Madona Dudu Cathedral is one of the biggest Orthodox churches in Craiova, famous for the miracle-working icon of the Virgin Mary which it hosts. Many tourists and pilgrims cross its threshold every day to participate in the religious services or to pray to the miraculous icon.
Its name can be translated as the “Holy Mother from the mulberry”, which comes from a legend according to which the icon was found in a mulberry, on the spot where the church’s altar lies nowadays. One day, a Spanish Jew found the icon and took it in order to sell it, but the icon miraculously disappeared from his bag and appeared back in the mulberry. Going back to the mulberry, the Jew took the icon again, but the story repeated itself. The news spread soon after and the owner of the orchard, convinced that he faced a miracle, decided to found a church in honour of the Virgin. The church was built right on the spot where the mulberry was and the icon was placed inside. Hearing about the icon’s miracle-working ability, many tried to steal it, but without any result. In 1801, the Turks set fire to the city and the church burnt to the ground with everything inside. Soon after, people found the icon untouched under the fallen walls. The same thing happened in 1838, when the church was affected by an earthquake. The icon was never restored and is currently kept in perfect condition inside Madona Dudu Cathedral. It is still considered to be miraculous, as it survived untouched after several disasters and, at times, tears fell from the Virgin’s eyes.
The Madona Dudu Cathedral was built in Brâncovenesc style between 1750 and 1756 over the older wooden church, but the first documented mentioning dates from 1758. From its construction, the church went through numerous restorations, being destroyed and rebuilt several times during the years. The fires and earthquakes destroyed many of the initial icons and furniture. The restorations, made by a Viennese architect, added Baroque decorations, while the exterior painting has the signature of Gheorghe Tattarescu, who also contributed to the Metropolitan Cathedral in Iaşi.
During the years, the church and its annexes also served as a hospital and a school. Inside the church you can admire the furniture and the iconostasis, carved by the sculptor Constantin Brâncuși, who, as a child, benefited from a scholarship given by the church to poor children so that they could continue their studies.
How to get there:
Madona Dudu Cathedral is located 10 minutes walking from Craiova’s city centre and Mihai Viteazul Square.
By car: From Mihai Viteazul Square take Popa Şapcă St towards Carol I National College. Turn left at the roundabout on Ion Maiorescu St and then left again on Madona Dudu St.
By bus: From Craiova Train Station take bus #1b to Olteţ station, located in the city centre, and then take a 10min walk to Madona Dudu Cathedral.