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Filial Greek Catholic tserkva of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, currently a Roman Catholic filial chapel of the nativity of the Virgin Mary - Zabytek.pl

Filial Greek Catholic tserkva of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, currently a Roman Catholic filial chapel of the nativity of the Virgin Mary

tserkva Gorajec


woj. podkarpackie, pow. lubaczowski, gm. Cieszanów-obszar wiejski

The tserkva is one of the oldest surviving wooden Greek Catholic churches in Poland.Original structure of tension ties, trusses and bracing preserved in the nave’s dome as well as unique wall paintings from the 17th century deserve particular attention.


According to a visit record of 1743, the tserkva was consecrated around 1586. However, the document equipping the parish in Gorajec dates back only to 1618. Therefore, the current state of research does not allow us to unambiguously state the construction date of this feature. This was probably the first tserkva in Gorajec, since this town was established only in 1560. In the second quarter of the 17th century the interior of the nave was covered with wall painting that forms a part of the iconostasis. An architectural iconostasis, preserved to our times, was probably created in the second quarter of the 18th century (in 1743 it was referred to as “new”). In the first period after construction it had a single-dome body and - perhaps - a small bell tower over the narthex. The tserkva underwent numerous alterations in the 19th and early 20th century. Probably in the early 19th century (after 1815) a new chancel was erected, while in 1835 a new narthex and choir gallery were added (the date of this reconstruction has been preserved over the narthex door). In the years 1867-1868 the interior was covered with wall paintings. The tserkva was significantly altered during the expansion in around 1903. The feature was expanded by two large, five-axis flanks added to the nave and opening towards it nearly over its entire width. In 1947 the tserkva was taken over by the Roman Catholic church. In the years 1992-2001 the feature underwent a full-scale renovation, during which the wall paintings from the 17th century were uncovered and a partial reconstruction of the original body of the tserkva took place by removing the nave’s flanks added around 1903.


The tserkva is located in the centre of Gorajec, at a rural road, on a small square whose southern edge lowers towards the valley of Gnojnik stream. There is a wooden bell tower to the north-east of the tserkva, which was relocated from Majdan Sieniawski in 1994.

The tserkva is made of wooden logs positioned on a stone foundation.

It is a tripartite structure consisting of a square nave and a smaller chancel added to it in the east and a narthex - slightly larger than the chancel - added to it in the west. Floor plans of both parts are similar to a square. The body of the tserkva includes a clear partition into three sections, out of which the central section - nave - is the tallest. It is covered with a single-recess tented roof. The chancel and narthex are covered with eight-faced pyramid roofs, resting on octagonal tholobates. Roofs are crowned with cylinder-shaped faux lanterns of a different size (the largest one surmounts the nave, the smallest tops the narthex), covered with small cupolas. Spaces between walls of the tholobate and corner joints of the head-piece are covered with basket-arch roofs. A horizontal partition is also clear, as it was obtained owing to circumscription of the entire tserkva with a pronounced roof cover (skirt roof) resting on profiled, projecting beams (rafter tails). The log structure beneath the roof is exposed, while above this roof the entire building is clad with wood shingles. There are rectangular door and window openings. The date „1835” is located on the narthex door’s lintel.

In the interior, there are log cupolas over the nave and chancel: quadrangular with one recess over the nave, octagonal with a tholobate over the chancel. The narthex is covered with a beamed ceiling (initially, the chancel and narthex were covered with gable log vaults). The cupola over the nave is reinforced by two-level system of tension ties, choked by brackets on the outside. Paintings from the first half of the 17th century have been partially preserved on the eastern wall of the nave, while fragments of paintings from the third quarter of the 19th century have survived in the nave’s cupola and in the chancel. An iconostasis from the first half of the 18th century, including icons from the 17th-18th century and an altarpiece behind the iconostasis, designed in the late 18th century deserve attention as examples of original tserkva equipment.

The feature is available for viewing from the outside; viewing of the church interior is possible by prior telephone arrangement.

compiled by Ryszard Kwolek, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Rzeszow, 09-10-2014.


  • Giemza J., Polichromia przegrody ikonostasowej cerkwi w Gorajcu, Łańcut 1994, mps w Archiwum WZOZ w Przemyślu
  • Giemza J., Polichromie ścienne w drewnianych cerkwiach Nadsania, Informator Regionalny. Malarstwo monumentalne Polski południowo-wschodniej, Rzeszów 1995, s. 71-76
  • Giemza J., Malowidła ścienne jako element wystroju drewnianych cerkwi w XVIII wieku, [w:] Sztuka diecezji przemyskiej. Materiały z międzynarodowej konferencji naukowej 19-25 czerwca 1995 roku, Łańcut 1999
  • Mazur J., Drewniane cerkwie Złotego Wieku, „Monument”, nr 2, 2005
  • Zawałeń E., Drewniana cerkiew p.w. Narodzenia Przenajświętszej Bogurodzicy w Gorajcu koło Lubaczowa, [w:] „Rzeszowska Teka Konserwatorska”, t. II, 2000
  • Zawałeń E., Wieś Gorajec - wybrane karty z jej historii i sztuki cerkiewnej, „Peremyśki Dzwony”, R. III, 1994, nr 1

Category: tserkva

Building material:  drewniane

Protection: Register of monuments, Monuments records

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_18_BK.11618, PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_E_18_BK.196871