Situated in the Prahova Valley, the Sinaia Monastery gave its name to the nearby town of Sinaia. Prince (Spătarul) Mihail Cantacuzino founded the monastery upon his return from a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai. The first buildings were completed between 1690 and 1695. It was designed to serve as a monastery as well as a fortified stronghold on the route from Brasov to Bucharest.
In the midst of the Russo–Turkish War, 1735–1739, before deserting the monastery, monks hid the valuables by burying them inside a bell. During a battle, the Turks defeated troops stationed within the walls of the monastery. The Ottomans burned the area and broke through the wall in two places.
Until 1850, Sinaia consisted of little more than the monastery and a group of huts. In 1864, however, the monastic estate was assigned to the Board of Civil Hospitals (Eforia Spitalelor Civile), which opened a hospital and several baths, and helped develop mineral springsin Sinaia.
The monastery consists of two courtyards surrounded by low buildings. In the centre of each courtyard there is a small church built in the Byzantine style. One of them—'Biserica Veche' (The Old Church)—dates from 1695, while the more recent 'Biserica Mare' (The Great Church) was built in 1846.
The monks possess a library that is a repository for valuable jewels belonging to the Cantacuzino family, as well as the earliest Romanian translation of the Bible, dated 1668.
In 1895 the museum of the monastery was opened, the first exhibition of religious objects in Romania. It holds collections of icons and crosses from the 17th century, the very first Bible in Romanian (Bucharest, 1688), and many other precious objects.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.