Wooden Churches of Maramures

Because it’s Easter time we invite all of you in a journey through places of worship in Romania, most of them being included on UNESCO World Heritage list.

We start our journey in the north-western region, Maramures. From a folkloric point of view, the region comprises four distinct entities: Tara Chioarului, Tara Lapusului, Tara Maramuresului (the north-eastern part of the historic Maramures) and Tara Codrului (south-western part), to whom we add the Metropolitan Area of Baia Mare.

The area is renowned for its wooden churches, for its unique sculpted gateways, for the only “happy” cemetery in the world but also for the famous “Mocanita” railway. Maramures is a place in which time seems to have stood still, its people follow ancient customs in idyllic backgrounds and pride themselves on their cooking. 🙂

Today we discover the wonder of wood-carved churches. The eight wooden churches of Maramures registered and under UNESCO care, represent remarkable examples of diverse architectural designs spanning centuries.

They are thin but tall, with long and slender towers at their western end. They are the expression of cultural particularity specific the northern part of Romania. It is characterized by the technique used for their wooden joints and shingled roofs, by the ornamental motifs visible on the surface portals and frames – that support the slender pillars – symbolizing the elements of plant, animal and geometrics, all made by chiseling or notching.

The Wooden Church of Budesti, Josani

The Wooden Church of Josani, under the patronage of Sf. Nicolae, is built on a small hill, overseeing the central part of the village. Raised by the townsfolk in the first half of the XVII century, the edifice imposes itself by sheer grandeur and artistic design, being the largest church in the historical Maramures.

The Wooden Church of Desesti

The painting found inside the Desesti church was kept in good condition, covering the walls of the entire building. That’s why the importance of this parietal ensemble is special, making it a representative example of the 18th century post-Byzantine art, specific to the Maramures region.

The Wooden Church of Barsana – Barsana Monastery

Located in the historical Maramures, on Iza valley, the old church dates from 1711 and is part of the present Barsana Monastery complex.  It was built by the noble priest Ioan Stefanca, along with his sons and other villagers, as a token to God and his protection during the plague of the past year.  The interior of the church was repainted in 1806 by Hodor Toader, whose inspiration came from the baroc and rococo movement and style.

The Wooden Church of Poienile Izei

The patronage of “Sf. Cuvioasa Paraschiva” at the Poienile Izei can be explained by the strong historical, national, cultural and spiritual connections between Moldova and Maramures. After bringing the holy relics of pious “Paraschiva” at Iasi, they wanted to put the Christians of these lands under her protection. The Wooden church from Poienile Izei is one of the most beautiful and well preserved wooden churches in Maramures, illustrating the evolution in time of the wooden church types in Maramures.

The Wooden Church of Ieud Deal

In its outer austerity, the indoor carved consoles and bright colors of the mural offer warmth, Ieud Church is a peak of artistic craftsmanship made famous by the wooden churches of Maramures. Its value is accompanied by a pictorial overview of the highest quality, the most representative work of famous local itinerant painter Alexander Ponehalschi.

The Wooden Church of Plopis, Sistesti Commune

The church dates from 1798 and is under the patronage of “Sfinții Arhangheli Mihail și Gavril”. Located in “Tara Chioarului” on Cavnicului Valley, it was built by the villagers using beams they assembled in a “blockbau” system. Crafted out of oak wood, the Plopis church presents plenty of particularities that make it unique. The remarkable attention to detail is highlighted by sculptured motifs, such as the torus -shaped belt or the friezes from under the eaves.

The Wooden Church of Rogoz

The Wooden Church of “Sfintii Arhangheli Mihail si Gavril” located in Rogoz, Maramures County, is one of the most valuable and interesting among them. Its construction is dated in 1663 by a inscription on the entrance referring to the Ottoman invasion of 1661.

The Wooden Church of Surdesti

The Greek-Catholic wooden church from Surdesti, dedicated to the Holy Achangels, was built in 1721 by Master builder Ion Macarie. The church can be distinguished by the size of the tower that rises over the entrance. The towers height is 54 meters, and the total height is around 72m, which makes the church one of the tallest sacral wooden construction in the world.

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