The Greek orthodox church of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Hańczowa

Hańczowa is a large village between Uście Gorlickie and Wysowa. As most of the villages in the area, it used to be inhabited by Lemkos.

The old, wooden church is located in the village center. It is the church of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary (in eastern tradition it is called Pokrov).

The oldest part of the church is its tower, built in the 18th century.  The remaining parts of the building were constructed in 19th century.

After the Vistula operation and the displacements of people the church was being used as a Roman catholic parish. As its condition was very bad, in 1956 there was the decision to demolish it. Fortunately at this time some Lemko families came back to their homeland and were pushing to obtain  and restore the building. In 1958 The orthodox parish had been re-established in Hańczowa.

In the interior there is a polychrome from the 19th century. The nave and sanctuary are separated by the  complete iconostasis – wall of icons and religious paintings, created by Antoni Bogdański and his sons: Michał and Zygmunt. They were the members of famous artists family, coming from Jaśliska (the little town in the South-Eatsern Poland), painting the icons in the whole Galicia area.

The iconostasis in the orthodox church in Hańczowa. Source:

The history of renovation works made on this precious iconostasis is the sad example of the ignorance and the poor state of the protection of historical monuments in communist Poland: In 1963 the iconostasis was dismantled and transported to Łańcut icon magazine. It was stored in such bad conditions that during the severe winter,  paintings were covered by snow. Later the paintings were transported to Warsaw, where they were partially renovated and sent back to Łańcut. Finally the icons found their way to Jarosław, where the works were finished. In 1971, when the iconostasis was installed back in Hańczowa they found out, that the signs on the back of the paintings vanished and the documentation with drawings was lost. So the iconostasis was installed “from memory”…

Nowadays the iconostasis, polychrome are renovated and the beautiful interior is also decorated by the  traditional embroidered shawls.

Recently a website with detailed description of the church and a virtual tour has been created:

Source: Magdalena i Artur Michniewscy, Marta Duda, Cerkwie drewniane Karpat. Polska i Słowacja, Wydawnictwo Rewasz, Pruszków, 2003

Click here to see the details of our ready-made tour ‘Wooden treasures of southern Poland’:

Aga Pawlus
PolishOrigins Team

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