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Topoľa's wooden church

THE NORTH eastern regions of Slovakia are known for their unique wooden churches, most of which date back to the 18th century. While locals refer to such a church as a “cerkev”, experts have described the churches in a wide range of terms based on the ethnicity and religious leanings of the inhabitants of the areas in which they are typically found: eastern-Byzantine, Orthodox, Greek-Orthodox, Carpathian-Ruthenian, Lemkovian, Ruthenian, Ruthenian-Ukrainian, etc.

THE NORTH eastern regions of Slovakia are known for their unique wooden churches, most of which date back to the 18th century. While locals refer to such a church as a “cerkev”, experts have described the churches in a wide range of terms based on the ethnicity and religious leanings of the inhabitants of the areas in which they are typically found: eastern-Byzantine, Orthodox, Greek-Orthodox, Carpathian-Ruthenian, Lemkovian, Ruthenian, Ruthenian-Ukrainian, etc.

In addition to north-eastern Slovakia, wooden churches can be found in Zakarpattia Region in Ukraine and the Lemko region in Poland (both of which are inhabited by minorities who state their ethnicity as either Ukrainian or Ruthenian, although they are called Lemkos in Poland).

A typical cerkev is more modest and intimate when compared with many of its western Roman Catholic counterparts, which has to do with the fact that many Eastern Orthodox believers emphasise a deeper connection with nature than those in the western Christian world.

The wooden church in this picture is among the oldest in the country. It was built around 1700 in Topoľa in the Zemplín region, and was dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. It received its status as a national cultural monument due to its architectural and historical value, as well as its prominent location on a steep hill overlooking the village.

This postcard shows the Topoľa church in the early 1920s. The shot was taken by famous photographer Karel Plicka, who had an apparent fascination with wooden churches. Among his work, one can find several photographs of these beautiful structures.

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