Wooden churches of the Carpathian region of Poland and Ukraine

8 unique wooden churches of Ukraine from the UNESCO list

On the territory of Ukraine there remained the largest number of wooden churches in the world – more than 2500. They amaze with their shapes, perfection, diversity, a perfect combination of design, function and beauty. Ukrainian wooden churches are fascinating with their harmony and fit perfectly into the landscape environment and can become the hallmark of our country.

In 2013, 16 wooden churches of the Carpathian region were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, 8 of them are located in Ukraine and the other 8 in Poland. Churches on the territory of Poland were also built by Ukrainians, but the historical circumstances are such that they are now located within the neighboring state. Their inscription on the UNESCO list gave these Ukrainian masterpieces a high protective status, as well as attracted tourists from all over the world.

We suggest you admire them and choose travels on which you can see them.

Drogobych “poem in wood”.

The outstanding sight of not only Lviv region, but all of Ukraine is the Church of St. Jura in Drogobych . Experts rank it among the three greatest wooden masterpieces of Ukraine, and art historians call it “a real wood poem, carved with an axe.

Church of St. Jura in Drogobych

St. Jura Church in Drogobych

As with all ancient structures covered with the patina of centuries, historians argue about the date and history of its construction. There are reports that there was a wooden church on the site as early as the 15th century, but another one has survived to this day. This church was traded for salt in the village of Nadezhda (Dolyna district I.Frankivska oblast), dismantled, brought on carts and installed in Drogobych, adding to it new elements. These events are dated 1657, and it is considered to be the starting point of the church existence. The iconostasis is ancient – 1666, the wall painting – 1691, made by a local master Stefan Meditsky, has also survived to this day. The bell tower was built nearby in 1678.

The church is traditional – three-column, covered with shingles, the bottom of the church is framed with arcaded galleries. The mural paintings are very well preserved; they depict not only the lives of saints, but also secular scenes, portraits of patrons, allegorical seasons, the heraldic tree of Christ, the drama of the Last Judgement and even the Apocalypse.

Church of St. Jura in Drogobych

St. Jura Church in Drogobych

Now the church functions as a museum and is part of the wooden architecture department of the Drogobychchina museum. You can take a tour of this gorgeous church during the Drohobych, Medenichi, and Naguyevichi tours (1d).

Renaissance wooden church in the “ideal city

The Church of the Holy Trinity in Zhovkva was built in 1720 without a single nail, entirely of wood, covered with shingles. According to historical sources Konstantin, son of the king of Rzeczpospolita Yan III Sobeskiy, who was the owner of the city at that time, took part in its construction financially.

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Zhovkva Church of the Holy Trinity

Zhovkva Church of the Holy Trinity

In addition to the building, the iconostasis is also valuable. According to historians, it is older than the church itself, from the XVII century. It was probably saved from a previous burnt-out church. The iconostasis has been made by masters of the famous Zhovkva school of carving and painting. The peculiarity of these artists’ paintings is the introduction of Ukrainian stylistics of sacred themes. The iconostasis in the Ukrainian Baroque style is richly decorated with relief carving and round icons. It has five tiers and consists of 50 icons of different size.

Zhovkva Church of the Holy Trinity

Zhovkva Church of the Holy Trinity

A stone extension was later built near the wooden church; some of its decorations, such as windows and portals, were brought here from a demolished tower of Zhovkva Castle.

You can admire the temple during the tour “Zhovkva, Krekhov, Stradch” (1d)

The oldest 500 years old temple of pottery

Potelitsky Temple of the Holy Spirit is one of the oldest wooden temples in Western Ukraine. Historians date it to 1502. The temple was built in place of its predecessor after the Tartars burned down not only it, but almost the entire city. The construction of the church was ordered by local potters, who were famous in those days far beyond their region. The iconostasis is a century younger than the temple, and one of the icons “Deesis” (1683) belongs to the brush of the outstanding icon painter Ivan Rutkovich.

