Part Two





The Hutsul type of church is built on an east-west axis in the form of a cross. It consists of five connected rooms of which the central one dominates. This central room slopes upward to form an octagon which is covered by an eight sided conical roof.

The epitome of Hutsul architecture is the Ascension of Our Lord church in Yasinya, Transcarpathia. The church has a square center to which are connected four sides which resemble a tetragon. Each of the four rooms is bound to the central room by a sloping shingled roof than runs around the entire structure. A low octagon has been placed on the tetragon which turns into a pyramid shaped roof with a small cupola. The rectangular wings of the church are two storied and are covered with ridged roofs to form gables; on top of each gable is a small cupola. The church is also surrounded by an overhanging roof which serves to protect both the building and churchgoers.




Yasinia, Ascension of Our Lord, 1824


Hutsul churches tend to have two entrances - one on the western side, the other on the southern side. It was customary for women to enter the western side while the men entered via the southern side.




Lazeshchyna, side view




Lazeshchyna, front view




Verkhnyj Studeny, front view




Verkhnyj Studeny, back view


Bell tower for the church Verkhnyj Studeny


Hrabova Roztoka

Hrabova Roztoka, St. Basil The Great, middle of the 18th century



Boyko structures consist of a three room church, i.e. a tripartite design which symbolizes the Holy Trinity. These three log rooms are situated along an east-west direction. The central room or nave is the largest and is also topped by the largest dome. To the east is the sanctuary while to the west is found the narthex or babinec (where the women or babas sat). The western and eastern log rooms are of the same size and topped with similar domes. These churches also have a wide overhang or porch encircling the babinec and narthex. The porches are covered to match the roof system with notched shingles or sheathing (Transcarpathia). Many of the porches are supported by carved posts. The porches provide shelter for those when the church is filled to overflowing. Normally in Boyko churches, there is a lack of uniformity in the towers, i.e., there is no central dominating cupola. Churches which exhibit Boyko architecture can be seen in the villages of Vyska, Husny and Kostryno. However, the Boyko church in Uzok diverges from the three identical towers. The middle tower is thicker and higher than the other two; the Boyko church in Nižny Komarnik, Slovakia, also has its highest tower located in the middle. Its hexagonal domes are trimmed in yellow and russet. On top of these domes one sees an unusual sight - three octagonal cupolas topped with iron crosses. The church from Zboj, now located in the Bardejovske Kupele is also typical of Boyko architecture. Built in 1706, its logs and shingles are not stained and its polygonal sanctuary is more typical of Boyko architecture in Transcarpathia. Villages in Poland which have excellent examples of Boyko architecture include Bystre, Certez and Smolnik. The Boyko churches in Smolnik and Turzansk are both UNESCO Heritage Sites.  




Nižny Komarnik, Mother of God, 1938








Church of St. Michael the Archangel
built in 1902, village of Bystre



Even though the church in Bystre is not in use (note the broken windows) and in disrepair, it is still a magnificent structure




Fine examples of Boyko architecture include the church of St. Michael (built in 1791) in Smolnik which was built on the site of an older structure from 1601; St. Michael the Archangel Church in Bystre built in 1902 although not in use at the present (notice the broken windows) is still a beautiful architectural edifice; in Certez, the recently restored church of The Transfiguration of Our Lord was built in 1742. It also possesses a beautiful wooden bell tower.




The church of St. Michael the Archangel 1791
from the village of Smolnik





The church was built on the site of an older structure from 1601






Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord 1742
from the village of Certez




Another view of the recently restored church in Certez




Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord
possesses a beautiful wooden bell tower





Vyska, St Michael the Archangel, 1700

Vyska 2001 - notice that the western tower has not been
tinned - only the back two





The Boyko church in Vyska has been destroyed
by putting the tin on (2009)






Vyska 2009 all the towers
and roofs are covered





Uyok, 1745


Užok, St Michael the Archangel, 1745


Uyok, door lock


Užok door lock, handmade features on the church



Kostryno, 1645


Kostryno, Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1645

UNESCO put small solar panels on the front of the church for electricity into the church



Kostryno, another side view


Kostryno, another side view







Banica, Sts Cosmos and Damian, 1787




While most historians or anthropologists feel that the Lemko church evolved from the Boyko style, Brykowski feels that recent work in Poland suggests that the Lemko style of architecture is older than the Boyko. It predominates in northeastern Slovakia and southeastern Poland (Lemkovyna). It retains a tripartite plan; each section has a separate roof which is usually topped with Baroque turrets and cupolas or sometimes a Boyko style pyramidal roof. Possibly due to the influence of Gothic western architecture, it exhibits a dominating tower over the western end while the middle and eastern towers are lower in height than the preceding tower. The area below the main tower is considered to be the babinec which is connected to the nave followed by the sanctuary on the eastern end. The east-west axis is maintained. Each section of the church consists of the usual log rooms, although the eastern wall of the sanctuary may have a polygonal structure.



