Orthodox parish tserkva of St John the Theologian, Augustowo
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Orthodox parish tserkva of St John the Theologian

Augustowo

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The tserkva, preserved in an almost unaltered state, is a compact structure with a uniform outline and an integrated chancel, representing a type of church particularly popular in the south-western part of the Podlasie region during the early 19th century. Inside, the tserkva features an 18th-century Baroque iconostasis, one of the few of its kind which have survived to the present day in the Podlaskie region.

History

The origins of the Augustowo tserkva are not entirely clear. In 1816, the igumen of the Orthodox monastery in Bielsk Podlaski filed a complaint against the Uniate parish priest of the parish of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who decided to erect a Uniate tserkva in the village of Augustowo, which had a large Orthodox population at the time. From this document, one may conclude that this tserkva was erected in the years 1813-1814. It must have undoubtedly been in existence in the 1830s, when the iconostasis was installed. According to Russian publications on the matter as well as the documentation of the Provincial Office in Białystok, the tserkva in Augustowo was erected in the 1870s as an Orthodox church, with the building materials originating from the demolished refectory tserkva in Bielsk Podlaski; it was subsequently consecrated in 1879. Its builder is said to have been Justyn Oniśkiewicz or Busłowicz, a resident of Augustowo. However, judging by the overall appearance of the tserkva, which was very similar to those erected in the first half of the 19th century in the southern part of the Podlasie region, as well as by the layout of its chancel, which most likely originally featured sacristies with patrons’ galleries (a feature alien to the architecture of Orthodox churches), it would appear that the tserkva is more likely to have been erected in the early 19th century. In the 1950s, a porch was added to the bell tower. In 1982, the tserkva became independent from the Orthodox parish of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bielsk Podlaski and attained the status of a parish tserkva. The most recent renovation works, involving, among others, the replacement of weatherboard cladding, roof cladding and window and door joinery, took place in 2014.

Description

The tserkva is located on the southern side of the road from Wyszki to Bielsk Podlaski, at the western edge of the village. It is surrounded by a cemetery circumscribed by a metal fence. It is oriented towards the east. The overall style of the tserkva can be described as vernacular.

The tserkva consists of a cuboid main body covered with a three-sided roof, adjoined by a three-storey bell tower to the west, the tower itself preceded by a low porch. Each of the individual sections of the tserkva is crowned with a bulbous cupola rising above a cylindrical shaft. The tserkva is a wooden building, with a log structure used for the main body, while the upper storey of the bell tower features a post-and-beam structure instead. Its walls are clad with weatherboards inside and out, the walls reinforced with additional clamps. The façades of the main body and the bell tower are covered with vertically positioned weatherboards at the bottom; the upper section of the walls, separated by a drip cap, features a horizontal arrangement of weatherboards instead. The walls of the porch are likewise covered with horizontally positioned weatherboards. The windows are rectangular in shape, with those piercing the walls of the longer sides of the church featuring truncated corners. The eastern wall of the chancel features a pair of small windows. The side entrance is positioned in the northern façade of the chancel. The interior is a single, open space with a flat ceiling with a raised section above the iconostasis. The chancel is partitioned with walls about two metres in height which divide it into the altarpiece section and a pair of trapezium-shaped sacristies. The vestibule is located on the ground-floor level of the bell tower, with a choir gallery on the second storey above the vestibule, opening towards the nave through a rectangular orifice with a parapet made up of turned balusters. The third storey of the tower houses the bell chamber. The windows of the nave are adorned with dentilled window sills and window headers in the form of nalichniks. The fixtures and fittings include the wooden, double iconostasis from the mid-18th century, designed in the Baroque style and subsequently modified in the second half of the 19th century; some authors believe that the iconostasis was relocated in the 1870s from the refectory tserkva accompanying the Orthodox monastery in Bielsk Podlaski.

The historical monument may be viewed from the outside. The interiors may be visited during church service.

compiled by Aneta Kułak, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 10-12-2015.

Bibliography

  • Fionik D., O cerkwi w Augustowie i Strykach, „Przegląd Prawosławny” 2010, nr 3 (http://przegladprawoslawny.pl/articles.php?id_n=2256&id=8 )
  • Karta ewidencyjna, Cerkiew parafialna p.w. św. Apostoła Jana Teologa. Augustowo, oprac. Ryżewski G., Kułak A., Górska I., Kotyńska Stetkiewicz J., 2009, Archiwum Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Ochrony Zabytków w Białymstoku i Archiwum Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa w Warszawie.
  • Kraina Jahusztowo, praca zbiorowa, Augustowo 2005.
  • Maroszek J., Katolicy-unici w Bielsku Podlaskim w latach 1596-1839, [w:] Romaniuk Z. (red.), Bielsk Podlaski. Studia i materiały do dziejów miasta, Bielsk Podlaski 1999, s. 31-82.
  • Matus I., Schyłek unii i proces restytucji prawosławia w obwodzie białostockim w latach 30. XIX wieku, Białystok 2013.
  • Sosna G., Troc-Sosna A., Cerkiewna własność ziemska na Białostocczyźnie w XV-XX wieku, Białystok 2004.

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: 1813 - 1814
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Augustowo
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district bielski, commune Bielsk Podlaski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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