BOGDAN VODA (CUHEA) wooden church, Maramures County, Romania

Bogdan Voda wooden church, general view
Bogdan Voda wooden church, general view

The village was first recorded in 1353 with name Cuhea. The name of the village – Bogdan Voda – comes from the name of the heroic founder of Moldavia in 1359, and who was a native of this place. The village was the centre of this principality from Valea Izei. (the Iza river valley).

The wooden church, named after “St. Nicholas”, was built in 1718, on the site of a former church, which was burnt down by the Tartars,in 1717. It is a true representative of the arclutecture of the churches from Maramures. The structure is rounded and built in two stages. The two tiers of the roof are supported by roof-brackets that extend in equal steps. The characteristic twisted carved rope in high relief surrounds the lower part of the outer wall.

The slender bell-tower has a watchtower that extends to be wider than the tower itself.

Wooden church detail
Wooden church detail

The parapet is hidden by boards; carved with many small holes. On the sides, there are three arches joined in an original way. The steeple is square at the bottom and becomes octagonal in the middle. It ends with a cross, made of wrought iron.

The doorframe for the entrance door is in the shape of an archway. On this frame there is slightly raised carved twisted rope in wood that is joined to the twisted frieze that surrounds the outer walls of the church. This architectural device gives whole the assembly a homogeneous character.

Separating wall between the nave and the pronaos
Separating wall between the nave and the pronaos

The separating wall between the pronaos and the nave has three openings in arcades covered with latticework, made of wrought iron. The carved frame of the door is painted in the characteristic local colours.

The Holy Doors, the archbishop’s high-backed armchair, the chandelier and the wooden icons are well worth mentioning. The painting on the walls is mostly destroyed, but one can observe the timeless aspect of the epic bible stories. They were painted in lighten colours, specific to these Maramures wooden churches in red, blue and white, underlined by pastel shades of ochre, yellow and green. The surfaces are covered with floral branches in spirals. Simple red frames accompanied by Slavonic inscriptions and scenes painted in the style of the typical Byzantine iconography, characters and buildings fill the empty spaces.

On the walls of the pronaos one can admire scenes taken from the Old Testament:

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

”David’s Penance”, ”David Defeating Goliath” alongside ones from The New Testament like ”The Birth of Jesus”. On the western wall of the nave, there are scenes with John the Baptist in the lower panels and with Mary and her parents in the upper part, a scene not so often seen in these churches.

On the walls of the Sanctuary there are faces, and scenes with Hierarchs, ”Golgotha”, “Abraham’s Sacrifice” and so on. The Holy Doors of the Iconostasis are decorated with painted Archangels, next to the beautiful Principal icons of Jesus and His Mother Mary, both of which are well preserved.

From the two cross-shaped chandeliers that framed the large one fixed in the middle of the vault in the nave, only one has survived. The icons painted on glass also belong to the valuable historic treasures of this church.



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