Uniate parish tserkva, currently serving as the Orthodox tserkva of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Topolany
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Uniate parish tserkva, currently serving as the Orthodox tserkva of the Transfiguration of Our Lord

Topolany

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With its deceptively simple outline and the absence of any features indicative of a specific architectural style, the tserkva would have been unremarkable save for the fact that it has survived in an almost unchanged condition, the only visible change being the addition of a bell tower. Today, it forms an example of a typical Uniate church from the area located along the boundary between Podlasie and the Grodno region.

History

The origins of the parish in Topolany remain shrouded in mystery, although it is believed that the tserkva may have existed here as early as the 17th century. It was only in the 18th century that it became a Uniate church. The existing structure is believed to have been constructed before 1769; it was during that year that bishop Jerzy Bułhak died, with his antimis (a type of altarpiece cloth) being later placed inside the tserkva. The funds for the construction of the church were provided by the Radziwiłł noble family. During the inspections carried out in 1773 and 1804, the tserkva was described as being fit for renovation. It is believed that the restoration of the church took place in the 19th century, when the small bell tower jutting above the porch was also added. The parish in Topolany was ultimately abolished in 1835, with the church being incorporated into the parish in Potoka. In 1856, the parish was reconstituted as an Orthodox one, yet after World War I it faced dissolution once again. In 1940, the parish was re-established.

Description

The tserkva is located in the western part of the village, on a spindle-shaped square; it is surrounded by a cemetery circumscribed with a perimeter wall. The church is oriented towards the east. The overall style of the tserkva can be described as vernacular.

The building follows a tripartite layout. It consists of a rectangular nave, a semi-decagonal chancel with a small northern sacristy and a rectangular porch topped with a slender bell tower. The nave and the chancel are covered with a roof with a common ridge; the roof above the nave is of the gable type, with a five-sided roof used for the chancel section, topped with a small cupola. The sacristy is covered with a shed roof, while the porch features a three-sided roof with a jutting octagonal turret crowned with a pyramid-shaped roof surmounted by a small cupola, with a profiled cornice running beneath the eaves. The entrance is preceded by a gable rooflet supported by a pair of pillars.

The church is a wooden log structure, with the uppermost storey of the bell tower featuring a post-and-beam structure instead. The entire church rests upon brick foundations. The roofs are covered with sheet metal. The walls are covered with vertically positioned weatherboards, their structure reinforced with vertical supports. The window openings are rectangular in shape, with the windows themselves divided into a large number of small, rectangular panes. The bell openings are topped with semicircular arches, with the spaces above the transom bars featuring a star-shaped muntin bar arrangement. The windows and doors are made of wood. The church features wooden floors and ceilings.

The interior is a single, open space with a flat ceiling. The chancel is separated from the rest of the interior by the iconostasis. The choir gallery above the entrance features a wooden openwork balustrade.

The fixtures and fittings include a 19th-century iconostasis.

The historical monument is open to visitors.

compiled by Grażyna Rogala, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 23-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Księga wizyty dziekańskiej dekanatu podlaskiego przeze mnie księdza BAzylego Benedykta Guttorskiego dziekana podlaskiego, plebana golniewskiego w roku 1773 miesiąca Novembra dnia 17 iuxta vetus kalendarza sporządzona, prepared by J. MAroszek, W. F. Wilczewski, Białystok 1996, pp. 118-130.
  • Maroszek J., Dziedzictwo unii kościelnej w krajobrazie kulturowym Podlasia 1596-1996, Białystok 1996, pp. 29, 41.
  • Nos L., Monografia gminy Michałowo, Białystok 1996, pp. 187-189.
  • Sosna G., Troc-Sosna A., Cerkiewna własność ziemska na Białostocczyźnie w XV-XX wieku, Białystok 2004, pp. 696-697.
  • http://www.przegladprawoslawny.pl/articles.php?id_n=3209&id=8

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: poł. XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Topolany
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district białostocki, commune Michałowo - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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