the church spire in Lukov, one of the many wooden churches in the Bardejov area

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.

part of the village of Hervartov

the UNESCO-listed wooden church of Hervartov

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)

part of the wall that contains most of the frescoes inside

one of the frescoes inside

Saint George and the Dragon

a detail of the lower part (see below)

the painting of The Last Supper, of 1653 (the painting, not the supper)

the lower part of the fresco wall

the wooden church in Krive

and the one in Lukov

the view from the church in Lukov, it is a dark day

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.


one of the houses, and autumn colours

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.

inside the skansen, the open-air museum

the wooden church of Zboj, built in 1706, and now in the skansen

a door with six icons, like we saw in the museum in Bardajov

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?

a complete iconostasis, inside the church

the Greeg-Catholic church of Mikulasovej, from 1730, since 1931 relocated to the skansen

and this is a fruit drier, the fruit would be on the shelves, exposed to the heat from the stone oven

farm tools are also a part of the exhibition

the rest area in Bardejovske Kupule, not very popular today

one of the classic hotels in Bardejovske Kupule

and one of the more recent, communist-era additions

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.

there are two roads leading to the Zborov Castle

the Zborov castle pitched on the hill



one of the castle towers

the main castle building, still needs some restoration

some of the restoration looks a little less than authentic

the view past the castle wall

and full view, from the highest point of the castle

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.

Next: more churches in Svidnik

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