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Historic Orthodox churches – Smolnik and Łopienka

Poland’s main religion has traditionally been Catholicism, but the region of Bieszczady and Low Beskids was once inhabited primarily by Eastern Rite Christians. Wooden Orthodox churches in the Bieszczady Mountains are, after the mountain pastures, one of the most characteristic symbols of the region. Post-war resettlement and the abandonment of the mountains by their indigenous inhabitants only some of them have survived. 

Individual sites have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, along with other wooden churches and orthodox churches of the Małopolska and Carpathian regions. Most of them were built using traditional techniques, without the use of nails. They are true masterpieces of carpentry art.

Orthodox church in Smolnik nad Sanem

Before the war, many similar buildings could be found in the southeastern corner of Poland. Today it is assumed that the Smolnik Orthodox Church, among the three Boyko churches that survived, is the best preserved one.

The modest, small, but very distinctive body of the temple is composed of three basic parts that are like separate, attached wholes, with separate, broken tent roofs. Symmetry and the central plan of the Greek cross – these two such characteristic features of the Boyko Orthodox churches – are clearly visible in Smolnik.


The church is located in the central part of the Bieszczady Mountains, on a hill near the San River, in close proximity to the Bieszczady National Park and the mountain pastures. The interior is decorated with unusual chandeliers made of deer antlers.

The 18th-century church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with 16 similar sites in Poland and Ukraine (8 of which are in Poland).


Orthodox church in Łopienka

The Greek Catholic church with the icon of Our Lady of Beautiful Love of Łopien is one of the most magical places in the entire Bieszczady Mountains. Until the time of displacement, the Orthodox church with its venerated miraculous image was the largest Marian shrine in the Bieszczady Mountains and the destination of numerous pilgrimages. Believers from Rzeszów or the Ukrainian Uzhhorod came here.

After the war, the Orthodox church was devastated, but the icon and altar were saved. Thanks to the commitment of many community members, the temple was rebuilt, and a copy of the miraculous image was placed inside. In 2000 the parish fair was also reactivated – it is held on the first Sunday in October. It is attended by priests of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Church, residents from neighboring villages, scouts and tourists.

Łopienka is a depopulated village in the central-northern part of the Bieszczady Mountains. The Orthodox church is the only surviving building in the valley, whose slopes and bottom are now overgrown with forest interrupted by small meadows. You can reach it in 45 minutes on a pleasant, quiet road stretching along the valley floor from the Sine Wiry parking lot.

On the way to the Orthodox church you can see bloomeries – characteristic of the Bieszczady Mountains, cast-iron furnaces in which charcoal is burned.




Startpunkt - Orthodoxe Kirche in Smolnik nad Sanem

Historic Orthodox churches – Smolnik and Łopienka