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Old wooden Ukrainian church from the village of Poliany, Romania

Adrian Vishovan - abbot, pastor of the church.
Жити (з) мистецтвом
Жити (з) мистецтвом
The oldest Ukrainian wooden church in Romania.

A silent witness to hundreds of years of history

It is snowing on the street, and the linen around the small wooden church of the Ascension of the Lord from the village of The glades of Maramures County (Romania), make you immerse yourself even more in the atmosphere hundreds of years ago, from the beginning of the existence of this cult place. Then the tiny church, which looked more like a carved wooden chapel, became an expensive place for a large community, being at one time the only church for a community of more than 13,000 inhabitants. It was built soon after the arrival on these lands of some inhabitants of Slavic origin, from the monarchy with the Christian faith – Polish Galicia. So, it’s the first Ukrainian church in these territories; it is recognized as a historical monument, being the oldest church of its kind in Romania. The church location is unusual: in a straight place, in the middle of a large open courtyard. According to museographer Vasyl Timur Chysh:

The church has a simple plan. It has an open polygonal fern, a pronaos with a ceiling open to the nave, which has a semi-cylindrical vault and a polygonal altar with a polygonal vault.

If you raise your head slightly, you can see the first year on the church tower — 1598, which means the year of construction, and then other years: 1798, 1874, 1921, 1962, 1987 and 2013, when the church underwent various restorations. The roof of the church tower has the shape of a bell, which is very different from the style of other places of worship in Maramures, reminiscent of Ukrainian influences. The bell tower, elevated above the pronaos, consists of a closed gazebo with four windows, one on each side. Its roof is with an octagonal base elongated octagonal in the shape of a bell and has a wrought-iron cross on top. Between 1981-1988, the nearby first church constructed another one. It was much stronger and more spacious, which is now one of the three Orthodox churches in Polyany. Therefore, it is how the contrast of times formed, which challenges the imagination. Past and present greet each other every day, each of them continues to monitor their affairs. The abbot, the priest Vishovan Adrian, is the one who opens the doors of this church to us, a silent witness of time. He is the one who takes care of the church at the moment. It is dark inside the church because it’s not electrified. Light penetrates only through the door and two windows in the nave, four windows and doors in the nave and three windows in the altar. All windows are large, framed (which is rare in the churches of Maramures). From the documents of the monument, we also learned that the size of the windows and frames are not specific to the wooden churches of the Maramures region. It was designed from the very beginning to let as much light as possible into the church. Above us hangs a large chandelier with candles, which provide the needed light for the night worship. In church, there is no heating either, so in the cold periods, the parishioners who came to the worship would heat only spiritually. Because of the size, the church can’t host all the parishioners inside. So, most of them are standing outside and from there listened to the worship. Access to the church for women is from the west. It starts from the portico to the pronaos, and move through three large openings to the naos. Men have access from the south directly to the nave. The altar accessed through three doors. The nave has a balcony for young people and a church choir. The church’s walls made of spruce wood, carved on four sides and carved with a chisel. The fresco from the church was covered with blue paint, which led to its destruction. Worship is rarely held here, only on temple holidays. Priest Vishovan shows us some church exhibits, including a very old painting with Jesus, which seems to have stood the test of time, although its condition is not the best. Church flags embroidered or sewn by village women and donated to the church are also very valuable and are another proof of the community’s commitment to this place of worship. Church objects and vestments, incense, candlesticks, teaspoons, crosses and other similar objects typical of church services used for many years in this church are well presented in a small exhibition and are waiting, like the old church, to be properly addressed. attention. We learn that several steps have already been taken to restore the church. Soon everything will be completed and this place of worship will be included in the UNESCO heritage.
Author of the text Maria Cinar-Jiga
Photo author Kelin Elijah

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