Bicaz wooden church, Maramures County, Romania

Bicaz wooden church, general view and detail
Bicaz wooden church, general view and detail

The village was first recorded in 1424 and is well known for the archeological discoveries that date from the bronze age.

The wooden church is on the hill named Bicajel, and built in 1723. The forest situated near Valea Oasului was the place from where the wood was cut and brought in order to build this church. The Patron Saints of the church are the Holy Archangels.

The construction is typical with porch, pronaos, nave and apse all covered with a single roof made of shigles joined with dove—tail joints. Even the 16m high bell-tower is covered with dovetailed shingles. This part of the root was restored in 1940.

Under the eaves the free spaces between the brackets are decorated with beams having raised longitudinal decorations that give the construction a special elegance.

The entrance door is massive; the frame is arched, while the entrance decorated with the

The doorframe of the entrance to the nave
The doorframe of the entrance to the nave

rope carving design so popular on these churches. At both ends the rope turns into spirals that surround rosettes with arabesques. The access to the church is through the south door. There are rosettes on the small doors.

A Byzantine cross, bordered by styled rosettes is above the door. Under them a line made up of petals  and three zigzag lines that beautify this church.

The passage door between the pronaos and the nave is very beautiful. The sides of the portals are decorated with the twisted rope design in three parallel rows. They are bordered by geometrical motifs that end at the bottom in two rosettes. All these motifs are carved and painted in light colours, mainly a brick-colour.

The frontal paintings are partly preserved. They impress by the fullness of the composition, the individual expressions on the faces and the warm colours, mainly orange-red, light green, blue and light grey.

Detail of painting in the pronaos
Detail of painting in the pronaos

In the pronaos there are scenes presenting the Punishments in Hell. Horny devils with snake bodies, bat wings and cow heads create an overwhelming image of the life after death that sinners are doomed to experience.

The side walls of the nave still reserve scenes that are inspired from Jesus life: “The Washing of Feet”, ”The Last Supper” (with Jesus at the corner of the table), His mocking and His crucifixion. These scenes are painted in little rectangles on an orange backgroung.

The Iconostasis has two tiers. In the lower row Jesus is accompanied by the Apostles, with

Detail of painting on the Iconostasis
Detail of painting on the Iconostasis

all their names written above tale frames in Slavonic letters and in a gothic style. In the upper row there is Jesus on the cross wit his Holy Mother Mary and St. John, while to the side there are the two thieves (also on crosses) and soldiers. In the background we can see Jerusalem.

The Icons are well preserved. They are painted on a golden background in lively colours and decorated with vegetal motifs. The characters have a detached attitude specific to the Byzantine style of icon painting.

The Holy Doors
The Holy Doors

Above the Holy Doors there is a beautiful painted frieze decorated with cross-shaped petals rhombuses and styled crosses.

Pictures of Patriarchs and Hierarchs as well as the portrait of the priest that founded the church Vasile Popa, decorate the altar.

The stone on which the  Holy  Table or altar stands is a block of round stone that still preserves its Slavomc inscriptions.


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