Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kožany, Slovakia

The small village of Kožany lies in rolling countryside surrounded by fields and forests in a remote region of north-eastern Slovakia, between the towns of Bardejov and Svidník. This small Greek-Catholic church sits on a low hill at the western end of the village, with views across the surrounding farmland.

Dedicated to the Lord's Meeting with Simeon, the church was constructed in the second half of the 18th century by local builders. The three-roomed structure sits on a low stone foundation and features a bell tower above the entrance area. Three bells are kept in the tower and the oldest was cast in 1406, making it one of the oldest church bells to be found in Slovakia.

The inerior of the nave contains colourful paintings on the wooden walls, a unique feature among the timber churches in this region. The paintings were created between 1793 and 1797 and depict many scenes from both the Old and New Testaments. A Last Judgement icon on canvas, painted in the the late 18th century, is one of the most precious works found in the church.

The iconostasis dates from the beginning of the 18th century, and here again is a unique feature, since instead of a Czar door and two Deacon doors at the sides, there is a main Czar door and only one side Deacon door, likely because of the narrow width of the nave. The bars placed over the windows on the exterior of the church are another unique feature, since they are made of hand-crafted wrought iron and are as old as the church itself.

The key for the church is kept by a family which lives in a house several doors down from the church on the same side of the road. They charge a small entrance fee and have some books and pamphlets about the wooden churches in the region available for sale.

Getting to Kožany by public transport is possible, since there are several buses per day on weekdays which go to the village from Bardejov's main bus station (fewer on Saturdays and Sundays). Getting to Bardejov is easiest by bus from Prešov, Poprad or Košice, all of which have transport connections throughout the country.