Orthodox parish tserkva of St Barbara, Milejczyce
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Orthodox parish tserkva of St Barbara

Milejczyce

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A tserkva of the so-called Russian type, exhibiting a style which gained popularity in the Podlasie region in the second half of the 19th century. Its distinguishing features are the presence of several distinct sections which comprise the tserkva: the chancel, the nave and the vestibule with a bell tower. The decorative flourishes usually present in tserkvas of this kind were the diverse arrangements of weatherboards as well as fretwork decorations of various kinds.

History

The Orthodox parish of St Barbara in Milejczyce is known to have existed from the early 16th century onwards. In the 17th and 18th century, the parish adopted the Greek Catholic (Uniate) confession; it was only after 1839 that it returned to Orthodoxy. The successive tserkvas in Milejczyce were all wooden structures. Before the current tserkva was built, there was another building standing on the same site; it was lost to the blaze in 1859 when a devastating fire swept across the town. In 1865, all Orthodox church services were moved to the local Catholic church, which was converted into the tserkva of the Holy Spirit. The existing tserkva was erected in the years 1899-1900. In the course of the most recent renovation works which took place in the years 2013-2014, the roof cladding was replaced, as were the exterior weatherboards; unfortunately, their decorative arrangement was simplified in the process, while the wooden window headers that had once graced the façade were also removed.

Description

The tserkva is located in the middle of the village, on the northern side of the św. Barbary street. It is surrounded by a cemetery circumscribed with a metal fence. The tserkva is oriented towards the east. It represents the so-called Russian-Byzantine style.

The tserkva is a tripartite structure consisting of the nave, designed on a roughly square floor plan, the rectangular chancel with a pair of sacristies separated from the main chancel space by interior partitions as well as the vestibule with bell tower, its ground floor section divided into two sections - the eastern and the western one - with the western section containing two storerooms separated by interior partitions. The bell tower rising above the vestibule was designed on a quadrangular plan (two lower storeys), with the uppermost storey being octagonal in shape and crowned with an eight-sided roof with triangular gablets, surmounted by a bulbous cupola positioned atop a low shaft. The roof above the nave is of the pyramid type, with triangular gables rising above the side façades; it is surmounted by an octagonal lantern topped with a multi-pitched roof above which rises another bulbous cupola. The chancel features a three-sided roof, while the side annexes flanking the vestibule are covered with shed roofs. Polygonal pillars flank the bell openings on the uppermost storey of the bell tower.

The tserkva was built of wood as a log structure positioned atop a stone and concrete foundation, while the tower features a post-and-beam structure. The roofs are covered with galvanised sheet metal, with the cupola cladding designed to imitate gold. The walls are reinforced with wooden clamps and clad with horizontally positioned weatherboards, with the base of the tower featuring a vertical arrangement instead. The corners of the structure are likewise covered with wooden boards; profiled wooden cornices are also present. The small-pane windows are rectangular in shape. The tserkva also features wooden ceilings and floors.

The interior is divided into the altarpiece section (sanctuary) separated from the rest of the church by the iconostasis, the bipartite vestibule and the nave featuring a false domed ceiling, with the roof lantern above providing additional illumination.

The interior fixtures and fittings include a pair of iconostases - the main, eclectic iconostasis from ca. 1900 and the Renaissance Revival iconostasis from 1865, relocated from the local Catholic church which had once served as the tserkva of the Holy Spirit; in addition, there is also late 18th-century icon case and a number of 17th-century icons: the icon of St Barbara and St Nicholas in the main iconostasis as well as two icons of Christ Pantocrator from the 1st half of the 17th century and the icon of the Virgin Hodegetria. There is also a number of 18th-century icons, taken from the section of the old iconostasis where the images of the apostles were displayed.

The building is open to visitors.

compiled by Aneta Kułak, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 05-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XII, Województwo białostockie, issue 1, Siemiatycze, Drohiczyn i okolice, compiled by M. Kałamajska-Saeed, Warsaw 1996, pp. 40-41.
  • Keczyński E. and A., Drewniane cerkwie Białostocczyzny, Białystok - Białowieża (1998) 1999, catalogue no. 40.
  • Sosna G., Troc-Sosna A., Cerkiewna własność ziemska na Białostocczyźnie w XV-XX wieku, Białystok 2004, pp. 245-252.

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: 1899-1900
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Milejczyce
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district siemiatycki, commune Milejczyce
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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