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Zamca Monastery

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The Armenian Zamca Monastery straddles a plateau on the northwest edge of Suceava, 25 minutes' walk from the centre along Str. Armenească or a short walk from Str. Mărăşeşti (maxitaxi #12). The Armenian diaspora had reached Moldavia by 1350, and Alexander the Good founded the Armenian bishopric of Suceava in 1401; in 1551, they fell foul of the Rareş family, leading to a pogrom, but in 1572 an Armenian actually became ruler of Moldavia. The buildings here, which combine Gothic and classical elements with oriental motifs, were founded in 1606 and later fortified with ramparts and a gate tower. A long and slow restoration project is under way. The three-storey gatetower and guesthouse, where dignitaries were once accommodated, is currently closed, while the plain white church is home to a few lovely frescoes. Though not much from a monumental standpoint, the site has a desolate grandeur, particularly at dusk, when you can walk around the earthworks. It's also worth mentioning the simple sixteenth-century Armenian church of the Holy Cross (Sfânta Cruce; open daily 9am–2pm), immediately south of the bus station, and the active Hagigadar Monastery, dating from 1513, 15km south of Suceava.