Bell tower accompanying the parish tserkva of St Michael the Archangel, Orla
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Bell tower accompanying the parish tserkva of St Michael the Archangel



One of the few surviving three-storey wooden bell towers in the Podlasie region. Its structure exhibits features typical of the buildings of its kind, with the bottom storey being made of wooden logs, while the upper storeys feature a post-and-beam structure. The building maintains the long-standing traditions of vernacular wooden architecture.


The Orthodox parish in Orla is known to have existed back in the early 16th century; at first, it bore the name of St Simeon Stylites. In the first half of the 17th century, the parish adopted the Union of Brest, although in 1839 it became an Orthodox parish once again. The existing bell tower was erected in 1872, replacing an older structure which was likewise made of wood. Initially, the building was a two-storey structure. In 1915, the nine bells from the bell tower were removed and transported away into the Moscow artillery works. Five of them have survived, however, and were restored to their original location in the 1920s. In 1932, a lightning strike led to one of the structural posts catching fire, which was, luckily, quickly extinguished. In 1935, the building was extended upwards by a single storey, while both the roof truss and cladding were replaced. All these works - culminating in the installation of a new, large bell - were performed by Grzegorz Zajączkowski, a local carpenter. In 1938, the bell tower received a new weatherboard cladding; the window and door joinery was likewise replaced. The uppermost storey of the bell tower was destroyed during World War II. The damage was repaired in 1949, with a comprehensive restoration taking place in 1956. In 1983, the sheet metal cladding of the roof was replaced.


The bell tower is situated on Kleszczelewska street, west of the tserkva, in the north-western corner of the cemetery which surrounds it. The overall style of the bell tower can be described as vernacular.

The bell tower is built on a square plan, has three storeys and is covered with a hip roof crowned with a bulbous cupola perched atop a low shaft. The upper storeys of the bell tower have a smaller footprint than the ground-floor level, lending the entire structure a tapering appearance.

The bell tower is made of wood, with the lowermost storey featuring a log structure, whereas the upper storeys are post-and-beam structures. The entire building rests upon stone foundations. The walls are covered with vertical board and batten siding. Both the main roof, the narrow skirt roofs at the base of individual storeys and the bulbous cupola on top are clad with galvanised steel panels. The window and door joinery is made of wood; the casement windows come in various shapes and sizes and are divided into small panels. The single-leaf door is covered with wooden boards arranged in the shape of a rhombus. The bell tower features wooden floors and ceilings.

The façades all follow a single-axial layout, with the entrance in the southern wall being protected by a small rooflet of the gable type. Profiled cornices run beneath the eaves of the skirt roofs between the individual storeys as well as of the pyramid-shaped roof at the top. The uppermost storey features four square bell openings protected by wooden shutters.

The building can be viewed from the outside.

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


  • Sosna G., Troc-Sosna A., Cerkiewna własność ziemska na Białostocczyźnie w XV-XX wieku, Białystok 2004, pp. 282-288.
  • Sosna G., Fionik D., Orla na Podlasiu. Dzieje Cerkwi, miasta i okolic, Bielsk Podlaski - Ryboły - Białystok 1997, pp. 113, 119, 122, 125, 126.

General information

  • Type: belfry
  • Chronology: 1872 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kleszczelewska , Orla
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district bielski, commune Orla
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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