Bisericani Monastery was built in 1498 by monk Joseph on the place of an old wooden hermitage dating from Alexander the Good’s period. Ștefăniţă Voivod (1517-1527) is the one who built the first stone church in Bisericani. In the XIXth century the cells, the abbot’s room and the chapel were built. After the monastery’s wealth secularization from 1863, the monastery becomes a ruin, and later, it becomes a prison.
In 1905 the monastery is transformed into a sanatorium. Between 1924 and 1930 the monastery is restored.
Bisericani Monastery, built near Pietrosu Mountain, at an altitude of 650 meters was situated 12 km far from Piatra- Neamţ city, on DN Piatra-Neamţ - Bicaz. The climbing road was winding, Bistriţa Valley being though found step by step in all its splendour. At one time, you will find the monastery’s spire, hidden behind the fir trees.
Before, on the place on which there is today the monastic building, it seems that it existed a hermitage of Bistriţa Monastery. In 1498, the Pious Joseph left Bistriţa Monestery, and, together with other monks started to build a church by their own. The monks used to pray all the time, therefore they got the calling of “ church going” or “ church men”/ “ bisericani” – and therefore, the whole monastic settlement they founded received the same name.
The first lasting stone place was built during Stefăniţă the Viovod’s period (1517-1527), Stephan the Great’s grandson. The Pious Joseph raised a wooden church of which traces we can see today, at about 200 meters far from the church, and the the service was made after the model of Studion Monastery from Constantinopol, the only service at that time in the country.
The Stephan the Great’s battles made the monks to leave the monastic settlement. When they descended The Bad Valley, a lighting vision came out from an oak tree and The Virgin Mary came in front of them, urging to come back at the mountain. In order to honour this miracle, an icon was set in an oak tree, where believers from all over the country come to pray and to light candles.
Among the founders of Bisericani Monastery we can mention Alexander the Good, Stephan the Great, Stefăniţă Voivod, Petru Rareş and Alexandru Lăpuşneanu. In the first decades of the XVIIth century, the estate of Bisericani Hermitage extends rapidly and voivods like Stephan Tomşa the Second, Radu Mihnea, Constantin Movilă and Miron Barnovsci enowed it with churches, mills and yielding hills.
Therefore, the hermitage was admitted as “a monastery”, being one of the richest in Bistriţa Valley. During that period the towers and the interior walls were built and in 1637, during Vasile Lupu’s time the pronave and the above belfry were built, as well as the refectory, the cellar and more wooden cells. In 1786, the church is completely remade, keeping the pronave and the above bells room, built in 1637.
In the first half of the XIXth century there were the last monastery buildings . It was then when it were raised all the stone and brick buildings, the abbot’s room and the chapel in the southern-eastern corner. In 1821, Bisericani Monastery was robbed and some of the old valuable objects disappeared, and in 1863, and, being abandoned by the monks, it looses the most important income sources. In time, the monastery’s treasure is wasted, the cells are ruined, the monks’number decreases rapidly, therefore, in 1880 the last monks are leaving and the monastic complex is abandoned.
In 1885, a penitenciary is settled here, that functioned until 1905, when the place was taken by ”The Society for the tuberculosis prevention” and transformed into sanatorium. Since then and till nowadays, there were more stages of dispositions and buildings, therefore it is very difficult now to rebuild in mind the old form of the churches complex in Bisericani.
Between 1959 and 1991 it functioned as a hermitage of Bistriţa Monastery, and after 1974, the Abbot Atanasie Cismasu continued here the monastic life. In 1991, it gets one more time the rank of monastery, becoming independent. Beginning with 1993, when Serafim Mihali was chosen the Abbot, some repairings were made and a building for cells and a stable were built.
The church of Bisericani Monastery is known for its extremely beautiful and rare iconostasis in which the rich coloured adornment is in contrast with the sobriety of the matted icons , as well for the imperial doors so special for their dense arabesque sculptured surfaces of the nave. Nearby you can also visit Pângăraţi Monastery known for the unique architecture of the old church that has inside it two overlapped churches.