-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin Alexandru Stancu-

Proilavia, how many sad stars
Did you see
When you fixed your spiritual resistance
Inspired from the celestial alchemy?

Sirius (the brightest star, in 2015-12-14)
and Jupiter (the greatest planet, in 2015-12-20),
which open this project,
were probably important sources of inspiration for the stylized star with 4 corners,
used to indicate the historical monuments in Romania.

Now we have the case of the former zone of the Proilavia Mitropoly,
with the headquarters in the Romanian town of Braila.

The story of this mitropoly is quite amazing,
and I decided to dedicate my vision about it
(for which I crossed special zones in 4 countries)
to my mother’s sister, Tanti Sila (Vasilica Tudor),
who was a real believer and a keeper of old Orthodox Christian traditions.

For almost 8 years she was also my adoptive mother
and my main support in life (although we lived in different towns),
but in 2017 May 19 she suffered a terrible accident,
which destroyed her health forever.

Thus, my vision begins in 2015-12-24, with Venus
(the brightest object with a stellar aspect),
photographed from Tanti Sila’s balcony in Braila,
and continues with the Sun rising from beyond the Danube River
in the former zone of the Proilavia Mitropoly headquarters.

Before and after the fall of the Byzantine Empire (1453)
the Orthodox Christians became “tier 2” citizens in the Ottoman Empire,
but very useful just because they were the best payers of taxes.

In these conditions, the Patriarchy of Constantinople
tried to create parallel states for Eastern Christians,
religiously organizing the occupied countries in mitropolies led by Greek priests.

The Proilavia Mitropoly, parallel state of this kind, was active, with intermittences,
between the 1570s and 1828.

Its jurisdiction was placed in the north-east of the Ottoman Empire,
on the left bank of the Danube River and the north-west shore of the Black Sea,
on territories where the population was majoritarily Romanian,
practically the south-east of the former Dacian Kingdom of Burebista
(1st century BCE),
including a few historical provinces:
Bugeak (from the Prut River to the Dniester River),
Bender-Tighina (on the right bank of the Dniester River),
Edisan (between the Dniester River and the Bug River)
and even further (toward the Dnieper River).

The choice of Braila, a town placed in an Ottoman raya (enclave)
on the territory of Wallachia, near the border with Moldova,
as the headquarters of that mitropoly,
was a strategic decision:
in hard times for Christians, the Greek priests could run
to the two Romanian principalities,
where the Ottomans did not have legal powers
and the right to build mosques.

As a sky lover, I wanted to see at least from the speed of the bus
the Sun over all these provinces,
and in 2017 August 11 I was in the Bender-Tighina zone, around Causani
(now in the Republic of Moldova).

I continued with the dusk in north-west Bugeak (now in Ukraine)
until I crossed the Dniester River.

In 2017 August 13 I woke up in Odessa, where I saw the sunrise,
and I went back to Dniester through Edisan or Yedisan (also in Ukraine),
near the shore of the Black Sea.

And here are images from south-east Bugeak (Ukraine, too),
where I saw the Prut pouring into the Danube.

The Russian (Orthodox Christian, too) Empire
conquered Edisan (1792) and annexed Bugeak (1812),
so that the jurisdiction of the Proilavia Mitropoly moved south, to Dobrogea,
between the Danube River and the Black Sea,
where, in association with the Silistra Mitropoly (now in Bulgaria),
religiously led the zonal Orthodox Christians
(Romanians and Bulgarians, still under the Ottoman Empire)
until 1828, when the Russian Empire liberated Braila for Wallachia
(as a small compensation for the annexation of Basarabia in 1812 -
now mainly the Republic of Moldova).

In 2016 May 21 I crossed the Danube River, watching the Silistra bank,
then I took more pictures from
“Romanian” Dobrogea and “Bulgarian” Dobruja,
marking the border between them through 3 images with the Sun.

To crown this project,
in 2015 December 20 I made a tour in the zone
of the former Proilavia Mitropoly in Braila,
watching the evolution of the sunset
and enjoying the Moon as an elite companion.

Since the main church of the Proilavia Mitropoly
was demolished from technical reasons soon after 1828,
today two impressive monuments (which I photographed in 2017 June 11)
especially remember its history.

Thus, the Greek community of the city
made in the 1860s, in the same zone,
a church a little larger than even the Mitopoly Church
of the Capital of Greece, Athens,
with a similar dedication, the Annunciation.

In their turn, very close, the Romanian authorities
transformed in the 1830s the mosque from the centre of Braila
(made in the 17th century)
into a Christian Orthodox church, dedicated to Archangels Michael and Gabriel,
to remember that in the 1590s
Mihai (Michael) the Brave recovered for a few years
the town of Braila-Proilavia for Romanians
and made here a church, which were demolished later by Ottomans.

Finally, I tried to put a diamond in this project:
Venus (2016-12-25) over the Danube River
and the Proilavia Mitropoly zone in Braila!


© 2017 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)