Northern Buzau contains many rock-hewn churches and chapels, not for nothing is it called Meteora of Romania.
And the rock is neither soft limestone, nor crumbly stone like the one in the rock triangle in Argeș, but a fine sandstone that has allowed elaborate excavations over time.
In the following, I will briefly tell you how to reach the two most important and accessible sights in Nucu: the Chapel of Dionysius the Torchbearer and the little Church (Sihăstria or Cave) of Joseph.
Warning: roads are isolated, slow, rocky, markings are few, road signs too. From these points of view, you'll be entering an area that has been preserved as intact as it was many years ago.
The good thing is that if you get over the above shortcomings you will discover magical places, out of fairy tales, with great landscapes, beautiful landscapes, hundreds of years old histories.
With a little interest, the cave churches in the Buzau area can become the main attraction of the county.
Your road starts from Colți or Bozioru, from there it passes on paved roads through the villages of Fisici, Văvălucile, Găvanele, Nucu.
With a little care, a few questions (or the use of GPS) you'll end up in Nucu. By car you will only be able to go as far as the place called by the locals "Gârlă" where you use the parking lot and continue the way on foot.
We cross the creek and after the first serious climb we approach Poiana Cozeanca.
From here it's easier to cross the water again, to the right, following the sights signs. We'll take a small footpath, walk past the water tank and follow the path to the raised rock sown in front of us. As we approach, we may see a flag at the top. Next to our cliff is a wooden table, good place for a picnic in the middle of nature.
We are interested in the left side of the cliff, which we are also following. At the end, we turn right behind the massif and, on the path, we climb, five minutes is enough.
The path leads to a staircase raised up to a chapel in the rock. We are at the Chapel of Dionysius the Torchbearer.
The Abbot Dionysius Schimonah was one of the famous Sikhs of the "Foundry" Sikhastery. He lived here in the second half of the 14th century. If you haven't already guessed, he was called "the spinner" because he was in the business of... spinning wool. That's how he made his living.
The wooden staircase is massive, don't be afraid to climb it. In the old days, during the night, the hermit could lift it.
It is believed that he built his cave in a difficult-to-access cliff, excavated in the 3rd-4th centuries, and that its role may have been defensive. To cross its threshold, you don't go down, you go up; it is four metres above the ground and Dionysius lived in it for over 30 years, enduring the cold of winter, the damp, the hunger. It's enough to imagine what that place was like in winter...Once a week he would come down from the cave and meet up at the 'Bottom'. The Chilia was not documented until 1639. It is known that after the death of Dionysius it was inhabited by monks until the middle of the 19th century, and then it remained permanently abandoned.
Joseph's Church, the second place that deserves our attention, is the largest and best preserved stone church in the Nucu area. From Dionysius, it takes a maximum of half an hour (of which 15 minutes on the path through the forest) to reach our little church. From the first church, we return to the base of the cliff, towards the clearing.
The path goes like this: from the cliff, we climb up to the forest, past old willows and some boulders. When the forest is about to fall on us, we see that part of it is coniferous, part deciduous. We follow the valley between the two types of trees and where we see the blue triangle marker, we say "Thanks!".
Basically, it's not hard to find, here you can see some more markings. At the end of our route we find a massive, huge, sheer, sloping cliff. The cliff face looks like it's polished and pulled to the line, it really is. Next to an old fir tree, we'll also find Joseph's Church.
It is one of the rock churches that played a special role in the development of life isihaste in the Buzau Mountains. The windows of the church in a broken arch seem to date the cave to the 13th century, but the presence of the fish as an early Christian symbol above the entrance of Joseph's cave, whose outline is still discernible, leads us to believe that it may date from the 4th or 5th century, having been used by Christians, like other caves in the Buzau Mountains, during the persecutions.
Here was the John Bogoslav Hermitage, documented by the ruler Mihnea Turcitul, in a hrisov dated 18 July 1587. The passage of time has meant that what was built of wood on the outside has disappeared. Luckily for the hard rock...
To make your life easier, I am providing you with the GPS coordinates of the Church of Joseph and the Church of Dionysius the Torchbearer:
Joseph's Church - N45° 25.608 E26° 26.397 (converted, the coordinates look like this in full degree-minute-second format: 45°25'36.5″N 26°26'23.8″E, or in decimal format, 45.426800N, 26.439950E);
The Chapel of Dionysius the Torchbearer - N45° 25.414 E26° 26.232 (converted, the coordinates look like this in full degree-minute-second format: 45°25'24.8″N 26°26'13.9″E, or in decimal format, 45.423567N, 26.437200E)
Informative or fun reading for the road: