“Saint Ilie” church
Monastery / Church
Located in the proximity of Lipscani Street, the main shopping street of the old city centre and near the Administrative Palace, the actual church was built on the site of an older church, established in the 18th century by the Otetelişani landlords.
The Church dedicated to St. Ilie, founded by Ilie Otetelișanu, was built in the eighteenth century. Although the original inscription of the church was not preserved, an inscription dated in 1890, still legible, mentions the year 1751 as the year when the first church was built: " This holly church was built in the place of the old church founded by rep: Ilie Otetelișanu in 1751… on the throne of the country being King Carol I and Queen Elisaveta, Ferdinand as successor, Bishop DD Ghenadie, founders Maria C. Otetelișanu and sons, represented by tutor and uncle Sava Şomănescu and Mayor P. Otetelişanu founders. Adori Barbu Ionescu, B. Rioşianu, treasurer D. Istrati, secretary D. Cutiana, Arhitetu F. Springer, C. Trolli & C. Bardelli entrepreneurs. The foundation stone of this church was set on July 7, 1889, and finished on August 30, 1890”. However, the will of Ilie Otetelișanu discovered in the the Hurezi Monastery’s archive and dated 11th of December 1732, stated that "my sweet hope, my church in Craiova", to which he wished "to finish its rooftop and cover it with splinter". Otetelișanu 's testament proves that, in 1732, St. Ilie's Church already existed for a number of years in order to justify the need for repair works. Based on this information, the teacher and historian Petre Gârboviceanu determines 1710-1725 as the period of building the church, 1720 being the year accepted as the most probable date for the completion of the construction. Thus, St. Ilie's Church is considered to be the oldest wall church built in the 18th century century in Craiova.
The church of Ilie Otetelișanu had a single tower and was small sized, but was endowed with silverware, garments and books, but also with estates, thus becoming one of the richest places of worship in Banie region. The place where the church was built was one of the busiest in the city, located near Craiova's permanent fair, so-called Afternoon Fair, which would later be called St. Ilies's slum.
Through his will, landlord Otetelișanu endowed the church with estates, his houses from Craiova, the Suteşti vineyard and other real estates, and empowered his cousin, Barbu Otetelişanu, son of Gorgan Otetelişanu as founder of the church but also obliged him to “dress the poor people, release the debtors from the prison and feed the sick people " from his incomes.
During 1838 earthquake, "the church tower broke up in three places, two interior pillars cracked, and the plaster dropped". Following the earthquake, landlord lordache Otetelișanu and the church warden Grigore Otetelișanu carried out capital repair works which completely changed its appearance.
The painter Constantin Lecca painted St. Ilie church between 1840-1841.
The church was rebuilt between 1889-1896 and then restored in 1939-1940. Ioanid, a painter from Bucharest, under the direct supervision of painter Gh. Tattarescu, painted the church in 1892-1893. This was the last church painted by the artist.
The incomes of this church supported the Lazaro-Otetelişanu Girl’s School and contributed to the foundation of Wallachia’s first Central School for Girls, by the diligence of Iordache Otetelişanu. From Petrache Poenaru's unique letters resulted that, before 1835, Iordache Otetelişanu started a girls' boarding school in rented houses.
On 21st of March 1836, the Cupbearer Constantin Lazarie made his will and left the houses in Craiova, which he had inherited from his wife, to a girls' boarding school be settled there. In 1837, Iordache and Grigore Otetelişanu brothers drew up a draft of their testament, deciding to transform the Lazarie houses into a, using the money donated by St Ilie church where they were administrators.
In 1867, Grigore Otetelişanu mentions in his testament the fact that the Lazaro - Otetelişanu external girls' boarding school would be financed from its own and St. Ilie's church founds.
Being a private church and not a monastery, its possessions escaped from the secularisation process, but the expropriation left it without its estates, making it very difficult to cover Otetelişanu boarding school’s expenses.