Set in the most enchanting natural environments imaginable, right in the middle of the mountains along the splendid Jiu Defile, Lainici Monastery is an architectural and historical treasure by all accounts. It is a place where spirituality has endured for centuries, surrounded the wilderness of a natural park and always accompanied by the Jiu River and the road carved alongside through the mountains. It is also a resting place for wandering travelers, midway through the spectacular defile, a destination that perfectly blends belief and beauty.
Location of Lainici Monastery
Lainici Monastery is situated in Gorj County, along the beautiful Jiu Defile and inside the National Park of the same name. It is located along the DN66 National Road and E81 European Road, about 32 km north of Targu Jiu and around 7 km from the entrance inside the wild defile. The monastery is right beside the road, on the right side going north, with easy access by car or train. Visiting the monastery if free, but dress code should be appropriate.
Presentation of Lainici Monastery
There are no documents or proofs regarding the beginnings of the Lainici Monastery, although it is believed the Nicodim the Pious was the one that started the establishment of religious life here, the same as Tismana Monastery. During the persecution of the Orthodox religion by the empress Maria Theresa of Habsburg, Lainici Monastery was destroyed along with many monasteries of Transylvania. The rebirth starts with the year 1784, when there were around 30 monks living at Lainici. At the beginning of the 19th century, noblemen from Targu Jiu built the church of the Lainici Monastery, today known as the “Old Church”. During the Revolution of 1821, the leader of the rebels Tudor Vladimirescu hid at the monastery dressed as a monk to evade the Turkish army. During the First World War, Lainici Monastery was devastated when German troops even went inside the church with their horses, the documents archive was burnt, the cemetery profaned and many religious artifacts stolen or lost.
Monastery life was reintroduced in 1929, to be abandoned again during the Communism Era between 1961 and 1970. In 1990 began the construction of the new, larger church, a veritable cathedral built on two levels, with an underground church dedicated to the old saints and the upper level dedicated to saints from the time of the persecutions to the present. Both churches feature a traditional architectural style from Wallachia, preserving precious religious artifacts, including a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary brought from Mount Athos and relics of the Eastern saints. The whole complex of Lainici Monastery is surrounded by strong stone walls, while the thundering Jiu River passes nearby.
Lainici Monastery is caught between two wild and tall mountain ridges, broken apart across millennia by the wild Jiu River. It benefits from the unique mix of a perfect location along an important European Road and its location inside an astonishing National Park. Surrounded by thick mountain woods on all sides, it appears a peaceful heaven amidst the unchained forces of nature. Close to the monastery, travelers can reach the secluded Locurele Hermitage following a 1 hour hiking path, while a little further up the road, a uniquely shaped rock formation resembles a sphinx.