Friday, December 3, 2010

Ulucz, Poland

This formerly Greek Orthodox church located in Poland's far south-eastern corner sits on a steep wooded hillside above the small village of Ulucz. Thought to be one of the oldest Eastern Rite churches in the country, the tserkva was constructed in 1659 as part of a monastery complex with surrounding fortifications. The monks closed the monastery and left the region in 1744, but the church continued to serve the local Orthodox population until the 20th century.
At the end of the Second World War, the Boyko ethnic group who lived in the village were forcibly resettled to other parts of Poland, and Catholic Poles were encouraged to settle in the region. As a result, the Greek Orthodox church was converted for use as a Roman Catholic church for the second half of the 20th century. It has recently been taken over by the Museum of Folk Architecture in the nearby town of Sanok and is now used only as a museum. A mass is held in the church just once each year, on Ascension Day (40 days after Easter).
The church interior is nearly empty, as the Greek Orthodox iconostasis and icons are now on permanent display in the Sanok museum. A few badly faded painted frescoes can be seen on the wooden walls, including one depicting the crucifixion of Christ. The key to the church is kept by the family who live in house number 16 at the opposite end of the village. They are happy to come and open the church for visitors who come by car, as the distance to the church is about two kilometres along the road.
The village of Ulucz is best reached with your own transport, though there are infrequent buses which run to the village from the town of Sanok. Another excellent option is renting a bicycle in Sanok in order to travel to Ulucz and to have the opportunity to visit other villages in the region as well.

12 comments:

  1. I just posted a comment but it seems to have vanished into the ether.

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  2. I will try again. I wrote that I know this cerkiew as I visited it in the late spring 1998. Earlier that year, my mother had passed away, and as she was from Binghamton, NY, we held her funeral there. At the wake, I had a long fruitful conversation with a John Tylko. My mother and John's late sister Julia had been very close friends. John had been trained as an engineer and both he and his sister were members of St. John's Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Johnson City. When I was a child, the church had a modest cerkiew on Virginia Avenue, down the street from my grandmother's house. The congregation, however, built a new cerkiew, with three gold domes, close by, and John was the architect. He told me that the founding members of the congregation were Orthodox Christians, not Greek Catholics, from Poland and emigrated to the US from Ulucz. He told me about this cerkiew based on photos the congregation had in its possession and on stories he had heard growing up at St. John's. Inspired by this conversation, I made it a point to find Ulucz and this cerkiew that spring. I did. I drove in a rental car meandering from Sanok along a river (San?) on a paved road in search of Ulucz. The paving ended abruptly with no sign of the cerkiew. I kept on driving but eventually turned back, using a paper atlas, and decided to park the car where the paving began/ended. I then walked in an easterly direction up a steep hill and through a forest until I reached the summit and this cerkiew, abandoned, in a clearing. Amazing building. I had a video camera with me and attempted to video the site....I need to find the videos. Ed Mohylowski etmnyc551@gmail.com

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  3. Do you speak any Polish? It helps a lot in that region... The interior of the church is empty, though it's worth seeing the inside to get a better understanding of how the building is constructed. I wouldn't say that it is abandoned, it's protected as a national cultural monument.

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  4. Does this church have a basement?

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  5. Does this church have a basement?

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  6. Hi Tanya, no, the Ulucz church doesn't have a basement. Basements are very rare in wooden churches of this type, I know of only a few of them that do have basements. The Ulucz church was constructed on a low foundation of flagstones to stabilize the building and protect the wood from moisture seepage. Is the church you have a photo of something like this (I'm still waiting to look at it)? If so it's in the Poland/Ukraine border area and could be found on either side nowadays.

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    1. i don't see the response I just posted, so i'll post again.thank you so much for contacting me, I did not see your answer until just this minute!!!! I can't post my picture here, so can you please send me your e mail address so i can attach it, or my e mail is tanya@precisionorganizing.net. This church looks so similar to my drawing. was there one architect who made a few of these? My church had/has a basement with arched white walls that I think are covered in limestone. Thank you again!!

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    2. i don't see the response I just posted, so i'll post again.thank you so much for contacting me, I did not see your answer until just this minute!!!! I can't post my picture here, so can you please send me your e mail address so i can attach it, or my e mail is tanya@precisionorganizing.net. This church looks so similar to my drawing. was there one architect who made a few of these? My church had/has a basement with arched white walls that I think are covered in limestone. Thank you again!!

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  7. are there other buildings surrounding this church that you have pictures of that have a basement?

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    1. Hi Tanya, I've just emailed you so we can continue talking that way. This church is by itself on a forested hilltop above the village, there are no other buildings near it. I'm surprised to hear you say your church has a basement with white limestone walls, that's a very unusual feature and will make it easier to locate.

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  8. Wondreful history and photos --But just want to know,,the Church in Ulucz inside the faded frescos how can they let them fade like this?
    who painted them? more information about this please.

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    1. Hi, the Ulucz church, like many others in south-eastern Poland, was not taken care of during the communist era, some were re-purposed as storage sheds leading to inevitable damage. The frescoes may also have been damaged by moisture coming in between the wooden beams. I'm not aware of exactly who painted them, in most instances the church interiors in the region were painted by local masters in a naive style.

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