Bell tower, currently serving as the filial chapel of St Nicholas the Wonderworker, Kleszczele
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Bell tower, currently serving as the filial chapel of St Nicholas the Wonderworker



The structure is one of the few well-preserved examples of traditional tserkva architecture from the 18th century, presenting a significant artistic value and having a most intriguing history due to the multitude of functions which it performed over the years, namely that of a bell tower, tserkva and chapel.


The building was originally erected as a bell tower accompanying the tserkva of St Nicholas shortly before 1784. A Greek Catholic parish of St Nicholas was known to have existed here as early as 1560. Once the parish church was demolished in the 19th century, the bell tower began to serve as a tserkva, with a makeshift chancel and interior galleries being added for this purpose. Initially only the lower part of the bell tower was clad with weatherboards, with the upper section comprising an arrangement of four bell openings, their arches consisting of wooden braces. After 1930, however, the corner arches were replaced with infills made of short sections of wooden logs, with the remaining bell openings being replaced with windows. In 1980, the building’s roofs received a new wood shingle cladding.


The structure is located in the middle of the town, on the eastern side of the main road (national road no. 66). The bell tower forms part of the western section of the wall surrounding the site of the tserkva. The chapel, designed on a square floor plan, is a two-storey structure, its upper storey being markedly narrower than the lower one; it is topped with a tented roof surmounted by an iron Orthodox cross. A small annex designed as a space for the priests adjoins the eastern side of the tower. The chapel is a wooden building combining elements of log structure (lower level) and post-and-beam structure (upper level), positioned on brick and stone foundations. The roofs of the building are clad with wood shingles. On the upper storey, the former bell openings are now replaced with four windows on each side, featuring semi-hexagonal top sections. The same theme is carried over to the main entrance, the top section of which is likewise semi-hexagonal in shape.

The historical building is open to visitors.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 08-10-2014.


  • Keczyński E. and A., Drewniane cerkwie Białostocczyzny, Białystok - Białowieża (1998) 1999, catalogue no. 26.
  • Record sheet, Kleszczele. Dzwonnica-cerkiewka p.w. św. Mikołaja, prepared by Kornecki M., Cracow 1978, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Białystok.

General information

  • Type: chapel
  • Chronology: l. 80. XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: 1 Maja 2, Kleszczele
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district hajnowski, commune Kleszczele - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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