Uniate parish tserkva, currently serving as the Orthodox cemetery tserkva of the Holy Trinity, Bielsk Podlaski
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Uniate parish tserkva, currently serving as the Orthodox cemetery tserkva of the Holy Trinity

Bielsk Podlaski

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The tserkva is one of the few surviving Uniate churches designed on an octagonal plan, located in the vicinity of Orla and Bielsk Podlaski and erected in the second half of the 18th century. Its distinguishing features include the well-preserved, harmonious overall shape as well as a highly unusual interior layout with two pairs of pillars and a separate choir gallery.

History

The Orthodox parish of the Holy Trinity in Bielsk Podlaski was originally founded in the mid-16th century, its establishment confirmed in 1560 by king Sigismund August. The parish itself was based in a wooden tserkva located at the intersection of the Litewska and Wypustowa streets, currently known as Mickiewicza and Widowska streets respectively. After 1596, it became a Uniate parish. In the late 17th and early 18th century, the entire parish saw a period of precipitous decline. In 1779, the old tserkva was already in a state of ruin, with the interior fixtures and fittings being relocated to another church in Bielsk Podlaski - the tserkva of St Michael. The existing tserkva was erected in 1799. Due to the poor technical condition of the building and the declining number of parishioners, the parish was ultimately dissolved in 1834, with the remaining faithful now forming part of the parish of St Michael in Bielsk Podlaski. In 1851, the tserkva was relocated to the cemetery. It was also at that point that its bell tower was extended upwards through the addition of a single storey. In 1852, an iconostasis created by Mikołaj Michnow, a craftsman from Brańsk, was installed at the tserkva. In 1975, the wood shingle roofing was replaced with sheet metal. In the 1990s, the walls of the tserkva were repainted both inside and out. In the years 2013/2014, the tserkva underwent renovation works which involved the replacement of the sill plates and damaged wooden structural logs, the window joinery as well as the roof truss and cladding.

Description

The building is oriented towards the east; it is situated in the middle of the cemetery on Wojska Polskiego street (in the Orthodox section thereof). It was designed in the Baroque style.

The nave of the tserkva was designed on a slightly elongated octagonal floor plan. A three-storey bell tower rises above the front section of the tserkva, while a sacristy designed on a rectangular floor plan and featuring an entrance in its northern side adjoins the eastern wall of the building. The nave features an eight-faced roof, while the tower is topped with a pyramid hipped roof, both of them surmounted by bulbous cupolas positioned on polygonal shafts.

The tserkva is made of wooden logs, its roofs clad with copper sheet. The façades are covered with weatherboards. The church features wooden floors and ceilings. The windows and doors are made of wood. The small-pane windows are rectangular in shape.

The interior features a flat ceiling supported by four quadrangular pillars with octagonal upper sections. The chancel is separated from the rest of the interior by the iconostasis. A choir gallery occupies the second storey of the bell tower.

The fixtures and fittings include a wooden iconostasis from the mid- 19th century.

The building can be viewed from the outside; the interiors are only accessible during church service.

compiled by Tomasz Rogala, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 18-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Jaroszewicz J., Miasto Bielsk, Studziwody 2007, pp. 105-107, 113.
  • Sosna G., Fionik D., Dzieje cerkwi w Bielsku Podlaskim, Białystok 1995, pp. 173-186.
  • Zieleniewski J., Powstanie i rozwój układu przestrzennego Bielska Podlaskiego w XIV-XVIII wieku, “Studia Podlaskie”, vol. I, pp. 47-70.
  • http://www.przegladprawoslawny.pl/articles.php?id_n=3096&id=8

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: 1799 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Bielsk Podlaski
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district bielski, commune Bielsk Podlaski (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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