The Wooden Church from Arduzel, Maramures county, Romania, is a rare place through its silence and history, and a charming one by its architecture and community.
A little story I wrote, inspired by the Wooden Church from Arduzel, Maramures
The air hangs frozen all around me, yet a branch ahead just swayed. Invitation or warning?
The trees, their trunks so dark, are huddled together like old women convened in a church whose ceiling touches the heavens. I feel I am intruding on a place so old, words alone would violate it. My breath, a drum. My boot, crunching the ice underfoot. I feel wickedly guilty. I should turn and leave at once.
When my eyes catch a pattern.
There, at the end of this path, harmony stands in shadows. ‘tis here,’ I hear a voice and I don’t recognise it as my own, ‘like the legend said it will be.’
Folded upon itself, silent and small behind a curtain of trees, the church. The church that was bought and brought. Bought out of love for God and through painstaking labour. Brought by hand, piece by piece. Like in a dream. It is a dream. For it is pure harmony that unravels to the eye of the believer and into the simple beauty of craftsmanship.
Its roof lowered like a hat over observant eyes. Its steeple, craning to search for the last of the worshipers making its way to mass. As many as they were, as few as they are left. The church awaits. Always has and now it is waiting for me.
I feel at peace as soon as I emerge from the forest. The air is softer here, the snow melted and no frigid draft sneaks between the old beams. It’s how it should be. There is solid ground underfoot, no more treacherous ice, and I step over the cornerstone.
I feel at home as soon as I touch its warm wood.
The space around… filled with the scent locked in its wooden beams, with the power of the prayers whispered within its walls… is sacred and good.
Ahead, like one’s narrow path, stretches the porch. A carpet of sun-filled crosses marks my way. I pause and wonder if the wood etchings that caused this pattern of light and shadows were created to mimic one’s faltering faith, and the struggle to remain on the straight and narrow. And I feel at ease.
As short as I am, I still bow my head and step inside.
Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.
What you ought to know about the tiny Wooden Church from Arduzel, Maramures, Romania
This wooden church, just as you can see it in the short video below, was built in 1699 or shortly after (as dendrochronology tells us) further north, in Gârdani village – 15 km away, nearly three hours by foot.
Sometime during the 18th century the small Christian community of Arduzel bought the wooden church from the people of Gârdani and brought it home. Piece by piece, then reassembled it. While the craftsmen of Gârdani used this income to raise a new church.
It was recently discovered that the trees chopped down and used to transport and reassemble the church were cut in 1769.
The wooden church of Arduzel is dedicated to Saints Archangels Michael and Gabriel.
Know that its entrance, placed on the south, is a tell-tale sign of its age. Like a woman who covers her head out of habit.
Know that its plain rectangular shape is proof of its builders’ primary knowledge of their craft, similar to raising a house that’s a home.
The village of Arduzel was first mentioned in 1334.
Read more about the history of his part of Romania.
You can read more (in Romanian) about the wooden church of Ardunzel, about Zona Codrului, Woodland Realm, and the project “Biserici de Lemn di Zona Codrului” here.
I am excited to support Codru Cultura Maramures. Keep up to date with new blog posts: