Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Wednesday 03 March |
Saint of the Day: St. Katharine Drexel
home iconTravel
line break icon

A journey through the wooden churches of Maramures, Romania

©Luminita | Wikimedia Commons

V. M. Traverso - published on 06/26/18

Built of thick timber logs and measuring up to 220-feet in height, the churches look like they were straight out of a Tolkien saga.

The region of Maramures, in northern Transylvania, Romania, is home to some of the most unique churches in the world, each made of thick logs and with a giant roof that seems to dwarf the main body of the church.

From the tall pinnacles of Gothic cathedrals to the twisting columns of Baroque churches to the geometric vaults of neo-Classical chapels, churches are known to come in many different shapes and forms.

But no matter their style, they are usually built with durable materials, like limestone or marble. Which is why the wooden churches of Maramures, built during the 18th century in what is modern-day Romania, are unique. Built of thick timber logs and measuring up to 220 feet in height, Maramures churches look like they were straight out of a Tolkien saga.

They come in different sizes but they all feature a tall, narrow bell tower and a towering pyramid-shaped roof that seems to engulf the main body of the church. Most structures were made from interlocking pieces of wood that were cut and shaped by ax, with almost no use of nails—a typical feature of the vernacular architectural style of the Eastern Carpathian region that encompasses parts of modern-day Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Romania.

Of the roughly 300 churches that were built during the 18th century, about a hundred have survived to this day. Eight of them were listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1999. Here are some of the most important ones:

ArchitectureChurch History
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Jacques Fesch
Brother Silas Henderson, SDS
Meet the Death Row prisoner who discovered a ...
Cerith Gardiner
12 Things every Catholic woman should have in her purse
V. M. Traverso
The 9 oldest images of Mary
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
Cerith Gardiner
10 Celebrities whose marriages have stood the test of time
Gelsomino Del Guercio
7 Sanctuaries linked by a straight line: The legendary Sword of S...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.