Church of the Holy Spirit in Potelitsy

The Church of the Holy Spirit of Potelitsy

They say that Bogdan Khmelnitsky prayed in this church. In ancient times, 7 Cossack cannons were placed near the temple. From the defensive buildings, two wooden watchtowers have survived until today.

Church of the Holy Spirit in Potelitsy

The Church of the Holy Spirit of Potelitsy

Situated on a hill, a sacred complex includes a wooden bell tower, a pond nearby and a bridge that leads to the temple.

The church fascinates everyone who goes on the tour “From Potelic to Zagliny” (1d)

Bojkovka Pyramid.

The Boykivska Church in the village of Matkov in Turkivshchyna is somewhat younger than others on the UNESCO list in Ukraine. It is clearly known: it was built in 1838. The names of the masters who built it – Ivan Melnikovich and Vasily Ivanikovich are also known. On the main western portal the inscription: “Tey swiatyni fundamenta”, on the left corner “Zalozone dnia 21 czerw.”, on the right – “Roku 1838”.

Boykivska Church in Matkov village

Boiko church in Matkov.

The Church of the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a typical Boykowska church – three-tiered, with many bracts above each dome, like a Christmas tree. The bell tower is new – 1924. The church was closed during Soviet times, but after its reopening it was consecrated in honor of St. Demetrius and belongs to the UGCC community.

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Boykivska Church in Matkov village

Boiko church in Matkov.

You can take a walk along the routes “Boykivian Peaks” (1d) or “Carpathian Novelties in 5 Days” (5d/4n) to see how the church is sympathetically included into the picturesque landscape.

Roksolana Church

One of the oldest wooden churches of Ivano-Frankovsk region is located in Rogatyn . Scientists argue about the date of construction of the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, but the starting point is considered to be 1598, which was written on the inner wall. Despite the fact that the church is no longer a sacred structure, but a museum building, it still preserves the native iconostasis from 1650. It is one of the oldest preserved in Ukraine in the Renaissance-Baroque style. It was ordered by representatives of the brotherhood, which was active at the time of the church.

The Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Rogatina

Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Rogatyn

In the church-museum are preserved original icons, as well as those brought from other churches in the region. They date from the 16th-19th centuries. Therefore, the theme of the museum is wooden architecture and painting of this time period, and it is a branch of Ivano-Frankivsk Regional Art Museum. The bell tower, which is connected to the church, was completed later, in the XIX century. There is an old cemetery around the church. It is said that the church had dungeons, through which there were secret passages to another church of Nativity, but now they are filled up.

The Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Rogatina

Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Rogatyn

Another twist, but rather a legend, is that the rector of this church was the father of the famous Roksolana, wife of the sultan of the Ottoman Empire – Nastia Lisovskaya. But there is much speculation and even fiction about Nastya, and even more literary romanticism, as well as about the date of the foundation of this ancient wooden temple.

You can see the perfect forms and the high taste of the creators of this temple in the tours “To Rogatyn to Roksolana” (1d), as well as “Hutsul Carpathians + Bukovel” (2d / 1n), “Yaremche, Bukovel + Hoverla” (2d / 1n).

Oprishkevsky abolition

The construction of the church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in the village of Lower Verbizh in Kolomiya district began at the end of the XVIII century. Legends say that its construction was completed in 1808 by a former associate of Dovbush, a longtime resident of the village Grigor Semenyuk on the money of the rebels. He said that in his old age he wanted to atone for the sins of his youth. Before that, in 1743, a wooden bell tower was built. For the construction of the church the Austrian emperor awarded Gregory a gold medal. Here, near the temple, he was buried after 114 years of life and the grave is still preserved.

Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in the village of Nizhny Verbizh

Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in the village of Nizhny Verbizh

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The church of Hutsul type, entirely wooden, five-domed, iconostasis of the early XIX century. The five domes are dedicated to Jesus Christ and the four evangelists. In the XX century the church was upholstered in tin, but that did not prevent it from entering the top list of monuments under the auspices of UNESCO. The church needs its original shingle covering restored. The church is now closed, as the congregation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has built a new large temple.

