A small Romanian wooden church has won one of Europe’s top cultural prizes.
The 18th-century wooden church in the Carpathian foothills was destroyed by fire and carefully restored in recent years.
The church which is in the village of Urși was selected in the 2021 European Heritage Awards/Europa Nostra Awards announced in Venice on Thursday.
It also received a Grand Prix and the Public Choice Award for the restoration work.
Giorgio Cini Foundation
The Europa Nostra board chose four 2021 Grand Prix winners.
Apart from the Romanian church, FIBRANET – FIBRes in ANcient European Textiles (Denmark/Greece), the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage (Cyprus); and The Invention of a Guilty Party, Trento (Italy) also won prizes of 10,000 euros.
The Romanian church also won the general public’s vote as the most popular heritage project in Europe. Some 7,000 people voted on the Europa Nostra website.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said: “I warmly congratulate the … winners… for their success and remarkable contributions to our Europe of Culture.”
„At a moment when Europe is determined to build back better, these success stories are a true inspiration and a powerful example of what we, as Europeans, can achieve together ,” she added.
The church which stands in the cemetery of the small village of Urși was painstakingly restored by a number of partners including the local community.
Dedicated to the Annunciation and the Archangel Michael, it was built between 1757 and 1784.
It survived a fire in 1838, and was repaired and decorated with frescoes. However, it was later abandoned after a new church went up in the village.
It was rediscovered in 2007, with no foundation and at risk of collapse. Its roof was in a dire state.
The frescoes, painted in the post-Byzantine tradition with Western influences were of high artistic value but in a state of disrepair.
The church was included in the “60 Wooden Churches program” in Romania by the Pro Patrimonio Foundation in 2009.
Villagers offered food, accommodation, access to electricity, labor and transportation, as well as the in-kind work from national and international volunteers who helped with the conservation works, a statement said.
From 2009 to 2020, the restoration works took place each summer following months of fundraising efforts in the preceding year. The Jury found the restoration quality to be commendable.