UNESCO Wooden Churches

Truly architectural masterpieces, the Wooden Churches are the best examples of the wood carving mastery and artistic spirit in Maramures. They express the importance of religion in Maramures people's life also reflecting centuries old traditions and customs that are still carried on at present.

As recognition for their unique value, cultural significance and beauty, eight out of the almost 100 old wooden churches of Maramures were granted the title of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are part of UNESCO Patrimony. Overall, Romania has seven sites included in the UNESCO patrimony.

Bârsana

The church having the Dedication day "The Entrance of the Virgin Mary in the Church" was built in 1720 on the place of an older church which had been burnt down by the Tatars. Initially, the church belonged to a monastery (the only one from the eight UNESCO churches) and only after 1806 it became the village church. Built out of oak loggs, the church has a double-shingled roof, a steeple with open balcony and a conical spire. The porch has two levels being one of the few wooden churches in Maramures with such a feature. The entire structure is girdled by a torsade, a wreathed rope-like frieze. The interior painting, executed by Toader Hodor si Ioan Plojodeste, is varied and has baroque influences. The painting can be noticed mostly in the nave and the altar and depicts scenes from the Genesis, cycle of the Passions of the Christ, episodes from Jesus’s and Maria's life.

The church is open daily between 9.00 and 17.00 and there is no entry fee.

 

Budeşti

The church with St. Nicholas as patron was built in 1643 and was never modified or enlarged being a perfect example of traditional wooden architecture from Historical Maramures. With a hight of 38 meters (125 feet) it has two-tiers roof over the whole surface of the building with 14 pillars (7 on each side) that support the roof. The bell-steeple has an open balcony and four small towers on the spire (meaning that the village used to have a Council of the Old Men). The entrance door is beautifully decorated. The interior painting, made by Alexandru Ponehalski si Ianos Opris, is very well preserved and displays a complex register. The icon on the sacred table and the shrine ciborium (canopy) are exquisite, there is a very elaborated wooden chandelier and the church holds a valuable collection of glass icons. Here you can also find the mail shirt of Pintea the Brave, a famous local outlaw who lived between 1670 and 1703.

Near the church lies The Alms Table, the place where the Council of the Old Men was summond and also where alms were given to the poor families from the village. The Table is made out of several slabs of stone and has written on it the name of the wealthy families from the area.

Nowadays, the church is used for Christmas and Easter service and ocasionally for weddings and funerals.

The tickets are 3 Ron/pers (approx. $1) and for the tour you should ask across the street, at Budeşti Hall, or call +40-724-543761.

 

Deseşti

The church was built in 1770 on the location of an older church and is dedicated to "Pious Paraschiva". It has a double-tiered roof across the whole building except for the Altar. The bell-steeple has an open balcony that spreads out over the steeple structure. The painting, executed by Radu Munteanu around the year 1780, is very well preserved and shows signs of post-Byzantine art influences. It displays scenes from the Old and the New Testament, the Cycle of the Passions and, extremly interesting, a presentation of different nations before The Last Judgement. Each nation (Jewish, Turks, Tatars, Germans, French) is differentiated by   physiognomies and especially by chothing. In pronaos The fires of Hell are depicted showing different types of torture for those ending there. The Iconostasis is displayed in three painting registers and the Altar has beautiful imperial doors carved with the vine-leaf motif. In the cemetery surrounding the church there are several Celtic crosses proving the old age of the site and also the cultural influences present in Maramures.

Tickets cost 2 Ron/pers (approx. $0.75) and for tours please address the priest, he lives in the house behind the church.

 

Ieud

The church with the name "Birth of the Virgin" was built in the 17th century and it is made of fir tree wood. Some experts consider that it was built in 1364 thus making it the oldest standing church in Maramures. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, parts of an older churches being used to errect a new church in the 17th century, this beeing a common practice in Maramures. Also, the architectural style, the size of the construction and the year when the interior painting was made all indicate a later errection, around the 17th century. Nonetheless, the value of the church is immense and it is amplified by the fact that in its attic the oldest document in Romanian was discovered - The Codex of Ieud. Dated 1391 (by approximating the year 6900 written on the first page), the Codex is written in Romanian, in the Cyrillic alphabet, and it is consider the first document proving the existence of Romanian language.

The church has a double-tier roof with a small spire on top of the steeple. The balcony is open and streches wide on top of the steeple. There is a massive doorframe at the entrance with a wooden door lock. Dating from 1782, the interior paiting is the work of Alexandru Ponehalschi and displays scenes from The Last Judgement in the pronaos and The Holy Trinity, The old and the new Testament in the naos. The patrimony of the church also includes several wooden icons, an exquisite wooden chandelier and the Sacred Table, which is different from other churches.

