The Greek Catholic Church in Şurdeşti is one of the most spectacular structures. This place of worship has a huge tower, made of oak, 54 metres high, when calculated from the ceiling height of the narthex above which it was built. In total, from the foundation and to the top of the tower, the total height is 72 metres. This Maramureş church, dedicated to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, is among the highest sacred buildings in the world. The Church in Şurdeşti was built on the former site of a place of worship destroyed during the Tartar invasion in the year 1717. Its artisan was the renowned master builder John Macarius, who dared to raise its gigantic tower. According to some sources, the church was built in 1721 and according to others in 1766. The church’s mural painting combines Byzantine and post-Byzantine elements with the baroque, in a style very much appreciated in Maramureş at the time. The painting was done in 1783. There were three artists who worked on this accomplishment. The altar was painted by Stephen the Painter, the nave by Master Stan and the narthex by a disciple of the latter, according to art historians who analyzed the icons kept inside the church walls.
In addition to the tower whose half is expressly marked and which keeps the bells in a special console type, the Greek-Catholic church of Şurdeşti has another architectural peculiarity. Namely, it is the porch which has two rows of arches, identical in decoration and shape, but with different openings.
There is a third element that bestows a special charm to these holm oak churches in the north of Romania and it is the two gutter roof which covers everything in a unitary manner including the altar, which is located in a polygonal apse.
The sculptures that decorate the outside of the church are also noteworthy. According to historical sources, these wooden decorations were the work of a local artisan named Stephen.
Travel info: The distance Bucharest - Şurdeşti is 595 kilometres and from Cluj-Napoca and Şurdeşti it is 143 kilometres.
Photo: Mircea Rareş Ţetcu