Wooden Churches of Southern Małopolska,
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Wooden Churches of Southern Małopolska

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The entry on the World Heritage List pertaining to the wooden churches of Southern Małopolska encompasses the following buildings:

  • the church of St Michael the Archangel in Binarowa,
  • the church of All Saints in Blizne,
  • the church of St Michael the Archangel in Dębno Podhalańskie,
  • the church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Haczów,
  • the church of St Leonard in Lipnica Murowana,
  • the church of St Philip and St Jacob in Sękowa.
 

The property consists of six the oldest and best-preserved wooden churches of the Carpathian Foothills, in the northern part of Western Carpathian Mountains. All of the churches continue to serve their original functions, with some of them being exceptionally significant in religious terms due to the fact that they house religious images which have attained a cult status.

The wooden churches of southern Małopolska are an outstanding example of the medieval Roman Catholic tradition of church construction. The common features of these buildings is not only the period of their construction and the materials used, but also their architectural form and structure. These Gothic churches, oriented towards the east, consist of a nave, a narrower, three-sided chancel and a tower with a belfry on top, added at a later date in the western section of the temple (with the exception of the towerless church in Lipnica Murowana). The main body of the churches was circumscribed by arcades known traditionally as the soboty. These churches, based on a log structure - a technique that was popular in northern and eastern parts of Europe at the time - are distinguishable due to the structural solutions applied. The use of the roof truss with extended upper logs of the chancel walls, resulting in the distinctive, dropped side sections of the ceiling, has led to the use of single, steep roofs covering both the nave and the chancel; these roofs, covered with wood shingles, served to reinforce the structure of the building. The towers, on the other hand, were built using a post-and-frame structure. The preservation of age-old traditions, including the carpentry techniques characteristic for the region, has made it possible for the original character of the buildings to be retained.

These impressive churches, founded by local noble families, are distinguished by their excellent architectural detailing and their lavish interior fittings and decorations, created using a variety of techniques and in a variety of styles and yet presenting a uniformly high artistic quality. The interior wall paintings deserve a particular attention, including those which were executed using stencilling techniques. The interior decorations are extremely varied in terms of their iconography, many of them conveying an educational message in accordance with the medieval decorative tradition.

The landscape value of these churches should also be emphasised, as the buildings remain the dominant features in the surrounding landscape, most of them being located in picturesque mountain valleys.

The Wooden Churches of Southern Małopolska were included on the World Heritage List in 2003 during the 27th session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris (dec. 27 COM 8C.36).

Entry made on the basis of criteria III and IV:

Criterion (III)

The wooden churches of Southern Małopolska bear important testimony to medieval church building traditions associated with the liturgical and cult functions of the Roman Catholic Church in this relatively isolated region of Central Europe.

Criterion (IV)

The churches are the most representative examples of surviving Gothic churches built using the horizontal log technique; they are particularly impressive in their artistic and technical execution, and were sponsored by noble families and rulers as symbols of social and political prestige.

Buildings are available to visitors.

Compiled on the basis of materials of the National Heritage Board of Poland, 30-11-2015

General information

  • Type: cultural
  • Chronology: XV - XVI w.
  • Form of protection: UNESCO
  • Location: Voivodeship małopolskie, district , commune
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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