Tarnow

Wooden Tserkvas of the Polish Carpathians

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In 2013, sixteen unique wooden Orthodox churches in the Carpathian Mountains along the borders of Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Officially listed as 'Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine,' these objects were all built between the 16th and 19th centuries by Orthodox or Greek Catholic communities, and represent exceptional examples of the once-common Orthodox ecclesiastical timber architecture of the Slavic countries. Of these sixteen most-valued surviving churches, eight are in Poland, and of those eight, four are in Małopolska - the Church of St. Jacob the Younger in Powroźnik, the Church of St. Paraskevi in Kwiatoń, the Church of the Protection of the Mother of God in Owczary, and the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Brunary Wyżne.
Tserkva in Kwiatoń; photo by By Piter329c, Wikimedia

Known as 'cerkiewy' in Polish and anglicised as 'tserkvas' from Ukrainian, Małopolska's four tserkvas are all Greek Orthodox and the western-most churches of the sixteen, lying south of Tarnów in most south-eastern corner of the voivodeship near Gorlice. The interiors of each of these wooden wonders can be visited for free from May to December, and exploring the wooden architecture trail takes you through some absolutely beautiful countryside, but you'll need your own vehicle to get from one site to the next.

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