Uniate tserkva, currently serving as the Orthodox tserkva of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mielnik
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Uniate tserkva, currently serving as the Orthodox tserkva of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mielnik

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One of the few Classicist tserkvas in the Podlasie region. Despite the subsequent alteration works, the tserkva retains its original interior décor as well as the architectural partitions which define the appearance of its façade. It is also a tangible trace of the turbulent religious history of these territories, having been originally conceived as a Uniate tserkva and then taken over by the Orthodox Church, whereupon it was redesigned in the Russian-Byzantine style.

History

The Orthodox tserkva of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Mielnik was first mentioned in 1551, although these references clearly point towards an earlier, wooden structure. In 1646 - or perhaps earlier - the erstwhile building became a Uniate tserkva. The wooden tserkvas which stood on this site are known to have been destroyed by fire both in 1614 and in 1656. The existing masonry structure, initially designed in the Classicist style, was erected in the years 1821-1823. In 1839, following the dissolution of the Union of Brest, the building was converted into an Orthodox tserkva. In the years 1907-1910, it was redesigned in the Russian-Byzantine style, with a vestibule with tower and a porch being added; the chancel was now graced by an ensemble of five bulbous cupolas. The renovation works performed in 1985 have resulted in the partial obliteration of the distinctive stylistic features of the main body, which was now covered with a flat, two-dimensional plaster finish; originally, the façades featured exposed split stone surfaces as well as decorative plaster framing relying on the use of faux pilasters.

Description

The tserkva is located in the western part of the town, on the southern side of Brzeska street, on a hill located near the Castle Mountain, west of Cerkiewna street. The Classicist tserkva is oriented towards the east, its western section bearing the hallmarks of the Russian-Byzantine style. It was erected on a rectangular floor plan, its semi-hexagonal end section containing the altarpiece being integrated with the main body of the church. The slightly narrower vestibule with tower, preceded by a rectangular porch, adjoins the western side of the main body. The three-bay front façade features a tower designed on a square plan and adorned with an arcaded frieze; above the frieze rises an octagonal upper section with triangular gablets and four large apertures topped with semi-circular arches. The entire tower is crowned with a slender, octagonal spire. A porch with an archivolt portal topped with a semi-circular arch is positioned on the middle axis of the front façade. An ensemble of five small turrets topped with bulbous cupolas rises above the middle section of the main body of the tserkva. The tserkva is made of brick and field stone, its walls covered with plaster. The roofs feature a sheet metal cladding. The segment-headed windows feature splayed reveals; the windows of the vestibule are narrow and fully rectangular in shape, with a pair of circular oculi piercing the western wall of the tower just above the roof of the porch. Inside, the main nave and the side aisles are divided by rows of wooden Tuscan columns. The wide main nave features a false barrel vault, with flat ceilings used for the side aisles and the altarpiece section. Dropped, flat ceilings are also present in the vestibule and the porch. The fixtures and fittings of the tserkva include the miraculous icon of The Virgin Orans, believed to originate from the late 18th or early 19th century.

The building is open to visitors.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 28-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XII, Województwo białostockie, issue 1, Siemiatycze, Drohiczyn i okolice, compiled by Kałamajska-Saeed M., Warsaw 1996, pp. 36-37.
  • http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerkiew_Narodzenia_Naj%C5%9Bwi%C4%99tszej_Maryi_Panny_w_Mielniku
  • Sosna G., Święte miejsca i cudowne ikony, Białystok 2001, pp. 202-206.

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: 1821-1823
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Mielnik
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district siemiatycki, commune Mielnik
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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