Friday, December 3, 2010

Desești, Romania

The UNESCO-listed wooden church in Desesti is one of the best preserved in the Maramures region of north-west Romania. Known as the church of Pious Parascheva, it was constructed in 1770. The influence of the gothic style is clear in its design, and this was typical of the churches built in the region following the destruction caused by the Tatar invasions of 1717.
The interior contains an excellent collection of icons painted on glass as well as wood. The exterior of the church features a large cross shape formed in the shingles above the front entrance. The church is surrounded by a small colourful cemetery featuring wooden and stone grave markers and sits on a low forested hill above the village.
A highly decorative gate with wooden towers attached can be found below the church at the foot of the hill. A sign on the front of the church informs visitors that the church was struck by lightning in 1924 and that the tower of the church burned down and had to be rebuilt. It seems remarkable that a building made of wood with such an incredibly tall tower wasn't a more frequent target of lightning in the days before lightning conductors came into common use. I was unable to find any local person about who could locate the key to open the church, so this was one of the few Maramures churches I was unable to see the interior of. The village of Desesti has many of the typical Maramures-style wooden gates lining the streets in front of people's houses, and horse carts are a common sight in the roads and laneways.

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