Wooden Churches of Maramures

Aug 21, 2017 2 comments

In the Maramureș region of northern Romania are a group of almost one hundred Orthodox churches built between the 17th and the 19th centuries. These churches are considered outstanding examples of “vernacular religious wooden architecture resulting from the interchange of Orthodox religious traditions with Gothic influences”. The churches are of high timber constructions with characteristic tall, slim bell towers above the entrance and massive shingles-covered roof that dwarfs the main body of the church. The churches have a variety of designs showing a high level of artistic maturity and craftsmanship.


Left: The Sârbi Susani church. Photo credit: Alexandru Babos/Wikimedia. Right: The Wooden Church of Şurdeşti. Photo credit: Idobi/Wikimedia

The tradition of building wooden churches in central and southern Maramureș can be traced to the beginning of the 16th century. This region, partitioned between Romania and Sub-Carpathian Ukraine after the Second World War, is one of the places where traditional log building has a long uninterrupted history and where a rich heritage in wood survives. Wood has long been and continues to be the medium of expression for the region's artisans. The skills, knowledge and experience of the craftsmen is out of the ordinary. Even today the skill is still practiced by senior carpenters who are a major source of knowledge in traditional carpentry.

At one time there were over 300 wooden churches in Maramureș. Only a hundred exist now. Out of these eight churches listed by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites for their religious architecture and timber construction traditions.


The church of Saint Nicholas in Budești Josani. The church was built in 1643. Photo credit: damian entwistle/Flickr


An old wooden church in Rona de Jos, Maramureş. Photo credit: Hans-Peter.Fuchs/Wikimedia


Church of the Holy Archangels, Rogoz. Photo credit: Victor Sasu/Wikimedia


The Barsana Monastery complex. Photo credit: CameliaTWU/Flickr


The Barsana Monastery complex. Photo credit: OE3BLS/Flickr


The Barsana Monastery complex. Photo credit: OE3BLS/Flickr


Cornești church. Photo credit: Țetcu Mircea Rareș/Wikimedia


  1. Some photos of the interior would have made the article much better

  2. The craftsmanship is out of this world,


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