Radruż – Orthodox Church complex, Radruż
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Radruż – Orthodox Church complex

Radruż

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The value of the monument

The St. Parascheva Orthodox Church complex in Radruż distinguishes itself through its exceptional qualities as an important material testimony to the artistic traditions of the Eastern Churches in the lands of the Commonwealth. The Orthodox Church, which was probably built at the end of the sixteenth century or in the first half of the seventeenth century, is one of the oldest wooden temples of the Eastern Rite preserved in Poland. Despite the reconstruction in the eighteenth century, probably resulting from the evolution of the liturgical rite, it has a high quality of authenticity, and thus a high typological value as a link in the development of wooden Orthodox Church architecture.

The temple is a priceless example of individual solutions that present local attempt to reproduce the features of brick churches. It is an outstanding work of this type with a four-sided cupola above the nave. Among the sacred buildings of the time, it stands out due to the unique construction of this dome, the richness of architectural detail and the highest level of workmanship. Undoubtedly, it is the product of a professional carpentry workshop originating from urban, guild construction traditions, using the woodworking know-how of the late Western Gothic Church.

The interior design and furnishing are also unique. It includes valuable seventeenth-century figural-ornamental polychrome attributed to painters originating from the painting centre in Potylice, as well as the architectural iconostasis with 58 icons - some of them signed - from the seventeenth-eighteenth centuries. Exceptional orthodox church painting from that time are rare in Poland, and painting works attributed to Potylice centre have been considered by the researchers as some of the most interesting achievements in the art of the Eastern Church on the Polish-Russian borderland.

The complex, picturesquely composed into the surrounding landscape, is one of the few that has an original fully-bricked fence system with gates and a mortuary, so-called the home of the diak (cantor), as well as the wooden bell tower with a unique structure, preserved in an unaltered state. Located in its immediate vicinity two nineteenth-century parish cemeteries, on which there are several hundred objects of folk sepulchral art, coming from the so-called Brusno stonemasonry centre, constitute a natural complement to the historical, cultural and landscape attributes of the church.

Confirmation of the unique universal value of the church in Radruż was the listing of the object - as part of the serial entry of the Wooden Orthodox churches in the Polish and Ukrainian Carpathian region - in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013.

History

Radruż belongs to the oldest settlements near Lubaczów area; it is mentioned in sources as early as in 1444. The first certain information about the parish and the Radruż Orthodox Church comes from the conscripts register of 1531. There the temple was mentioned as deserted, perhaps as a result of the Tatar invasion of 1524. The lack of other original sources does not allow for a clear determination whether the then Orthodox church was the first or a consecutive one, and there is no agreement among the researches regarding the time of the creation of the current structure. The vast majority are inclined to dating it to the end of the sixteenth century or the first half of the seventeenth century. Some authors, on the basis of a document found between the planks of the church, recon that the temple was built in 1583. The scarce source material results in the latest dating assumptions derive primarily from the analysis of material, construction, architectural elements, furnishing and decor. A very important proof of the time of the church's construction is the polychrome preserved on the eastern wall of the nave, dated back to 1648. Comparative research, carried out mainly by J. Mazur, tied the site to a group of sixteenth-century temples of the Eastern Uplands (Roztocze Wschodnie).

In the third quarter of the eighteenth century, the church was renovated, probably connected with a partial reconstruction. The belfry over the women's porch was dismantled, the arcades were rebuilt, and a bell tower was erected. Approximately in 1825, the wooden fence surrounding the church complex was replaced with a stone wall and the bell tower was renovated. In the years 1832-1845, the church underwent general renovation. Probably at the beginning of the twentieth century, some of the roofs of the church were padded with sheet metal. In 1927, the liturgical openings in the iconostasis were remade and minor repairs were carried out (among others, shingles were replaced and sheet metal was put on the part of the church's roof). At the end of the interwar period, the temple was in good condition. After the deportation of the local population in 1945-1947, the church remained unattended for several years. In the years 1964-1966, the temple and all other elements of the complex were subjected to major overhaul. Since 2010, the Orthodox Church complex in Radruż is owned by the Museum of the Borderlands in Lubaczów.

The complex also includes a morgue (the so-called diak's (cantor’s) house) from the second half of the nineteenth century and two parish cemeteries from the nineteenth century.

Description

The Orthodox Church complex is located in the middle part of the village, on a small, oval elevation. The church is located in the central part of the project. At a short distance to the northwest of the temple there is a freestanding bell tower. In the churchyard there are several tombstones associated probably with the beginnings of the activities of the Brusno stonemasonry centre. The whole is surrounded by a stone wall. Within the wall, on the eastern and western side, there are two gates leading to the parish cemeteries. A brick mortuary building (the so-called Diak's (Cantor’s) House) adjoins the eastern gate.

The wooden Orthodox Church is built as a log house, in a three-part arrangement, on a longitudinal plan, with square plans of the main sections: the women’s quarter, the nave and the sanctuary. The object is set on a broken limestone foundation and an oak sill plate. The log structure of the walls is made of fir timber. Planks from the third to the fifth rim are protruding in the form of profiled extensions. The interior is dominated by a nave, covered with a four-sided, broken, log-shaped dome topped with a circular pseudo-lamp post, covered with a conical roof. The Orthodox Church is rounded by open arcades of pole construction, supported by log extensions and a system of columns stiffened with slanting planks. The log structure of the walls below the roof of arcades is exposed, above the church is wholly covered by shingles, except for the top of the women’s quarter covered with vertical boards. The sanctuary inside and the women's quarter are covered with gable log roof. Above the nave there is a four-sided log cupola with one crease, reinforced with an extended system of braces placed on two levels, tightened with slanting planks and braces, and stiffened from the outside with fasteners. Noteworthy are two portals with lintels cut in the form of a three-leaf arch.

In the nave and in the sanctuary figural-ornamental polychrome is preserved. In the nave, it covers the top part of the iconostasis along its entire width and the eastern part of the copula. The figural paintings were composed in three horizontal lines separated by ornamental friezes. They depict Old Testament prophets, biblical scenes, image of Edessa supported by a pair of angels and a frieze with cherubs against the starry sky. The painting in the sanctuary depicts three Church Fathers. The furnishing of the church includes complete architectural framed iconostasis with 58 icons by at least three painters: Zachariasz Tarnohorski from Niemirów, Ioan ‘citizen of Hrebeńsk’ and Andrei Wyszecki [Vyshensky] from Jaworów, as well as two eighteenth-century side altars.

The bell tower was erected as a free-standing, wooden, post-and-frame structure, on a square plan. A very rare and complicated solution was used, consisting in extending the supporting system of the building from four traditional pillars to nine. It is crowned with a suspended starling with an open gallery covered with a four-sided roof going into an eight-sided, creased cupola.

The fence wall is made of stone, with external buttresses, covered with shingled roof. The morgue building is made of brick, covered with four-sided shingled roof.

Several hundred tombstones have survived in the parish cemeteries, the majority of them having a folk character and made of local limestone.

 

Prepared by the National Heritage Board of Poland

General information

  • Type: ecclesiastical complex
  • Chronology: przełom XVI/XVII w.
  • Form of protection: Historical Monument
  • Address: Radruż
  • Location: Voivodeship podkarpackie, district lubaczowski, commune Horyniec-Zdrój
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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