Wooden Tserkvas – updated 10 September 2022
The tserkvas Of The Carpathian Region were built between the 16th and 19th centuries by communities of Orthodox and Greek Catholic faiths. Sixteen tserkvas (churches) are listed by UNESCO of which eight are located in Poland and eight are located in Ukraine.
The tserkvas were built of horizontal logs and were complex structures constructed using distinct building traditions rooted in Orthodox ecclesiastic design interwoven with elements of local tradition. The wooden tserkvas were built on a tri-partite plan surmounted by open quadrilateral or octagonal domes and cupolas with wooden bell towers on the outside and iconostases and polychrome decorations in the inside.
Outside, they had churchyards, gatehouses and graveyards bounded by perimeter walls or fences and gates, often surrounded by trees.
Exceptional carpentry skills were required to construct the wooden tserkvas particularly for the complex corner jointing that was required. The tserkvas were raised on wooden sills placed on stone foundations, with wooden shingles covering roofs and walls.
The wooden tserkvas in Poland are the Tserkva of St Parascheva in Radruż, the Tserkva of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chotyniec, the Tserkva of St Michael the Archangel in Smolnik, the Tserkva of St Michael the Archangel in Turzańsk (Podkarpackie Voivodeship), the Tserkva of St James the Less in Powroźnik, the Tserkva of the Virgin Mary's Care in Owczary, the Tserkva of St Parascheva in Kwiatoń and the Tserkva of St Michael the Archangel in Brunary Wyżne (Małpolskie Voivodeship).
The 16 churches can be divided into four groups of different ethnographic architectural traditions.
The Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine were included on the World Heritage List in 2013 during the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in Phnom Penh (dec. 37 COM 8B.37).
Buildings are available to visitors. The tserkvas in Radruz, Rohatyn and Drohobych are currently used as museums.