Once the capital of Moldova (from 1388 until 1565), Suceava in north-east Romania, in Bukovina, some 370 km north of Bucharest is an excellent starting point for trips to the many historical, cultural and natural attractions travelers can enjoy in the Bucovina region. Suceava is also the gateway to visiting the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. The Suceava town has some noteworthy attractions of its own, including Saint George’s Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Bucovina Ethnographic Museum, with its valuable folk costumes collection and traditional items exhibits, and Suceava’s main tourist site, the remains of the Princely Court. Other sights of Suceava include the 14th century Mirauti Church, the Zamca Monastery and the Bucovina Village Museum, dedicated to the woodcraft, ethnography, history and folk art of the region. The Bucovina History Museum displays medieval armor, coins, weaponry, tools and ancient documents. Visit these archaeological and historic gems before heading to the painted monasteries area.

Mirauti Church (Biserica Mirauti) is the oldest church in Suceava, Mirauti Church was founded by Petru I Musat in 1375. Until 1522 it served as the Moldavian coronation church. It was here where Stephen the Great was crowned Prince of Moldavia in 1457 after receiving the bishop’s blessing. The church was restored between 1898 and 1901, preserving the original design.

Princely Court (Cetatea de Scaun) has been built by Petru Musat at the end of the 14th century, the fortress was later enlarged and strengthened by Alexandru cel Bun to hold off invading Ottoman Turks. Stephan the Great (1457 – 1504) added the moat, 105-foot-tall defensive walls, and defensive towers that enabled it to withstand the artillery of Mehmmed II, conqueror of Constantinople. The fortress was finally blown up by the Turks in 1675. Today, visitors can tour the remains of the impressive fortifications and take in a great view of the city.

Princely Inn (Hanul Domnesc) is one of the oldest buildings in Suceava, featuring thick stonewalls and vaulted ceilings, the inn served for a long time a favorite meeting point for the noble court as they returned from hunting in the thick forests of Suceava; hence its name, the Princely Inn. The ground floor dates from the beginning of the 17th century, while the second floor dates from the 19th century when it served as a hunting lodge during the period of Hapsburg rule. Today, the Princely Inn is home to the Bucovina Ethnographic Museum.

Saint George’s Church / The Monastery of Saint John the New

Built by Bogdan the 3rd and his son, Stefanita Voda, between 1514 and 1552 to serve as the Metropolitan Church of Moldavia, St. John the New Monastery is nowadays the seat of the Archbishop of Suceava and Radauti. St. George Church houses the relics of Saint John the New, brought to Moldavia by Alexandru cel Bun in 1415. The relics are placed in a silver casket, richly decorated with scenes from the saint’s life. The outstanding exterior frescoes of the church, illustrating scenes from the Old and New Testament, were completed in 1534 during the reign of Petru Rares, a glorious time in the era of religious murals. The style of St. George’s frescoes resembles those at Moldovita and Humor. Although only some parts of the Hymn of the Dead, the Tree of Jesse and the legend of the Prodigal Son can still be seen on the southern wall, the church is nonetheless impressive, especially due to its mosaic roof and belfry tower.

St. Dumitru Church (Biserica Sf. Dumitru)

Built by Petru Rares between 1534 and 1535, this stone church displays some rather impressive dimensions. Its interior frescoes, dating from the 16th to 19th centuries, have recently been restored. The church serves as resting place for Bogdan, the son of Petru Rares, and a series of important Moldavian boyars.

A village in the Romanian county of Suceava, in the Northern part of the country, was named Romania’s Cultural Village for 2014 in the first edition of the event designed to promote Romania’s rural areas. The village of Ciocanesti in Suceava was given the prize by the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in Romania and the French Embassy to Bucharest. Four other villages entered the last leg of the competition. The authorities of the winning village will organize cultural events throughout 2014, starting with the traditional painted eggs festival in the beginning of March.