Barsana wooden church, Maramures County, Romania

Barsana wooden church, general view and detail
Barsana wooden church, general view and detail

This settlement was first recorded in 1326 by King Charles Robert of Anjou. He acknowledge Stanislav, Stan’s son, as the local lord (Boyar) of this area. Another document from 1346 mentions Stanislav as Barsan’s son, so the name of the village has most probably derived from his name.

The wooden church named ”The Entrly of Our Lord’s Mother into the Temple ”, was built around 1720, replacing the one that had been burnt down by the “Tartars three years before.

The building impresses by its elaborated structure, the overlapped porch and the two- staged roof merging above the apse. The walls are made of massive oak beams artfully joined at their corners in dovetails; and they gradually extend towards the exterior up to the corona of wood, to form brackets that hold up the lower-level framework.

The front side of the porch has on its first level a small arch right above tlie entrance and

Detail of painting in the Iconostasis
Detail of painting in the Iconostasis

two larger ones on the sides. On the next level there are three equal-sized arches made up of simple semi-circles all attached by wooden nails, lacking the central wedges often used elsewhere.

The bell-tower has a five-staged watchtower extended over the main framework on which three side pillars are fastened. The pillars are connected by arcades carved in the brace (the space between the pillar and the beam) on the same pattern as that found on the porch. The watchtower gallery is protected by a hidden wall; made of fret-sawn wooden boards. On top of the watchtower gallery there is a pyramidal spire, in octagonal section, which ends with a wrought iron cross which is similar to those found on tie bottom corners of the roof that covers the nave and the apse.

Detail of painting in the nave
Detail of painting in the nave

Twisted rope decorates the frame of the entrance door, ending in a big circle at the bottom of the door, and in the shape of a beak on the top. The same motif is found on the frame of the passage door between the pronaos and the nave. On the outside, the church is surrounded by a twisted rope; interrupted on the middle of each sidewall by the shape of a circle.

The iconography is rich. The economy of the space is remarkable as there are portraits painted in simple small round medallions or a apple-shaped ones. They are decorated with floral ornaments separated by twisted and winding friezes.

On the vault above the nave, one can admire rich scenes picturing ”The Archangels Synod”, ”Saint Elijah’s Ascension”, ”The Holy Mother’s Ascension”, ”]acob’s Ladder” surrounded by the four Evangelists, and above all God the Father and Jesus in glory.

On the bottom side of the vault scenes from Genesis can be admired. They are painted in

Detail of painting in the nave
Detail of painting in the nave

circular medallions. Under the vault, on rectangular boards separated by floral vines, ”A Cycle of  the Passions” is displayed. The next scenes are episodes from Jesus life, and right under these Saints and Martyrs, Parables and Miracles.

The ceiling vault above the Altar is decorated with medallions of angels, while on the sides there are Saints, Patriarchs, The Holy Trinity and Jesus, “The True Vine”.


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