Polish Wooden Churches

The Wooden Churches in Malopolska Region in Poland are medieval Roman Catholic Gothic churches built in the unique structures.

Churches have been of particular significance in the development of Polish wooden architecture, and an essential element of settlement structures, both as landmarks and as ideological symbols. They were an outward sign of the cultural identity of communities, reflecting the artistic and social aspirations of their patrons and creators. In early Poland, churches were elite buildings of exceptional significance due to the importance of their patrons, who were usually monarchs, Church officials, monasteries, and finally knights (later aristocrats). Church building was not the work of folk carpenters, except much later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, in a period of increasing social and cultural differentiation.

Unique Structures

The oldest well preserved Roman Catholic wooden churches date back to the 15th century. They demonstrate the participation of professional craft workshops belonging to guilds and builders' lodges, sometimes employing both carpenters and masons. These churches are complex, of good craftsmanship, and free from improvisation in their construction. The few well preserved late medieval churches have many features in common. The typical church building was composed of a nave, almost square in plan with a narrow chancel, and generally with a three-sided east end. The churches were orientated with their altars to the east. Originally, the churches were built without towers, which were added later. There were various architectural developments, such as roof structures, in succeeding centuries, and some of the solutions are unique in Europe. The Gothic character of medieval churches was emphasized by simple stylistic details, such as the shape of door and window openings, arcades, and arches. Until the second quarter of the 16th century there was a common plan for the churches.

UNESCO heritage list

Six wooden churches of southern Little Poland were inscribed on the UNESCO heritage list as the most representative examples of surviving Gothic churches built in horizontal log technique. Although they belong to Roman Catholic tradition, they embody spirit characteristic for the closed regions of Eastern Europe. You can find similar landmarks in Romania (the Maramures region) or in the neighbouring areas of Slovakia.. These churches were usually sponsored by rich local nobility. Somewhat different Orthodox wooden churches can be found further to the east in Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine.

Wooden churches in Malopolska:

  • 1. The church of the Archangel Michael (Binarowa)
  • 2. The church of All Saints (Blizne)
  • 3. The church of Archangel Michael (Debno)
  • 4. The church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael (Haczow)
  • 5. The church of St. Peter and St. Paul (Lachowice)
  • 6. The church of St. Leonard (Lipnica Murowana)
  • 7. The church of St. John the Baptist (Orawka)
  • 8. The church of St. Philip and St. James the Apostles (Sekowa)
  • 9. The church of Archangel Michael (Szalowa)


Source: Pbase.com/Bauer/wooden_churches_poland

Tags: | Poland | Religion | Architecture | Heritage |


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