A travel guide to all aspects of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, focusing on sights and destinations still considered to be off the main tourist trail in these two superb Slavic nations
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Wooden Churches # 17 - Nová Polianka, Slovakia (now in Svidník Outdoor Museum)
On a hill above the town of Svidník in north-eastern Slovakia lies the Ukrainian and Rusyn Village Museum, a collection of farm buildings, windmills and other historical wooden structures gathered from the surrounding region. The highlight of the museum is the Greek-Catholic wooden church originally from the small village of Nová Polianka, a few kilometres south of Svidník.
The church was built in Nová Polianka by local craftsmen around 1766 (some sources suggest as early as 1763) and was dedicated to Saint Paraskeva. During World War II the church and the village were badly damaged, and a newer brick church built in the 1930's became the main place of worship for the villagers.
The wooden church continued to be used for services until 1960, but in 1961 its condition had deteriorated enough that it was torn down. In the 1980's plans were made to found the Ukrainian and Rusyn Village Museum in Svidník, and it was decided that the church from Nová Polianka should be fully reconstructed for the museum based on the original architectural plans.
Eighteenth-century icons and interior fittings were collected from several different Greek-Catholic churches in the region and used to decorate the interior of the rebuilt structure. The church was opened as a part of the Village Museum in 1986, and since 1993 occasional Greek-Catholic masses and other religious services have been held there.
Built from pine wood, the church has a three-section floor plan in the typical Lemko style, with three accompanying steeples and beautifully decorative wrought-iron crosses above. The steeples and crosses are arranged in height with the highest above the entrance room, the middle one above the nave, and the lowest one above the sanctuary.
The wooden walls of the interior of the original church in Nová Polianka were covered in paintings of scenes from the Bible, but these were not recreated for the church in the museum. The iconostasis dates from the early 18th century and came from a church in a nearby village. There is a royal door at the centre of the iconostasis but the deacon doors for the two side entrances into the sanctuary are missing.
Standing next to the church is a wooden bell tower with a pyramidal shingled roof and an onion-shaped steeple topped with a cross. Two bells have been installed in the tower and are rung on special occasions. surrounding the church and bell tower is a low wooden fence with a shingled top in the Rusyn style which is typical of this region of the Carpathians.
The Village Museum in Svidník is open daily except Mondays from the beginning of May until the end of October. A Rusyn-Ukrainian folk festival is held in the village museum every year in June, attracting thousands of visitors to the event. Svidník is not connected to the railway network, so the most convenient way to get there by public transport is by bus from Prešov, Košice or Bardejov. Regular buses also run north from Svidník to the border with Poland at the Dukla Pass, where it is possible to catch a bus on the Polish side to the town of Krosno.