The wooden Churches of Maramureş
The region of Maramures is well-known for it’s wooden churches, actually having almost 100 of them! Eight are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. This is the story of three of them.
Ieud is the oldest of the eight, dating back to 1364. It is often referred to as the hill church, since it situated on a (yes you guessed right….) hill. Walking among the graves as the sun was setting and the church bells were ringing, gave a mystical atmosphere. Unfortunately the church was closed as we arrived in the evening, but the outside sure was beautiful enough to make it worth the visit.
Poienile Izei is yet another beautiful wooden church, built between 1604 and 1632. Idyllically located on a green meadow between the trees, the inside show the slightly less idyllic perception of Hell. However, definitely very interesting, and actually made us laugh a bit.
The whole church is decorated at all possible surfaces by paintings on very well preserved thin textile, telling the story of the life of Jesus, heaven, and hell. The latter decorations are found out in the entrance hall, just to the left as you go through the door. These images describing Hell show animals spitting fire, a plow that plows back and forth in a human body, a devil who hammers a chisel into a buttock, and various other torture methods. Last, but not least, the one that made us laugh; the devil playing violin beside a bed with a man trying to sleep. Priceless!
The last of the three wooden church on the UNESCO World Heritage list is a part of the Baršana monastery complex. The other houses are built in the same architecture, making a beautiful setting.
We of course saw countless other wooden churches on our way through Maramures, including Sapanta-Peri with the highest wooden spire, 75 meters tall!