You can see this unique church on the tour “Hutsul Stonehenge” (2d/1n).

Ascens that saved a flock of sheep and gave life to a village in Transcarpathia. Struk Church

Another church that keeps Gutsul traditions is the Ascension Church (1824) in Yasinya village in Rakhiv district, or, as it is also called, Strukivska Church. Legend has it that the church was built by Struk, a shepherd, in gratitude for saving his flock. Winter suddenly caught the flock of sheep in the mountains, to drive back the sheep was no longer possible, and so Struk built a pen in the ash forest, and he went to winter over the pass in the Galician village of Zelenoye. When he returned in the spring, he saw that the sheep had survived and even bore litter. In gratitude to God, he built a church here, near which the village spread out and named it after the trees that saved the sheep – Yasinya. There is even one banner in the church, which depicts a shepherd with sheep.

Church of the Holy Ascension in Yasinya village

Church of the Ascension in Yasinya village

Built in the form of a cross with one roof, the church is a unique example of Hutsul architecture, which still has some Galician influences. Nearby is an 11-meter spruce belfry from 1813, which is also one of the finest works of sacred architecture in Transcarpathia. It was moved from the village church that was burned down earlier.

You can see one of the most beautiful Hutsul churches on a trip “On Brynza to Rakhiv (via Dragobrat)”. (2d/1n)

The Black Church on the Pass

Another Transcarpathian church from the UNESCO list, located near the Uzhotsk pass with a picturesque landscape. This is where the Uzh River begins, on which the regional center will later spread. Church of St. Michael in the village Uzhok of Veliko Bereznyansky district was built of spruce beams in 1745, covered with almost black shingles and belongs to the most interesting buildings of Boykovsky type. As in Rogatyn, the bell tower is part of the church, protruding above the dome of the temple and is located above the narthex. However, another bell tower was built nearby in 1927.

St. Michael's Church in the village of Uzhok

Temple of St. Michael in the village Uzhok

The interior of the church is striking in contrast: from the dark entrance we get into a large and bright nave, which ends with a solemn gilded carved iconostasis.

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We invite you to visit the symbols of our land, to be captivated by the best Ukrainian wooden churches, which are included in the UNESCO world heritage list.

Wooden churches of the Carpathian region of Poland and Ukraine

Wooden architecture in the Polish and Ukrainian Carpathians differs from wooden sacral buildings in the rest of Europe in the variety of forms and types, perfection of carpentry and style.

Carpathian wooden architecture

In 2013, 16 wooden churches of the Carpathian Mountains in Poland and Ukraine were included in the World Heritage List. 8 Polish churches.

4 from the Podkarpackie Voivodeship:

  • St. Paraskeva in Radruny;
  • Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chotyniec;
  • St. Michael the Archangel in Smolnik;
  • St. Michael the Archangel in Turzansky.

Wooden churches in the Carpathian region of Poland and Ukraine - Photo 2

Carpathian wooden architecture

4 of the Voivodeship of Lesser Poland:

  • St. James the Younger Apostle in Powroznik;
  • the Intercession of the Theotokos in Owczary;
  • St. Paraskeva in Kwaton;
  • St. Michael the Archangel in Brunari.

The remaining 8 churches are on the Ukrainian side. 4 in the Lviv region:

  • The Descent of the Holy Spirit in Potylich;
  • St. Demetrius in Matkov;
  • St. Trinity Church in Zholkov;
  • St. George in Drogobych.

2 in Ivano-Frankivsk region:

  • St. Spiritus in Rogatyn;
  • The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in Verbih Nyzhnykh;

Wooden churches of the Carpathian region in Poland and Ukraine - Photo 3

Carpathian wooden architecture

2 in Transcarpathian region:

  • Ascension in Yasin;
  • St. Michael the Archangel in Uzhok.

All of them are located in the north of the Western Carpathians. The Carpathian churches are characterized by 3 architectural types: the Lemkos’, the Hutsul, the Boykos’.