Tickets cost 3 Ron/pers (approx. $1) and you have to call the phone numbers posted at the entrance in order to visit the church.

 

Plopiş

The church has the "St Archangels" as Patrons and was errected between 1798-1805 and had the dedication in 1811. At the moment when the church was beeing build, there were 49 families living in the village and the price for the church was 49 golden coins, one for each family. Being 47 m (154 feet) tall, the church displays an impressive architecture due especially to the very slim steeple and the high, hexagonal spire. There are four small turrets on the spire, a sign that the village used to have a Council of the Old Men/judges. The body of the church is surrounded on the exterior by two moldings, carved out of the wall beams. It is interesting to notice that the windows are lined on two levels, unlike most wooden churches. The massive porch has been added later to the construction, probably to accommodate the ever growing number of attendants. The interior painting is present only on the naos ceiling and the superior part of the side walls. The Iconostasis, dating from 1810 and assigned to Stephan the Painter, displays two major scenes on two levels. The Altar has the imperial doors beautifully carved and decorated with the vine-leaf motif. The churches holds a remarcable wooden ciborium (canopy), an old wooden cross and two valuable prayer books.

Even nowadays, this is the only church in the village and all religious service is held here.

There is no visit fee but donations are welcome. For tours please call +40-741-203676.

 

Poienile Izei

The church with the patron "Pious Paraschiva" was errected in 1604 beeing one of the oldest wooden churches in Maramures. It had the dedication in 1637. The construction is fairly small and has a two-tier roof over the entire structure. The steeple is very short with an open balcony that expands outside of the tower. During the 18th century the church was modified: the walls were raised and a front porch and an inside balcony in the naos were added. The interior painting dating from 1794 belongs to Gheorghe from Dragomiresti displays large scenes: the Last Judgement, the Genesis, various ethnic groups (Jewish, Turks, Tatars, Arabs, Gypsies) and their most important characteristics. The Iconostasis is presenting three registers. The Altar has a square shape proving the archaic origins of the building. The imperial doors and icons are of great value.

There is no electricity in the church, candles cannot be used because they damage the painting so it is rather difficult to view the interior painting. Tickets cost 4 Ron/pers (approx. $1.3), for tours please call +40-726-387120.

 

Rogoz

The church having the "Saint Archangels" as patrons was built in 1663 on the place of an older church burnt down by the Tatars in 1661. The elm-wood structure impresses by the abundance of ornaments, by the entrance located on the southern wall and by the unequal and very extended roof. The steeple has an open balcony, a fold/crease and an extremly beautiful and unique spire. It starts as a square but developes into a conic shape, with 2 folds/creases and four big turrets (reminding that the village had a council of the Old Men/judges). The entrance has a rare accolade shape and has the roof extended over it. The passage between the pronaos and the naos has also an accolade shape and it has a door, very unusual for wooden churches, and the door is painted. The interior painting, well preserved, dates from 1785 and is the work of Radu Munteanu and Nicolae Man. The Iconostasis is painted directly on the wall and is divided in three registers. The church holds a beautiful wooden chandelier and several valuable wooden and glass icons.

One of the most important and unique features of the church is the Elder's Table or the Alms Table. Made out of a single, extremly long beam, the table is sheltered on the north side of the church, the roof streching and covering it, thus being unequal with the roof size on the south side. The Table is portioned for each wealthy family based on the size of the family and the names of the families are carved on the church wall. It here that the elders were judging various conflicts and it still here they were giving alms to the poor families during Easter.

There is no charge for visiting the church but donations are welcome. For tours please call the phone numbers posted by the entrance.

 

Şurdeşti

Built in 1766 by Ion Macarie, the church has "St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel" as patrons and is considered the highest old wooden church in Romania - 54 m (177 feet ) hight. The roof is two-tiered on its entire surface. The steeple has a fold/crease half distance between the roof and the balcony. The spire has four small turrets meaning that the village used to have a Council of the Old men/judges. The building is made out of oak tree wood and the double tiered porch has been added subsequently to the initial construction, in the 19th century. The church has a stone floor, unlike most wooden churches. The wall painting, dating from 1783 is preserved fairly well, the present Iconostasis is superposed over the older one and is achieved in three registers. Each painting from the Iconostasis is strictly defined ans separated from the others by frames, feature that is almost unique for Maramures wooden churches. The imperial doors are exquisite. The church hold several wooden icons extremly valuable. In the cemetery around the church there are few old, stone crosses.

There is no fee for visiting the church but donations are welcome. For tours please address the priest at the house next to the chuch gate.