Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael

Haczów, Poland

The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael in Haczow has original Gothic polychrome decoration from the late 15th century, although the building has been dated to the previous century. At the beginning of the 17th century the church was enclosed by an earthen defensive rampart. Inside a valuable figural wall paintings dating from 1494 can be seen. It is believed that the Haczów church is the biggest Gothic wooden church in Europe.

The church is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wooden Churches of Southern Lesser Poland and Subcarpathia. The wooden churches of southern Little Poland represent outstanding examples of the different aspects of medieval church-building traditions in Roman Catholic culture.

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2006R 566, Haczów, Poland
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Founded: 1388
Category: Religious sites in Poland

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Kalozha Church

The Kalozha church of Saints Boris and Gleb is the oldest extant structure in Hrodna. It is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the wall.

The church is a cross-domed building supported by six circular pillars. The outside is articulated with projecting pilasters, which have rounded corners, as does the building itself. The ante-nave contains the choir loft, accessed by a narrow gradatory in the western wall. Two other stairs were discovered in the walls of the side apses; their purpose is not clear. The floor is lined with ceramic tiles forming decorative patterns. The interior was lined with innumerable built-in pitchers, which usually serve in Eastern Orthodox churches as resonators but in this case were scored to produce decorative effects. For this reason, the central nave has never been painted.

The church was built before 1183 and survived intact, depicted in the 1840s by Michał Kulesza, until 1853, when the south wall collapsed, due to its perilous location on the high bank of the Neman. During restoration works, some fragments of 12th-century frescoes were discovered in the apses. Remains of four other churches in the same style, decorated with pitchers and coloured stones instead of frescoes, were discovered in Hrodna and Vaŭkavysk. They all date back to the turn of the 13th century, as do remains of the first stone palace in the Old Hrodna Castle.

In 2004, the church was included in the Tentative List of UNESCO"s World Heritage Sites.