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Wooden Architectural Beauties of the Krakow Region

Hundreds of graceful centuries-old wooden churches, as well as other ancient timber buildings from manor houses to inns to peasant cottages to industrial facilities such as mills, have survived in the Malopolska (Lesser Poland) province whose capital city is Krakow. Since 2003 four of them – in the villages of Sekowa, Binarowa, Lipnica Murowana and Debno Podhalanskie – have featured on the UNESCO List of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. At the same time, scores of wooden churches in the Malopolska region can match the chosen foursome

17th-century wooden church in the town of Rabka

The old church of larch wood in Rabka, a resort town 60 km south of Krakow, dates back to 1606 and has been turned to a museum in 1936.

Monuments of wooden architecture in the city of Krakow

Also Krakow itself can boast many vintage buildings of wood within the city limits such as the octagonal St. Margaret’s chapel (Kaplica Sw. Malgorzaty) of 1690 at Blogoslawionej Bronislawy street in the Salwator neighborhood. Also, there is a somewhat forsaken folk architecture park at the end of Kasztanowa street in the Wola Justowska residential area, on the edge of the Las Wolski forest, with wooden buildings transferred from various Malopolska villages. Unfortunately, its 17th-century church has been burned so you may see only the 18th-century inn and a timber granary of 1764. 

Krakow's wooden St. Margaret's chapel of 1690
St. Margaret’s chapel (Kaplica Sw. Malgorzaty) of 1690 in the Krakow's Salwator district.  

A large wooden church near the Cistercian Abbey (Opactwo Cystersow) in the Mogila area of Nowa Huta district dates back to 1466 being one of Poland's oldest timber buildings. The St. Bartholomew's church (Kosciol Sw. Barlomieja) at 226 Klasztorna street underwent major renovations in 1587 and in the second half of the 18th century. Its gate/belfry with shingled domed roof dates from 1752. A wooden pointed gothic portal with inscription and date "1466" has survived inside the church. Other notable feature of the interior are rococo frescos of 1766.  

Malopolska wooden architecture on the World Heritage List of UNESCO

St. Leonard's Church (Kosciol Sw. Leonarda) in the village of Lipnica Murowana some 50 km southeast of Krakow. This modest single-nave church with a shingled, ridged roof dates back to the end of the 15th century. Its interior boasts mostly baroque decor yet the ceiling paintings date from the 15th, the 16th, and the 17th centuries. In the 17th century also wooden arcades have been attached on the outside. Tradition has it that the church was built on the site of a pagan shrine around the idol of the four-faced god Swiatowit that now props up the back of the altar of St Leonard.

Church of St. Archangel Michael (Kosciol Sw. Michala Archaniola) in the village of Debno Podhalanskie roughly 90 km south of Krakow. The late-15th-century church built of larch and fir has shingled roofs. The ceiling of its nave and chancel are of exposed timber planks. Well-preserved, beautiful paintings of the early 16th century cover entirely the walls inside. Noteworthy is the scene of The Crucifixion in the rood screen with the crucifix from the end of the 14th century. The altarpiece dates from the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. 

Church of St. Archangel Michael (Kosciol Sw. Michala Archaniola) in the village of Bimarowa about 115 km southeast of Krakow. Built circa 1500, the church has its walls covered with shingles. The tower has been added in 1596 while the outside arcades (so called sobotas) as well as a belfry and the chapel at the northern side date from the 17th century. The church boasts rich and valuable furnishings of the16th and the 17th centuries.

Church of SS Philip and Jacob (Kosciol Sw. Sw. Filipa i Jakuba) in the village of Sekowa some 155 km southeast of Krakow. The main body of the church has been built in 1520 of larch logs. A short tower, a belfry, and wide exterior arcades have been attached to it in the 18th century. Both the church roof and walls are covered with shingles. Devastated in the Great War the church has undergone masterful renovation by the end of past century. Inside, an ornately sculptured and painted altarpiece embodies the late-Renaissance art of the late 16th century. Also noteworthy is the late-Gothic baptismal font of stone that dates back to 1522.  

18th-century wooden inn in the town of Sucha Beskidzka

The 18th-century inn in Sucha Beskidzka, a  town some 60 km southwest of Krakow, is one of stops on 'The Trail of Wooden Architecture' that runs through the Malopolska province.

The Wooden Architecture Route through the Malopolska region 

Mindful of the value of the wooden architecture in the Malopolska province its government has stitched together various itineraries linking ancient timber buildings. As a result, The Wooden Architecture Route meanders through the region for over 1,500 km, connecting 248 sites – single buildings as well as complexes – including the four churches listed as the World Heritage by UNESCO (see above). They are marked and 600-plus special road signs direct drivers to them. 


Other UNESCO World Heritage sites in Krakow and the Malopolska Province

Krakow's Old Town historic district 

Wieliczka salt mine

Auschwitz concentration camp

The Calvary sanctuary of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska

In the proximity of Krakow
Krakow is Poland's tourist mecca, and also a gateway to many other must-see sites in the region.


Malopolska Province

Poland map

Free photos from the Malopolska region


Krakow
Poland's prime tourist attraction and a must in Central Europe boasts numerous world-class monuments, charming vistas, delightful atmosphere, and the best restaurants.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Krakow and nearby


In the footsteps of Pope John Paul II

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