Wooden Churches of Malapolska
I visited this WHS in September 2014. I visited 5 out of the 9 wooden churches of Southern Malapolska and managed to enter 4 of them to see the frescoes and paintings. I combined this WHS with the Wooden Tserkvas of Poland and I dedicated a full day driving from one wooden church/tserkva to the next. In a way they reminded me of a similar “treasure hunt” experience I had when visiting the churches in Val de Boi, Spain. I really enjoyed myself but I managed to visit so many churches only because I had done my homework beforehand. First of all I searched the churches/tserkvas on Google Maps to get an idea of their location. This helped me to decide on a logical order to visit the churches. Next, I entered their exact location (longitude/latitude) on my GPS which turned out to be a very wise idea as most of the wooden churches are well hidden behind tall trees and signs were non-existant. I got this information from http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2002/noms/1053.pdf. Then I wrote down Poland’s telephone code (0048) as I knew I would be needing it to be able to call the church keyholders once I got there. The first wooden church I visited was the one in Lachowice which is quite similar to the other 2 churches I visited in Lipnica Murowana and Sekowa. The former church was closed and the keyholder was nowhere to be seen or reached by mobile phone. I was luckier with the other 2 churches and after calling the keyholder (their number is affixed on the church door), somebody turned up to open the church and switch on the lights. Most of the keyholders didn’t speak English and only some of them spoke some German but they will gladly give you laminated information sheets inside. All the churches I visited were free although I had read that sometimes a small amount is charged to visit the church in Lipnica Murowana. These 3 churches are quite similar. They are built using the horizontal log technique (like all these inscribed churches), however their peculiarity lies in the steep roofs reaching close to the ground. The other 2 churches I visited didn’t have this peculiarity and they had a different shape altogether. The church in Lipnica Murowana is the oldest inscribed wooden church and it houses the UNESCO WHS certificate inside. The interior wooden paintings are worth viewing and just behind the altarpiece there is a replica of the Pillar of Światowid, the only “remains” of an ancient pagan worship site on which this church was built. The original can be found in the Tarnów Diocese Museum. The church in Sekowa is the largest inscribed wooden church. The interior can be viewed through a barred iron gate or else just call the keyholder who will gladly open the door for a quick peek. The interior is not as interesting as the one in Lipnica Murowana. The next church I visited was the one in Binarowa (picture) and its peculiarity is the tower-like shape (similar to other inscribed wooden churches I didn’t visit). The last church I visited is the one in Szalowa. It doesn’t have any of the mentioned peculiarities and instead it has quite a conventional squarish architecture. There was mass going on when I visited so I couldn’t spot anything of extraordinary interest inside. Most of these churches are too small for the present communities so some of them have rows of benches just in front of the main entrance so that everyone can be seated even if there isn’t enough space inside the church. I wouldn’t mind visiting the remaining inscribed wooden churches in the future although from what I read and saw, the most representative seems to be the one in Lipnica Murowana.
Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland – Poland