The Wooden Church of Rogoz
The wooden church of Rogoz, in Târgu Lăpuș, dedicated to the Saint Archangels Michael and Gabriel, was built in 1663, shortly after the Tartar invasion, as indicated by the inscription near its door. In keeping with rural traditions, it was erected at the site of the former church, presumably destroyed by the invaders. In fact, the historical reality of Tartar invasions was such a concern for the villagers that following major attack was actually recorded in another inscription inside this church.
While the church proper was built by the villagers in 1663, the entire construction wasn’t completed – at least not to what it is today - until over two hundred years later. Specifically, in 1785 it was painted by masters Radu Munteanu and Nicolae Man, and in 1834 a balcony was added on the western side of the nave, the windows of the nave were enlarged, and the ceiling of the nave and of the ante-temple were repainted.
A visit inside the church reveals what was left of the paintings made in 1785, that is some fragments remaining on the walls and ceilings of the nave and of the ante-temple. As far as themes are concerned, they are selected from the Old and the New Testament. The southern, western and northern walls of the ante-temple illustrate scenes from Judgment Day in which, interestingly enough, Germans are included among the infidels meant for Hell. The northern wall of the nave still preserves fragments from the Parable of the Ten Virgins, illustrating Christ and His bride.
The paintings on the ceiling represent scenes from the Book of Genesis covering what happened between the creation of Adam and Eve and the moment they were banished from the Garden of Eden. As far as the icons are concerned, they are centered on The Last Supper, the Washing of the Feet and various Parables.
The modest village of Rogoz, home to barely 500 families, is known as the village of four churches and two “temples”, as it has two Orthodox and two Greek-Catholic churches, plus one Pentecostal and one Adventist place of worship. However, among all of them, only the centuries-old wooden church dedicated to the Saint Archangels Michael and Gabriel stands out as a religious and architectural monument of unparalleled beauty and grace.
The Wooden Church of Rogoz was in this form that it was eventually established both as a national historical monument and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From an architectural point of view, this rather large wooden church – measuring 14 m in length and 5.55 m in width – is somewhat atypical in the fact that it was built with a peculiar outline: the ante-temple is polygonal, the nave is rectangular and the apse of the altar is polygonal again, having seven sides. The projecting roof is asymmetrical, standing out so as to protect the “elders’ table”. The square-shaped steeple is above the nave and the high, pyramidal roof has turrets in each corner. The pillars that support the projecting roof are sculpted at one end so as to resemble horse heads, which is a laic architectural element specific to village houses.