ottomans. The latter attacked the church multiple times and thus it was rebuilt multiple times.

The current church dates back from 1752 and is built in Baroque style. It was finished in 1782. The buildings that form the compound were built in multiple stages. The stairs are very generous and are set in the side part of the church. You actually have to climb a little to get to the church entrance 🙂 Speaking about the church, it is very impressive especially due to its size and the two towers raising 67 m from the ground.

Maria Radna Monastery was granted the “Basilica Minor” title in 1992 by Pope John Paul the 2nd.

If the exterior is impressive be prepared to see one of the most beautiful church interiors that we’ve seen in Romania! The gigantic paintings that you can see on the side walls of the main hall, which depict biblical scenes, are amazing, perfectly made, in vibrant colors, of Renaissance style.

The main altar is made from marble brought from Carrara and it also the place where you can see the icon of Virgin Mary. This icon was miraculously saved during the fire the Ottomans set in 1695. It’s the only thing that survived the fire, or so the legend says 🙂 

There is no entrance fee. Even though it’s free you can lave some money in order for this place to be maintained as you see it now. Quite a lot of tourists come here but most of them are pilgrims. The biggest Catholic pilgrimage in the Banat region (SW Romania) takes place here every year on the 15th of August, the Saint Mary celebration.

People from Timișoara (50 km away) come here on foot in order to reach the small city of Lipova in Arad country where this beautiful monastery is. It’s incredible to see how determined people are to finish this hard trip on foot.

It takes a while to absorb the beauty of what you can find inside the church but there is more! Yes, outside, just behind the church you can go up the hill inside the forest on the so called “Cross Road“. It’s a commemoration of the road Jesus took before being put on the cross.

On the side of this road there are small statues depicting saints that contributed to Christianity during their lifetime. Unfortunately this park was not restored together with the church compound and is in a pretty bad shape 🙁

Lipova is a small town in Arad county as I said before. It’s better known for its mineral waters. Fortunately this beautiful peace of architecture was saved and was given life again! It’s a very peaceful place even though it’s right on the side of one of Romania’s most busy highways, DN7. Don’t hesitate to visit Maria Radna Basilica. It’s totally worth it! 🙂

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