BREB wooden church, near Ocna Sugatag, Maramures County, Romania

Breb wooden church, general view
Breb wooden church, general view

The village is recorded in 1360 in a document of the king of Hungary, Ludovic I Anjou. In this document he gives Dragos, the son of Gyula, from Giulesti, some properties, including the village of Breb.

Some descendants of Dragos built in 1531 a wooden church on the site named Copacis, about 1.5 km away from the present village. The church was then rebuilt in 1626, on the land of the boyar Boteanu, according to the wishes of his wife and against his own will. The paintings were made in that year. Later on, in 1643, the church was enlarged, and in 1715 and 1864 it was repaired. These repeated interventions left their marks not only on the interior of the church, but also on its exterior, as there are some painted lateral beams, which prove that their initial position was in the interior.

The wooden church has walls joined by dovetails, at the corners. It is in the shape of a

Wooden church detail
Wooden church detail

cross, because of the two lateral apses. They have their own framework and complete the pentagonal main apse. The one-piece roof that covers the building impresses the visitor by its bell-tower and the watchtower that extends from the tower (bordered by a parapet rail). The balcony, with eight pillars connected by elaborate arcades, supports a square steeple that becomes rounded at the top.

The Iconostasis is remarkable because of its beautiful decorations, in high relief, with the vegetable motif of laurels or, maybe, of ferns. These also appear on the frames of the icons. The Holy Doors are carved with vine leaves (a well-known traditional motif), ending in the uper part with bunches of flowers, which enclose two oval medallions of the Annunciation. The Iconostasis was painted in 1868 by Francisc Bercay from Satu Mare in a traditional Byzantine style, with certain Western influences.

Details of painting in the Sanctuary
Details of painting in the Sanctuary

In the Sanctuary one can admire a beautiful frieze with geometrical motifs, taken from traditional patterns. It is painted in red, yellow and blue; these colours are always present in the iconography of Maramures wooden churches.

There is an icon on the Holy Table in the Sanctuary, representing the Holy Mother (dressed in an hierarch’s clothin ) with the Holy Child. God the Omniscient, symbolized as an eye enclosed in a triangle, watches from up above. This image is frequent in the Oriental Orthodox iconography.

The church houses an old and beautiful wooden goblet, carved with the motif of the laurel (or the fern). There is also a wooden Greek style cross. The cross is painted on golden background.

In the bell-tower, 17 m high, uilt later, there is a bell with the inscription “IN DOMINE SPERAVI, ANO DOMINI 1796” (in God we hope), weighing 100 kilos.



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