Metaneira is a publishing house established in 2001 in Finland, and with a branch office in Romania. We specialize in Eastern European cultural heritage and sustainable tourism development, and our present focus of interest is Romania with particular regard to the regions of Bucovina and Maramures. We believe that this beautiful and unusual country, where the modern challenges the old, and the traditional way of living is changing fast, should be known better. Our aim is therefore to write and publish excellent full-colour books on a wide variety of cultural heritage subjects from mural paintings and archaeology to architecture and local traditions. We would like to offer them to all who are interested in this fascinating corner of Eastern Europe, both to those who plan to travel and need practical information, and to those who prefer to stay at home while learning something new in an enjoyable way.
Our publications describe, in a simple but exhaustive manner, what cultural heritage sites show and what was their meaning when they were created, not forgetting the people who have a living relationship with them. They fall into two categories: very detailed guidebooks and large-format album books where the stress is in the combination of photographs and accurate information.
Each book is the result of the work of a whole team of dedicated people. Photographers travel around the regions of Bucovina and Maramures taking pictures of churches and monasteries, not forgetting the people in the surrounding villages. Experts in the subject write the more specific texts, while our writers do the background research, reinterpret the scientific facts into a more understandable language, and travel to gather living information from the villages. Draughtsmen illustrate the customs, houses and monuments, while special line drawings are made to explain the biblical stories told on the walls and facades of the churches. Computer specialists produce maps, 3D models of the monuments, and rectified photographs and drawings of the mural paintings. All of this takes months and years to do, and finally the material can be edited.
Metaneira’s programme, which includes not only books, but also DVDs, is also aimed at increasing the level of knowledge of Romanian cultural heritage abroad. People interested in the topic exist and visit the sights, but the available information is rudimentary or lacking. We believe that our range of album books, specialized guidebooks and DVDs fills the gap. Such an ambitious programme has been so far supported with our enthusiasm and private funds. To be able to publish the remaining books, we need more funds. All of you who buy the already available book on Bucovina make it possible to reach the set goal. Your love for Romania and your support means that we can gather more information, unearth more “jewels” and let everyone know about them!
Thank you all!
The Restoration of the Probota Monastery
The Story of a Project in Romania Funded by Japan and Implemented by UNESCO
Our first significant result in editing cultural heritage matters was the preparation of “The Restoration of the Probota Monastery” for UNESCO, which enabled us to gain considerable experience in the field. Very precise texts and colour photographs depict in detail the remarkable achievements of the project: the full uncovering of beautiful 16th century murals from layers of over-painting and dirt, exhaustive archaeological research, and architectural operations of decisive importance for the preservation of the recently restored frescoes. The book also speaks about the people as well as events in Probota. Modern technological techniques, such as georadar investigations, digital microclimate monitoring and computerized database systems, which had a strategic role in the implementation of the project, are also described in the book.
The book, of more than 400 pages, with 843 full-colour illustrations and 19 maps, was published by UNESCO in October 2001, and printed in 1000 copies. It was launched both in Paris and in Bucharest and enjoyed great success with the public. The book describes the five-year UNESCO project on the restoration of the Probota Monastery, one of the so-called “Painted Monasteries” specific to Bucovina, in the northern part of the region of Moldavia.
As this book is not available for sale, we are preparing a second, improved, edition, Probota Monastery, Life Around the Painted Church of St. Nicholas in Bucovina, Romania.
Publication coordinators: Alfeo Tonellotto, Ignazio Valente
General editor: Maarit Elo
Authors: Oliviu Boldura, Coralia Costas, Maarit Elo, Catalin Hriban, Voica Maria Puscasu, Tereza Sinigalia, Alfeo Tonellotto, Ignazio Valente
A Travel Guide to Romania’s Region of Painted Monasteries
Bucovina – A Travel Guide to Romania’s Region of Painted Monasteries is a travellers’ guidebook, presenting the beautiful monasteries and churches of Bucovina. These churches are unique in the world for their fully frescoed exterior and interior walls. The feature, which will make this guide to stand out from the others, is the inclusion of line drawings of these frescoes. These “maps” of the mural paintings show the scenes depicted on the walls, subjects identified, and outlines sketched in ink. Usually travellers can only admire the scenes, but cannot interpret their meaning. Besides the monasteries, the guidebook outlines in great detail the traditional way of life of the region, the history of Moldavia and Romania, and the traits of art, architecture and religion in this area. Further, there is practical travel information on where to go, what to see, how to get there, and a short vocabulary of the Romanian language.
The guidebook is unique in its kind as there is nothing available in the market that tells you, in a way that is precise and scientifically correct, what the paintings show nor what they meant when they were created. Moreover, information that explains how certain scenes came into the iconographic canon and why, and how they were related to the local folklore and contemporary 16th and 17th century life is available only in scientific essays that are not available for the large public.
