The beauty preserved in wood

Some of the most interesting and important reflections of the past in Slovakia can also be seen in its sacral architecture. In addition to the many fine examples in towns, anyone will be enchanted by the picturesque wooden churches mostly found throughout rural Eastern Slovakia. Simply because the wooden churches in Slovak part of Carpathians are unique sacral treasures.

Slovakia has a heart of wood. Approximately 60 surviving wooden churches can hardly be considered as merely ordinary. Some are more than 500 years old. The oldest is the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Hervartov from the 15th century, with its stunning Gothic icons and wall murals.

The preserved condition and uniqueness of these monuments, surrounded by the astounding Slovak environment, guarantees an unforgettable experience for visitors.

Explore the unique wooden churches of the Carpathian arc. They were built solely from wood, with not a  single metal nail used in their construction. Their stunning interiors and chapel decorations are also made of wood, further emphasising the uniqueness of these rare buildings.

In 2008, wooden churches of the Slovak part of Carpathian Mountain Area were inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Acknowledgement of the exceptional value of the wooden sacred architecture in Slovakia definitely located the country on the cultural world map.

Wooden churches of the Slovak part of Carpathian Mountain Area possess an extraordinary worldwide value. The churches include Roman Catholic churches in Hervartov and Tvrdošín, Evangelical articular churches in Kežmarok, Leštiny and Hronsek, and churches of Eastern rite in Bodružal, Ladomirová and Ruská Bystrá.

When Google Street View started to feature the wooden church in Kežmarok, which is on the UNESCO Heritage List, Google even added the church to its wonders of the world, as part of the World Wonders project.

Originally constructed exclusively from wood, the genius loci of Slovakia's wooden churches also lies in their human dimension. Those who admire the rich Slovak lore and want to discover more, should explore these wooden treasures of ours that cannot be found anywhere else. The atmosphere of the little wooden churches consist in their specific architectural design.

Among the oldest are the Gothic wooden churches. The "articled" churches are other type of wooden churches. The "articled" churches are those built under the article of the law issued by Emperor Leopold I at the end of the 17th century. There is also a third type of wooden churches built in eastern Slovakia, mostly in the 18th century. First they were owned by the Greek Catholic denomination, later some of them were changed into Orthodox churches.

To date, over 40 wooden churches, mainly Greek Catholic, have been preserved in eastern part of Slovakia. Their origins mainly go back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Each of these churches is original and unique.

Their worldwide value is highlighted by the inclusion of eight wooden churches from the Slovak part of the Carpathian arc in the UNESCO list.

The mini open-air museum of wooden churches in the grounds of the Basilica minor pilgrimage site in Ľutina presents in one place all 41 wooden churches in the Prešov region together with a few churches from the Polish border region. In Ľutina, you can see exact replicas of the originals at a scale of 1:10. Next to each church, there are also information panels with its description and brief history.

Located mostly in northern and eastern Slovakia, Carpathian wooden churches are unique structures. Get to know Slovakia through its precious still-standing wooden churches.

These churches, many of which are World Heritage Sites, also have remarkable atmosphere and can even inspire your most romantic decision.

Author: Marián Ondrišík