Pryslop, St Michael, 1756





Shelestovo, St Michael, 18 th century
(in Užhorod skansen)




Shelestovo, iconostasis

Inside of the Shelestovo church, iconostasis



The main tower can be connected to the church in two other ways. One method involves building the tower directly on the western log room or building the tower apart from the church, i.e., in front of it. The tower tapers off, although, in some churches, a "room" is found on the second floor. This area is either empty or used for storage of church artifacts. One gains access to this room by a hand crafted wooden ladder. Due to the Baroque influence, each of the three towers may be topped by a miniature cupola with a metal cross or an onion-like spire with an attached metal cross.

A beautiful example of a Lemko style church in Transcarpathia is the church of St. Michael the Archangel, built in the 18th century in the village of Shelestovo and now located in the skansen in Uzhorod. The church has the large central nave with the sanctuary located on the eastern end, however, the tower replaces the western room. It is still considered a room, even though it is built independently of the main structure.

The tower is integrated with the rest of the church by the usual deep, shingled roof which encloses the entire building. The Baroque influence is readily noticed in the tower construction. It has an open gallery on which is built a pyramidal structure above which is found a cupola. All of the cupolas on the three towers as well as the entire roof are covered with wooden shingles. The church also contains an arcaded porch supported by carved posts.


Svaliava-Bystry, the church of St. Nicholas
(1588, later restored in 1759)


Other view


Svaliava-Bystry, the church of St. Nicholas (other side); before
restoration of bell tower



Restored bell tower. Villagers put logs around the bell tower


Svaliava-Bystry, porch


Example of arcaded porch with exquisitely carved posts and supports



The church of St. Nicholas in Svaliava-Bystra originally built in 1588, later restored in 1759 is one of the few Lemko churches in Transcarpathia resembling those found in northeast Slovakia. It's arcaded porch with exquisitely carved posts and supports demonstrates the craftsmanship of the individuals who built it. The eastern room of this church is polygonal in design. The design of this particular church reflects its symmetry and harmony with its surroundings and continues to draw me back to photograph it.



Roztoka, 1759 year


Roztoka, Sacrifice of the Virgin, 1759, side view






Roztoka, Sacrifice of the Virgin, 1759,




Roztoka bell tower


Roztoka, bell tower





Chornoholova, St Nicholas, 1794




Chornoholova, back view



Baroque architecture is prevalent throughout the Boyko villages of Transcarpathia. This was due to the intense latinization efforts by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Wooden basilica type churches with Baroque towers are very common. Roztoka and Chornoholova are excellent examples of this style. Moreover, Roztoka possesses the only wooden Boyko bell tower in Transcarpathia. In fact, it was not unusual for the architecture to change from one style to another. Ruska Kuchava, which is a Lemko village, had its Baroque tower blown off in a storm and was renovated in a totally different style. Vysna had its church transferred from Boyko to Lemko elements while Likitsary was altered from Lemko to Boyko, and Chornoholava and Izky were altered from Boyko to Baroque.



Mirol'a, Mother of God, 1770





Mirol'a, Mother of God, 1770





Prikra, St. Michael the Archangel, 1777 (after restoration)




Royal Doors

Prikra, Royal doors




Bukotsiova, St. Ann, built in 17th century, rebuilt 1793


I had that Vyska was originally Lemko and is now totally Boyko.

The Lemko churches in Slovakia exhibit a variation in the roof structure. Those located in the northern tier tend to have multiple hipped roofs and towers while those along the eastern border closer to Ukraine tend to have a hipped shingled roof with two towers, even though they maintain the three part log structure. Churches which exhibit this simpler roof structure include Uličske Krive, Rusky Potok, Rusky Bystra, Topol'a, Inovce and Hrabova Roztoka.




Church of Archangel Michael (1836) in village
of Inovce, example of shingled hipped roof




Inovce, other side of the church





Churches in Bodružal, Dobroslava, Jedlinka, Korejovce, Kožany, Kožechovce, Ladomirova, Lukov, Mirol'a, Prikra and Potoky tend to have the typical Lemko structure of a dominating western tower with decreasing middle and eastern towers. An unusual church is that which is found in Kalna Roztoka. It is the only whitewashed Lemko wooden church. The wooden building was covered with lath and mud and then whitewashed. It also has the shingled roof with two towers. The church in Dobroslava was enlarged in 1932 with the addition of two side chapels so that its ground plan now resembles a cross rather than that of its original Lemko architecture. The church in Korejovce has two of its three sections covered with unusual tented roofs topped with small onion spires and decorative crosses.




The church St. Basil the Great in Kalna Roztoka built at the end of the 18th century,

rebuilt 1839, only whitewashed Lemko wooden church





The church St. Basil the Great in Kalna Roztoka, gate to the church yard




Church has been totally restored

Front view of the church oooo
Back view of the church




Kalna Roztoka inside, royal doors




Beauty of icons







Owchary, Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
as typical examples of Lemko architecture




All photos are the property of the author. Any publication of them for commercial purposes is prohibited. Any other use requires written permission from the author.



Title of the page





Wooden Churches
Of The Rusyns III

art Three






Wooden Churches
Of The Rusyns I

Part One