CORNESTI wooden church, near Calinesti, Maramures County, Romania

The wooden church
The wooden church

The village was recorded in 1470 by a document released by Matei Corvin, the king of Hungary.

The wooden church, whose patron saint is St. Nicholas, was built in 1615, on the site of a former church. It follows traditional Maramures plan and size and decoration in its woodcarving. The roof has a double level structure and a bell-tower with its watchtower supported by pillars linked by skilful joints in arches. At the centre the tower is in the shape of a cup; above it a short curved spire. A three-arm cross completes the structure. This cross is a sign of the size and importance of the village. In front of the tower there is a half-spire with a cross, a decorative element frequently used in Chioar and Lapus.

The joints at the corners are remarkable, with hidden elements and braces in thick steps,

The wooden church detail
The wooden church detail

cut in a straight manner and rounded in their lower parts. They support the lower part of the curve and narrow roof, which joins the upper part of the roof truss from the disconnected apse.

The horizontal ceiling of the pronaos, recently restored, still preserves scenes from the specific local iconography, with Slavonic inscriptions displayed at random. This can be also notice in the rows of paintings on the walls of the nave, which are separated by floral friezes, framing flowers and rows of small stars. Scenes depicting Emperors, Empresses, Priests, Pious people (wearing traditional Maramures clothes), Monks, Turks, Tartars, The Wise Bridesmaids, and so on, are all in an authentic

The wooden church detail
The wooden church detail

local style, revealing the qualities of painter Toader Hodor from Viseu deMijloc, who painted the walls in 1750, in Baroque style.

There are also other scenes, in the Sanctuary ,like “The Last Supper”, “Jesus Washing Saint Peter’s Feet”, ”Elijah in his Chariot of Fire’, and faces of saints between the colonnades of the church, surrounded by vine leaves and rich bunches of grapes.

The church has two icons on wood: one with Jesus and another one with the ” Dormition of Our Lord’s Mother”. The composition is complex, the faces are individual and the empty spaces are covered with church towers painted in vivid colors specific to this region: bright red, dark blue and light yellow. The all were painted by Al. Ponehalschi, around 1735.



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