2010 World Monuments Watch
Unassuming though it might appear, the white walls and red-tile roof of the Assumption of Our Lady Church hold a storied and unique history. Built in the 17th century on the site of an older wooden church in the southeastern Moldovan town of Causeni, the church was originally occupied by Turks and Tartars. In the 18th century, it became home to the Greek community of Braila. The church survives as the oldest building in Causeni. The church’s interior, set more than three feet (one meter) below ground level, preserves the only medieval fresco in the Republic of Moldova. Executed by Walachian painters in a late Byzantine-Romanian style, the interiors feature religious scenes and iconography in vibrant reds, gold, and blues. Soviet occupation (1944–1966) saw the church exploited as an apple cannery. Over the years, much of the original exterior wall paintings have been lost, reducing the church’s façade to the white walls visible today. Additionally, despite the installation of a new roof in 1972, moisture, drainage problems, and ineffective drying methods have conspired to deteriorate the church’s precious paintings. A lack of resources has encumbered local and national efforts to conserve the church.