The monastery was built at the western entrance to Obcinile Bucovinei mountain area, about 45 km North West from the capital, Suceava. Sucevita is chronologically the last and greatest monastic ensemble among the painted monasteries in Bucovina. It was erected in 1581 by Gheorghe Movila, Bishop of Radauti, and it was dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Ruling prince Ieremia Movila, Gheorghe Movila’s brother, added to the church two open porches; and also built the massive houses, thick surrounding walls and defensive towers.
The height of the walls actually prevented the mural paintings from being damaged by the weather, as it happened with frescoes of other painted monasteries. Frescoes are painted in purple red and blue against an emerald green background. They belong to Romanian masters of the Moldavian school of painting, Ioan and his brother Sofronie from Suceava, and it was done in 1595. They have a strongly narrative character and many of them represent scenes taken from the daily life of the 16th century Moldavia.
During Stefan cel Mare rule, in the second part of 15th century, Sucevita Fortress was enlarged; stronger and higher walls, half-circular towers and a moat were added, to resist the attacks with newer and more powerful weapons. The fortress resisted a Turkish siege in 1476, the walls and towers being repaired and reinforced afterwards. It survived two more sieges, a Turkish and a Polish one, in the years that followed. Stefan died in Sucevita in 1504 and was buried at Putna Monastery.
His follower rulers maintained and repaired the fortress until 1538, when a huge Turkish army entered the fortress without a fight, due to the noblemen’s betrayed. It was the end of the independency for the Moldavian state and the beginning of a long Turkish rule and suzerainty.
In 1565, during A. Lapusneanu rule, the Moldavian capital was moved to Iasi and the fortresses were burned following the Turkish order.
In 1675 Sucevita Fortress was entirely destroyed, never to be rebuilt.
Nowadays its ruins stand on top of the hill, for the next generations to remember a great period of time of the Moldavian history.