Lemkovo church.

This architectural type was originally formed in the XVI-XVII centuries. It suggests the three-part structure of the temple: an altar, a nave and a women’s gallery or narthex. This corresponded to the division of the universe into the divine, the cosmos and the people who aspired to it . All these components were topped by a stepped-gable roof with a dome. Sometimes the erection of a narthex was abandoned.

The presbytery was usually square or octagonal, the nave square or rectangular. Roofs were covered with tiles. Signatures or small baroque shaped helmets were often borrowed from the Latin tradition.

Another common reference to European architecture was the erection of a bell tower to the west above the entrance, rather than the erection of separate buildings. These towers had domes and Renaissance or Baroque elements.

Each of the towers had a cross on it . In the oldest Lemkovo churches of the XVIII century, the crowning elements were richly decorated. Later they became much more modest.

Wooden churches of the Carpathian region in Poland and Ukraine - Photo 4

Lemkovo church.

The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin in Ovchary

History

  • Originally Orthodox, it is now a joint residence of the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic parishes.
  • Located on the wooden architecture route of the Małopolska province.
  • It was built in 1653. This is the second such structure on this site – the first was destroyed by the impact of the marshy terrain.
  • In 1701 the presbytery was completely rebuilt, in 1783 the tower was added and in 1870 the narthex was extended to the width of the nave.
  • In 1938 inside the polychrome was made.
  • In 1983-1985 the entire building was thoroughly repaired. On the roof restored tiles.
  • In 1995 the church was awarded “Prix Europa Nostra” as the best preserved historical building.
  • It belongs to the Lemkos’ type.
  • The shingled roofs over 3 parts of the church are topped with helmets with pseudo-lanterns and crosses.
  • Originally, rectangular windows were only on the south wall of the church, because the northern part was identified with the forces of the devil.
  • Because of the need for protection against moisture, it was erected on a foundation made of felled tree trunks.
  • Inside there is an iconostasis from the 18th century. It is painted in blue, red and gold and decorated with openwork columns with a motif of vine leaves. The icons are the work of the Baroque artist Jan Medicki. Several images were painted by an anonymous village artist.
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Wooden churches of the Carpathian region of Poland and Ukraine - Photo 5

The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin in Ovchary

Hutsul church.

  • It was built in the cross plan. It was divided into a women’s gallery, nave and presbytery.
  • Initially there was only one dome, which was located above the nave. At that time the chancel and the female gallery had gable roofs.
  • In the course of further development of this type, temples with 3 and even 5 domes began to appear. The roof and domes were covered with tiles. A cornice canopy surrounded the entire structure.
  • Traditionally, the entrance for men was from the west and for women from the south.
  • The Hutsul bell tower was a separate structure.
  • The oldest sacral buildings of this type date back to the 15th century.

Wooden churches of the Carpathian region of Poland and Ukraine - Photo 6

Hutsul church.

Church of the Ascension in Yasin.

  • Originally Orthodox, now belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Byzantine-Rusyn Catholic Church.
  • It belongs to the Hutsul type.
  • It was built in 1824 by the cross plan with a frame structure and a dome above the central part.
  • Around the building was installed eaves on supports. Most of the walls, roofs and dome were covered with tiles.
  • Some of the icons date back to the 18th century.
  • Nearby is a historic cemetery and a wooden two-story bell tower from 1813.

Wooden churches of the Carpathian region of Poland and Ukraine - Photo 7

Church of the Ascension in Yasin.

Boykovskaya Church

  • This three-part architectural type. It is divided into a narthex or female gallery, nave and presbytery. All these elements have the same dimensions. Only the height varies. Their roofs are broken several times, the domes are octagonal or tetrahedral.
  • Bell towers usually stand alone.
  • There is rarely a tower without a room above the women’s gallery.
  • This type was formed under the influence of the Balkan church and the Baroque Latin model.

Wooden churches of Carpathian region of Poland and Ukraine - Photo 8

Boykovskaya Church

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