As in the case of all our books, the language chosen for the guidebook is English. Further, the guide includes a 50-minute DVD with scenes showing the life in the Bucovina monasteries and villages. The DVD comes with the guidebook, without any additional cost. Read More…
A Travel Guide to Romania’s Region of Wooden Churches
The whole Maramureş region is a living “outdoor museum” famous for its unchanged way of life and for its well-preserved wooden villages and churches. It is perhaps one of the better-known regions of Romania – but still not much travelled. Our guidebook under preparation focuses on the famous wooden churches, UNESCO World Heritage sites, built during the 18th and 19th centuries. Besides describing each church in its own chapter, the book will have extensive chapters on the geography, history, traditional life, and religion of the region. Also practical information, such as when to go to Maramureş, what to see, and where to stay, will have its own chapter.
The book is of very high quality, with unique photographs. What you have seen on our pages on this site is a sample of what you will see in the book.
Why is the region considered unique and those who have been there want to return? The answer is a mixture of three things: amazing landscapes, genuine people and the simple civilization of wood, with the famous wooden churches whose towers can be seen from far. The nature, people, houses and churches are spiritually connected and have maintained this link to the present. Read More…
The Painted Wonders
A Journey Through the Monasteries and Painted Churches of Bucovina
The name Bucovina may not mean much to many people, but Bucovina, and its brave princes, played an important part in the history of this European region, and in particular with regard to relations with the Ottoman Empire. The impressive number of churches to be found there, with their fine exterior and interior frescoes, have been preserved and handed down from mediaeval times, and because of their uniqueness and artistic value, were added to UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List in 1993. There is, indeed, no other place in the world where such a group of churches, with such high quality exterior frescoes, are to be seen.
The churches were founded, in most cases, as family burial places of princes and high nobles. Each painter, although following the canonical iconographic programme, interpreted the scenes in a slightly different way. The scenes were first painted on the interior walls, and then extended to the exterior ones. The reasons for such vast scenes were both religious and didactic: to promote Orthodoxy and to educate the illiterate.
The Painted Churches and Monasteries of Bucovina are so multifaceted that they have been the object of both scientific treatises and easy-to-read books. We decided that they finally deserve a book that not only displays beautiful photographs of the churches, the mural paintings and the surrounding landscapes, but also describes in depth this unique artistic and historical phenomenon.
Still under preparation, the book is a journey through the region, showing the natural beauty of Bucovina. The churches, which have withstood time, plunder and neglect, and which still preserve the tales of faith painted on their facades, are shown as an integral part of the surrounding villages and countryside.
Besides photographs and text, line drawings of the frescoes will form an important part of the book. These will enable the reader to understand the story told in the scenes and to see the difference between the churches.
The Spires of Heaven
A Journey Through the Wooden Churches of Maramureş
Maramureş is perhaps one of the better-known regions of Romania – but still not much travelled. Its well-preserved wooden villages and churches, its traditional lifestyle, and the local colourful dresses still in use make Maramureş as near to a living museum as can be found in Europe. The beautiful gentle landscape of fields and meadows, dotted with farms and villages, and its inhabitants, welcome visitors with wide-open arms.
With our large-format album book we want to present this region to all those interested in nearly unchanged ways of life. Quality photographs are combined with in-depth description of the land and its people, and of course, the famous wooden churches.
Most of these churches were built during the 18th and 19th centuries, on the place of older churches that no longer exist. In spite of the tall massive roof and the tower above the entrance, the churches are quite small and dark inside. The interior walls are painted with Biblical scenes.
Life around the Painted Church of St.Nicholas in Bucovina
The Probota Monastery was built nearly 500 years ago, as the burial place of the ruling prince of Moldavia, Petru Rareş. The church of St. Nicholas is one of the famous Moldavian Painted Monasteries, and has been on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List since 1993. Between 1996 and 2001, UNESCO carried out extensive restoration work in Probota. The interior and exterior frescoes and the iconostasis of the church were restored; the church was thoroughly repaired and a heating system installed; several unknown monastic buildings were discovered during the archaeological excavations and the remains were consolidated and partly presented.
As the book describing the five-year UNESCO restoration project, The Restoration of the Probota Monastery , has already run out of print, Metaneira is preparing a second, improved, edition. Whereas the first edition described the achievements of the whole restoration project, the second edition will concentrate on that, which makes the Church of St. Nicholas unique: the frescoes and the flamboyant Gothic architecture. This revised version will have more full page pictures to better reveal the beauty of the 16th century frescoes and, in addition, very precise line drawings that show, wall by wall, all the scenes present in the church.
The monastery is situated in the middle of the small village of Probota, in the countryside of Moldavia. The book will also show the lives of the people who live around the monastery, and will tell how it has influenced their daily lives through the centuries.
The Lost Treasures of the Dacians
Geto-Dacian archaeological sites, dated to the 6th century B.C.-1st century A.D., deserve special attention not only from historians but also from the general public. The Romanian Ministry of Culture has recently launched a project to raise awareness of these sites that are not very well known abroad. Signs of this ancient civilization can be found in every part of Romania.
The book will show spectacular finds of jewellery, ceramic ware, ceremonial weapons and accessories. Although these material remains are more renowned, the book will also discuss the Geto-Dacians’ relations with surrounding tribes and civilizations, and their ultimate fall to the Roman empire.