It’s my pleasure to take you on a very special tour with me. We will stay in Eastern Slovakia and explore wooden churches that can only be found in this part of country. But first we will learn about a project called ‘Dvere do Polonín’ (Door to Poloniny) and visit an educational walkway ‘Pod tmavou oblohou’ (Under the dark sky).
It’s going to be a long tour so let’s start!
Dvere do Polonín
This project was created to build a unique relaxation area in the village of Ulič, in a place that was not maintained before and where locals were disposing the garbage. The project was finalized in 2013.
This is where the area starts.
There is also a small lake from where you can admire beautiful views. There are a few tables and a few BBQ spots as well. It’s usually very crowded but we are now in the middle of the harvest period and locals are mostly working on their fields.
When you enter the area, you will see a symbolic gate to National Park Poloniny – a blue door. Behind the door, visitors can find benches and wooden sculptures.
The wooden sculptures are created by local artist Mr. Gaľa. They represent various animals and fairy tale creatures.
Here are a few of them:
A snail and a turtle
An old man symbolizing wisdom
I can’t get enough of these views!
We saw some hops too. I think it’s more for decoration than for actual consumption.
We found this mushroom today, but we didn’t take it as we didn’t want to carry it around for the rest of the day. Plus it was so cute that I couldn’t pick it up.
Pod tmavou oblohou
Part of the area is dedicated to the educational walkway ‘Pod tmavou oblohou’. This is the place where children can learn more about the forest, the plants and the animals living there.
There are various activities for children to keep them excited but also some education boards with detailed and interesting information about the region.
Are you asking why is the walkway called ‘Under the dark sky’?
This region is the least populated region in Slovakia and the street lamps are turned off from 10 PM. When people go to bed and turn off the lights in their houses the surroundings become pitch dark. This makes it one of the best places in Europe for stargazing.
National Park Poloniny is also called Dark – sky Park Poloniny for this reason.
There is also a logo with directions to other protected areas of darkness in the world.
I was disappointed to see that the Big spider web (next to the logo) representing stars constellations was damaged.
Mini Gallery of Wooden Churches
From the area ‘Dvere do Polonín’ we walk down the hill to the village to visit Mini Gallery of Wooden Churches.
First of all, let me tell you that I love this project!
The project shows us the architecture, history and the present state of the wooden churches of the Eastern Rite which are the most valuable cultural monuments of this region.
Not all of them survived the wars but there are seven of them which are preserved and present in villages in the region.
In the gallery we can see replicas of churches produced from the oak and pine woods.
In the beginning of the 20th century there were still thirteen churches present in the region. Part of them were destroyed, mainly during the World Wars. The wooden church in Runina was destroyed during the World War I and the one in Prislop in World War II. Church in Strihovec was destroyed in the period between the wars and the church in Dara was destroyed shortly after the World War II.
Wooden churches were built on a stone basement without using metal nails. Their interior is divided into three parts (narthex, nave and sanctuary) which symbolizes the Holy Trinity.
The replicas are made in scare of 1:10 in a local protected workshop.
I hope you will enjoy them as they are the most important part of my region (even though I’m not Orthodox but my dad’s family is)
The original wooden church was dismantled in 1866. It was standing on the top of the hill in the village where the gallery is built. It is only known from the painting preserved on the original iconostasis.
The church of St. Michael the Archangel was built in 1764 and dismantled in 1974 and moved to the Open – Air Folk Architecture Exhibition of Vihorlat Museum in Hummene. I will take you there next time.
This is replica of the preserved church standing in Ruský Potok. It was built at the end of the 17th century and it is the smallest wooden church in the region.
The wooden church of St. Mother of God was built in the 18th century and destroyed during fights in World War II.
The wooden church of St. Mother of God in Dara was built in 1806. It was dismantled after the new brick church was built in 1956. The only thing that is left from the church is the iconostasis that was moved to the church in Príslop.
The wooden church of St. John Baptist was built in the 18th century is the only church in the region in ‘a coat’ (timber frame wood, clayed and white-limed).
The church of St. Michael the Archangel was built in 1718. It has the most beautiful iconostasis. This is the only church with regular service and it is the easternmost wooden church in Slovakia.
The wooden church of St. Nicolas was built in 1706. It is considered the most beautiful wooden church in Slovakia. In 1967 it was dismantled and moved to the open – air museum in Bardejov.
Do you want to see a wooden church that is preserved and in the original location? Here you go!
We visited Ruský Potok to compare the church with the replica in the gallery and I must say that the artist did a great job in creating the replica!
The church is usually closed and it’s only open for special celebrations.
There is a new brick church next to the old wooden church. I like the old church better 😊 Which one do you prefer?
After our trip we visited my grandma and showed her the photos. She was so excited to see them! She cannot get out of house for several months already and she is very thankful to see the world at least through the photos.
Thank you for reading,