UNESCO Maramures Biserici de Lemn


Maramureș Wooden Churches

The Wooden Churches of Maramureș in the Maramureş region in north of Transylvania represent a group of around one hundred Orthodox churches of different architectural solutions from different periods. They are timber constructions with characteristic tall, slim bell towers and represent a particular vernacular expression of the cultural landscape of this mountain area. Maramureș is one of the better-known regions of Romania, with autonomous traditions since the Middle Ages – but still not much visited. Its well-preserved wooden villages and churches, its traditional lifestyle, and the local colourful dresses still in use make Maramureș a living museum.
The wooden churches of the region were built starting with the 16th century to the 19th century. Some were erected on the place of older churches. They are a response mostly to a prohibition from the Austro Hungarian empire against the erection of stone Orthodox churches. The churches are made of thick logs, some are quite small and dark inside but several of them have impressive measures. They are painted with rather “naïve” Biblical scenes, mostly by local painters. The most characteristic features are the tall tower above the entrance and the massive roof that seems to dwarf the main body of the church.
In 1999 eight of these wooden churches of Maramures were listed by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, for their religious architecture and timber construction traditions. They are located in Bârsana, Budeşti, Deseşti, Ieud, Plopiş, Poienile Izei, Rogoz, Şurdeşti.
Historical Maramureș
The historical Romanian region of Maramureș, divided between Romania and Sub-Carpathian Ukraine after the Second World War, is one of the places where traditional log building was not interrupted and where a rich wooden heritage survived. Since the knowledge used to build the local wooden churches circulated throughout Europe, their understanding is of high interest far outside the region. In Maramureș today almost 100 wooden churches still exist, about one third of their total two centuries ago. Besides the existing wooden churches, a major source of knowledge is still saved by a number of practicing senior carpenters with relevant knowledge and skills in traditional carpentry. The craftsmen from Maramureș who were able to reach such levels were not simple peasants but well specialized church carpenters who inherited and maintained this advanced knowledge to exclusively build houses of worship. Since the local tradition to erect wooden churches depended on those who built and used them, it is fundamental to identify the local builders and founders. The earlier blurred distinction between them veiled their separate roles in shaping the wooden churches and hindered us from a clear understanding of the results.
The wooden churches from Maramureș reveal the existence during the 17th and 18th centuries of at least two main family schools of church carpenters. There are further distinguishable three main itineraries and numerous smaller ones, indicating the work of some of the most important church carpenters ever active in the region and in some cases even shifts among generations. In general, the church carpenters stood for the technical performances, the high quality of the wood work and the artistic refinement. In a long perspective, the true creators of the local wooden churches were actually the commissioning founders. Especially the role of the noble founders of Eastern Christian rite was decisive in the formation of a regional character among the local wooden churches. The wooden churches from Maramureș closely mirror the local society of modest country landlords, manifesting themselves along several centuries in their double condition of Eastern Christians and Western nobles.
Representative wooden churches
The list shows existing wooden churches in bold and also includes some known vanished ones. For those now in Ukraine, Romanian and Hungarian names of Ukrainian villages are given in (parentheses). In Romanian, Susani denotes “high-dwellers” and Josani “lower-dwellers”. Thus the names distinguish the churches of those large villages which had more than one.
Cavnic valley
Plopiş (UNESCO)
Surdeşti (UNESCO)
Lăpuș valley
Rogoz (UNESCO)
Cosău valley
• Budeşti Susani
Budeşti Josani (UNESCO)
• Călineşti Căeni (Felsö Kalinfalu in Hungarian)
• Călineşti Susani
• Corneşti (Somfalu in Hungarian)
• Fereşti (Fejerfalu in Hungarian)
• Sârbi Susani (Szerfalu in Hungarian)
• Sârbi Josani
Mara valley
• Berbeşti (Bardfalu in Hungarian)
• Breb
Deseşti (UNESCO)
• Hărniceşti (Hernecs in Hungarian)
• Hoteni (Hotinka in Hungarian)
• Mănăstirea
• Sat Şugătag (Falu Sugatag in Hungarian)
Iza valley
Bârsana (UNESCO)
• Botiza
• Botiza old
• Cuhea (Bogdan Voda at present,Konyha in Hungarian)
• Dragomireşti
• Glod
Ieud Deal (UNESCO)
Ieud Şes
• Năneşti (Nanfalu in Hungarian)
• Onceşti
Poienile Izei (UNESCO)
• Rozavlea
• Săliştea de Sus, Nistoreşti
• Săliştea de Sus, Buleni
• Şieu (Sajo in Hungarian)
• Slătioara (Szlatinka in Hungarian)
• Strâmtura (Szurdok in Hungarian)
Valea Stejarului
Vișeu valley
• Borşa din Jos (Borsa in Hungarian)
• Crăciuneşti (Karacsonfalu in Hungarian)
• Moisei Josani
• Mănăstirea Moisei (Mojszen in Hungarian)
• Moisei Susani
• Poienile de sub Munte (Ruszpolyana in Hungarian)
• Repedea (Ruszkirva in Hungarian)
• Rona de Jos (Felsö Rona in Hungarian)
• Văleni (Mikolapatak in Hungarian)
Ukrainian side
• Apşiţa (Voditsa in Ukrainian, Felso-Apsa-Apsicza in Hungarian)
• Apşa de Mijloc, Susani (Sredneye Vodyanoye is Ukrainian, Kozep Apsa in Hungarian)
• Apşa de Mijloc, Josani
• Apşa din Jos, Părău (Nyzhnia Apsha/Dibrova is Ukrainian, Also-Apsa in Hungarian)
• Danylovo (Dănilești in Romanian, Sofalva in Hungarian)
• Dulovo (Duleni in Romanian, Dulfalva in Hungarian)
• Ganychi (Gănești in Romanian, Ganya in Hungarian)
• Kobyletska Poliana (Poiana Cobilei in Romanian and Gyergyanliget in Hungarian)
• Kolodne (Darva in Romanian and Hungarian)
• Krainykovo (Mihalka in Hungarian, formerly Steblivka between 1919-1938 and 1945-1946, Crăinicești in Romanian)
• Neresnytsia (Nereșnița in Romanian, Also Neresznicze in Hungarian)
• Nyzhnie Selyshche (Săliștea de Jos in Romanian, Also Szelistye in Hungarian)
• Olexandrivka (Sândreni in Romanian, Sandorfalva in Hungarian)
• Ruska Pole I (Domneștii Mari in Romanian, Urmezo in Hungarian)
• Ruska Pole II (Domneștii Mici in Romanian)
• Sokyrnytsia (Săclânța in Romanian, Szeklencze in Hungarian)
• Steblivka (Duboșari in Romanian, Szaldobos in Hungarian)
• Ternovo (Târnova in Romanian, Kokenyes in Hungarian)