Although not a 100% successful, we manage to visit the most important wooden church in the Bardejov area, as well as the open-air museum and the Zborov Castle.
Armed with the map of the tourist office, and contact telephone numbers for all the wooden churches in the area, we set off from Bardejov. First to the most famous of all, the UNESCO-listed church in Hervartov. Contrary to the other churches, this one, apparently the oldest wooden church in the country, from 1490, is a Roman Catholic church, dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi.
Of course, the church is closed. But we have a telephone number, and after a bit of insisting the lady with the key turns up 20 minutes later. Good for us, because the church is, indeed, wonderfully decorated with 16th and 18th Century frescos that have been carefully restored in the 1970s. Although officially one is not to take photographs inside, the lady relents. Good for you, you can enjoy them, too!
(and even more photos here)
But when we get to other churches, the limitations present themselves. Both in Krive and in Lukov, nobody answers the telephone, and we are left with the wooden churches from the outside. Also nice, mind you, although the weather doesn’t help with taking pictures. For the last church on our list, the one in Fricka, somebody does answer, but just tells us that today is not possible.
The option of last resort is the skansen – the open-air museum – of Bardejovske Kupule, just out of town, advised by the tourist office lady, who said that at least this will be open. Which is wasn’t. When we arrived a four pm, the museum had closed, time tables had changed from 1st of October onwards. Today is 1st of October.
But the next morning we have more luck. The skansen is open, and has some nice wooden houses on display, and no less than two churches. The sunshine is still lacking, but you can’t win them all, can you?
As a bonus, we also explore briefly the rest of Bardejovske Kupule, which is a vast spa area. A weird environment with multiple hotels, some old and almost collapsing, some horrible soviet-era blocks; there is almost no traffic, certainly no cars, and everybody walking is doing that slowly – the way to recuperate, probably, from whatever illness these people have.
Ahh, and the second bonus is the Zborov Hrad, another ruined castle, north of Bardejov. Unlike the Spissky Hrad experience, the weather is nice, the climb to the top is a lot less slippery, and the ruins are open. A group of what looks volunteers is busy with a painfully slow restoration process. From the early results, perhaps we should be glad that it has not proceeded too far, yet, as some of the restored arches look awfully modern, and out of place. But even so, the view from the top is great, and that you don’t restore away so easily.