Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region

Visit the Polish part of Carpathian Region to discover the beauty and precision behind the wooden sacral objects of the Orthodox and Greek Catholic denominations scattered there. These wooden tserkvas, built between the 16th and 19th centuries, are perfectly harmonious with the intact nature of the region, giving their testimony to the great artistry of local craftsmen. The 16 UNESCO-listed wooden tserkvas include 4 sites located in the Polish Carpathia, namely in Radruz, Chotyniec, Smolnik and Turzansk hamlets, representing the most outstanding examples of timber-made ecclesiastical design of the era.

Tour Overview

Take a tour around the lovely Polish part of Carpathia – a mountainous region of turbulent history where various nationalities, minorities (like the Boykos or Lemkos) and religious denominations would co-exist in the past. Discover the architectural mastery of countryside-located wooden tserkvas, so distinctive in their style when compared to Catholic or Protestant shrines and present literally nowhere outside of Eastern and Central Europe: timber-made, built with the horizontal-log technique implemented and beautifully adorned with wooden polychrome decorations inside.

The transnational Carpathian Region also encompasses a considerable portion of Polish land – in order to sightsee the 4 wooden tserkvas located there, you need to travel right at where the Polish and Ukrainian borders meet. It requires approximately 4 hours of a journey from Krakow (there also exist 4 other sacral buildings of this kind present in the vicinity of Krakow itself). Once you travel there, you will be able to marvel at the Carpathian landscape composed of picturesque basins, hills, dense woodlands or serene meadows – and this is where the UNESCO-inscribed wooden tserkvas may be spotted.

What the wooden tserkvas of Polish Carpathian Region have in common is their complex spatial design, with plenty of timber-made hip roofs, cupolas and domes topping their tri-partite ground levels that are adjoined by separate bell towers. The woodwork of each façade still gives testimony to great patience and talent present while preparing the sub-components of the outer layout of these buildings. At the same time, each tserkva of Polish Carpathia is different somehow and it is not enough to see just one of them, as freely picked just before the visit.

The St. Paraskevi Church in Radruz is a 16th century tserkva that was erected upon a hill and fortified with a stone wall in order to serve as a stronghold during Tartar invasions. Its fir and oak-made structure, quite dark from the outside when compared to the other tserkvas, includes an old cemetery and mortuary within the complex. The tserkva has a beautiful wodden polychromy work made in 1648 as the most important exhibit to be seen there. The tserkva of Chotyniec (Mother of God Church), built in 1615, is a Greko-Catholic shrine being particularly famous for its five-tiered iconostasis, made in 1671. The light and triple-roofed design of the shrine makes it one of the most popular attractions of this part of Carpathia. On the other hand, the Boyko-style St. Michael Archangel's tserkva in Smolnik, represents a less-fortunately located church that had been subject to fires, invasions and floods before gaining its final shape in 1791. The sacral artifacts present inside include an 18th-century polychromy work with angelic motifs and impressive royal doors of its extensive iconostasis. The last Carpathian Tserkva on the trail – the early-19-th century St. Michael Archangel's tserkva in Turzansk – provides an example of Lemko sacral art, with its three-storey bell tower and plenty of local motifs included in the iconostasis. Still in operation, it proves that the multiethnicity of Carpathia is not a thing of the past.

The serene landscape of Carpathia, dark interiors of its wooden tserkvas where it is candlelight that lets us appreciate the beauty of Orthodox and Greek Catholic sacral art, bring a lot of peace of mind to visitors. Particularly those coming from Western Europe may find it quite exotic to see the eastern tradition present in such well-preserved shape in Poland – a country that is said to live closer to the Catholic denomination itself. Protected by UNESCO since 2013, the tserkvas of the region are still here to astonish us with their wood-carved architectural details.

Interested in exploring the trail of mystical wooden tserkvas of Polish Carpathia? Contact us for details to have your trip to Poland's finest shrines of wood organised.

Tour Details

  • You are about to visit the objects of religious cult. Remember to dress appropriately.
  • It is possible to arrange a trip to the wooden tserkvas of Carpathia regardless of your place of stay in Poland. Tell us where you are, when you would like the trip taken and we will arrange the tour for you with the hotel pick-up and drop-off included.
  • The price includes: transport, admission fees related to the standard objects on the trail of wooden tserkvas, a guided tour for individuals / small groups of visitors.
  • The trip is suitable for people of all ages.

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