Ukrainian wooden church architecture of XVI-XVII centuries has no analogues in the whole world. Western Ukrainians built churches in a log construction technique and covered them with a sloping roofs made of wedged figured slats, called shingle (гонта, гонт, pronounced “gont”). Good-quality shingle roof can stand a test of more than 100 years under harsh climate. This technique has been used till late XIX century when tin roofs became popular due to emerging iron sheet industry. Most representatives of shingle architecture haven’t survived wars and fire, but still a visitor to Lviv region can find those beautiful remnants of wooden temple world.
Saint Archangel Michael Temple with a bell-tower (village Komarno)
Saint Archangel Michael Temple was built in 1754 and is one of the best examples of folk wooden architecture of Galicia. Some stories tell that 1754 is the year of the temple’s reconstruction and in fact it is even 100 years older. It is built of pine bars on the brick and stone base.
By 2004 the temple building got to the point of destruction and the shingle began to fall down. Both Greek Catholic and Orthodox Church communities of the village united to restore the temple and its bell-tower. To restore it Carpathian artisans produced 40 thousands new shingles.
People visit Saint Archangel Michael Temple to see XVIII century murals and remains of iconostasis. Most of its icons were moved to the collection of Lviv museum of folk architecture and ethnography in 1980’s.
Assumption Church (village Klitsko)
Klits’ko is a small village some 40 kilometers from Lviv. Its Assumption Church and its bell-tower were built in 1603. The church has gone through many repairs and renewals, but it still reflects old traditions of temple construction in Galicia.
From some time in XIXth century till 2000 the temple had been covered by blue tin roof. This church can be “read” as unique chronicle as it contains not only carved inscriptions with repair dates but also crucifix images and wood-cut words, left by pilgrims and parishioners in XVIII–XIX century. One of the inscriptions is a poem on God’s Glory ending with with the verse “apostles attract us eternally”.
Church of the Most Holy Mother of God (village Selets)
Some 13 kilometers from Sambir (90 km to the North of Lviv) in village Selets resides a lovely-looking shingle-top Church of the Most Holy Mother of God. This temple has a long and interesting history. In the XVII century the villagers were divided into the ones of noble origin and the villains ones living separately. The nobles (“szlachta”) and the villains (“kholops”). Only 1/3 of citizens belonged to the nobles, they did not have their own church, so they had to attend the kholops’ church. However, they stood separately in the temple during the worship. To avoid such a dishonor the nobles have built their own church, which is still one of the most picturesque Ukrainian temples under the shingle roof.
Saint Archangel Michael Church (village Isaii)
Usually the builders of old temples remain unknown, but the inscription on the doorjamb of the Saint Archangel Michael Church in Isaii tells that Illia Pantelyimon constructed the temple in 1663. The church is located not far from Yavir railway station some 140 km from Lviv.
The churches of this type are very rare. A special school of architecture was popular in the XVIIth century in Galicia. The main peculiarities of their church construction style included monumental onion-like cupolas, some space above the women’s part and strapping of the pillars.
According to the inscription on the doorjamb, a bell-tower of the Saint Archangel Michael Church is a hundred years younger than the temple. Earlier it functioned also as a gateway.
Church of Epiphany (village Kugaiv)
The Church of Epiphany with its bell-tower stands in the village Kugaiv on a low hill.
There is a date of 1693 on the doorjamb. This tridential church is very small: only 10m by 7.5m. The bell-tower near the temple was built in the XVIIIth century. This architectural ensemble is a fine example of authentic Boiky architecture of their ethnic region of the Carpathians Mountains.
Nowadays the Temple of Epiphany is in a sad condition and requires immediate restoration or at least recovering of the roof with new shingle.
We can tell you even more about the famous wooden churches with shingle roofs in Lviv region, but you will never feel this amazing sacred spirit of the past, if you don’t visit these remarkable temples yourself.
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