Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wooden Churches of the Carpathian Mountains #1 - Ladomirová, Slovakia

I have a particular interest in the wooden folk architecture of the Carpathian mountains, especially the Rusyn wooden churches found in Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, and Romania. Each of these churches is architecturally unique, and distinct regional styles can vary enormously, from the three-steepled Lemko and Boyko churches of the northern part of the range in Poland and Slovakia, to the tall shingled steeples of Maramures region in Romania. I've visited almost 40 of these churches, including some from all four countries.
I will put up photos and a description of some of the most unique ones, so I'm starting today with the church in the village of Ladomirová, Slovakia, which is pictured here. The Greek Orthodox Ladomirová church is a typical example of the Lemko style, with the three steeples arranged from highest to lowest with the highest closest to the door. The church was built in 1742, and endured significant damage during World War 2, as the nearby Dukla Pass was the scene of heavy fighting. Russian soldiers reportedly slept on the floor of the church during the conflict, and were given food by the local villagers. The key to the church is available from the family who live in the house immediately in front of the church; I was given a tour by a wonderful old woman who was full of stories and memories of the village as it changed through the course of the 20th century (This conversation was in Slovak, having someone with you who can translate her stories would add much to the experience). The iconostasis wall inside the church has many of the usual hallmarks of Lemko churches, including an image of the Last Supper beneath the image of Christ the Pantocrator. The village of Ladomirová is located 6 kilometres north of the town of Svidník, and there are several buses a day that run to the village from Svidník.


  1. Great photos! This church looks quite different than the wooden ones in Maramures and Western Ukraine

  2. This style is quite different from the churches of Maramures or the region of Ukraine that borders Romania, but it is very similar to the churches found in villages north of Uzgorod and south of Lviv. There is a gradual change in building design as you move along the mountain range, so that some of the churches east of Mukachevo in Ukraine have a clear mixture of some of the design features from the Maramures style as well as some of the features of the Lemko/Boyko style from further north in Slovakia and Poland. I recommend the website for information (available in English) on the wooden churches of Ukraine, it has a superb collection of photographs.