From the World Heritage inscription:
The wooden churches of southern Little Poland bear exceptional testimony to the tradition of church building from the Middle Ages. They have also been preserved in the context of the vernacular village and landscape setting, and related to the liturgical and cult functions of the Roman Catholic Church in a relatively closed region in central Europe. They are exceptionally well-preserved and representative examples of the medieval Gothic church, built using the horizontal log technique, particularly impressive in their artistic and technical execution, and sponsored by noble families and rulers as symbols of prestige.
The history of Poland goes back to the unification of the Christian lands and the constitution of the kingdom in the 10th and 11th centuries. Churches have been of particular significance in the development of Polish wooden architecture, and an essential element of settlement structures, both as landmarks and as ideological symbols. They were an outward sign of the cultural identity of communities, reflecting the artistic and social aspirations of their patrons and creators. The nine sites in southern Little Poland represent different aspects of these developments.
This is a serial site of churches in nine different villages which compromise the world heritage site. They are:
- Archangel Michael (Binarowa)
- All Saints (Blizne)
- Archangel Michael (Debno)
- Blessed Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael (Haczow)
- St. Peter and St. Paul (Lachowice)
- St. Leonard (Lipnica Murowana)
- St. John the Baptist (Orawka)
- St. Philip and St. James the Apostles (Sekowa)
- Archangel Michael (Szalowa)
I visited St. Leonard’s in the village of Lipnica Murowana, which is the closest church in the world heritage site to Krakow.
These churches are only for hard core world heritage site enthusiasts. They are very small. St. Leonard’s was small enough that you could easily walk around the entire building in under a minute. Lipnica Murowana was about an hour’s drive from Krakow and the church wasn’t even open. It wasn’t hard to find, but it did take some effort. Once you get to the village, just look for the big white church and park near there. The smaller, darker church is very close by and walking distance.
This might just hold the record for the most obscure world heritage site that I have visited.
View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.