UNESCO Sites in the Carpathians
The Carpathian Mountains are an essential feature of the natural landscape and make a significant impact on the cultural landscape of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia.
New: Discover the UNESCO sites of the Carpathians with our interactive map!
One aspect of the Carpathians are abundant forests; in Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, UNESCO recognizes the importance of wooden churches to understanding the culture and history ofound throughout the region approaches to building houses of worship of wood. They were usually built and decorated by local craftsmen for smaller mountain settlements.
The medieval Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland are Roman Catholic in faith and Gothic in style, using a system of stacked logs. Royalty and noblemen often funded the building of the churches as a means of showing their status and power. The churches are beautifully painted inside, and offered a different ambiance than the stone churches found in cities.
In Slovakia, Wooden Churches of the Slovak part of the Carpathian Mountain Area serve the Roman Catholic, Protestant or Greek Orthodox faiths. They were built in a 200-year period between the 16th and 18th centuries. Although floor plans differ depending on the needs of each religion, the churches do share a certain similarity in the mix of Latin and Byzantine influences evident in their decoration. The Orthodox churches are notable as well for their icons.
Eight Wooden Churches of Maramureş listed in Romania are built in what is known as the Gothic Style of Marmures. Local oak wood was used to erect tall, narrow steeples and shingled roofs on these rather elegant churches. UNESCO recognizes the churches for their importance in showing regional adaptation to architectural need over a period of 400 years between the 14th and 18th centuries.
One of a kind
Legend says that when the martyr John of Nepomuk drowned, a five-pointed star appeared above his head. This was the inspiration for the famous Prague architect Jan Blazej Santini to build the Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora in a star shape, with five windows, five doors, and a series of five altars, all decorated with very dramatic frescoes. The church was built in the early 18th century in a fusion style known as Bohemian Gothic Baroque, and is very much one of a kind.
East meets west
Stari Ras and Sopoćani, a former capital and a significant monastery are two of Serbia’s UNESCO-recognized treasures. Stari Ras was established and inhabited from the 9th to the 13th centuries, at time serving as a regional capital, The ruins you can see include a cave and monastery combination, fortifications, and urban settlement buildings. The nearby monastery at Sopoćani reflects contacts between the Western and the Byzantine worlds, and contains some of the finest Serbian frescoes from the Middle Ages.
Life as it was
A visit to the Old Village of Hollókő and its Surroundings can be very experiential, especially if you arrive at Easter time. Holloko is a 17th century settlement that has been carefully preserved in its traditional condition, to give a very good idea of life in the country before the agricultural revolution of recent times. It is for such fastidious preservation that the village is on the World Heritage List. There are plenty of museums and craft workshops to visit as well, and at Easter time you have an opportunity to try your hand at crafts and enjoy folkloric performances. Beware the joyous pelting with water that takes place during the holiday!