The wooden church "Saint Paraschiva" from Deseşti

The wooden church "Saint Paraschiva" from Deseşti

Biserica de lemn / Obiective turistice


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Desești 437135, Romania


The road from Baia Mare to Sighetu Marmaţiei crosses the Gutâi Mountains, passing through the township of Deseşti. On these lands stands one of the most important churches of Maramureş, not far from the sources of the Mara River. Erected in 1717 - according to other sources, in 1770, on the site of an older one, this place of worship was dedicated to the Pious Paraschiva and was painted around 1780 by Radu Munteanu and Alexandru Ponehalschi.

The architecture of the building is in line with that of the traditional churches of Maramureș, the harmony of its proportions strengthening the impression of simplicity and elegance, specific to these monuments. The upper beams that support the frame are carved in the shape of a ladder, giving the ensemble a special line.

The layout of the place of worship comprises a rectangular main body - which, on the outside, resembles the layout of a hall-type church - which consists of a narthex and a nave, continued by the detached altar. The nave has a semi-cylindrical vault and double eaves. Above the ceilinged narthex rises the bell tower with a sharp coif, the entire architectural ensemble being supported on a stone pedestal.

Access to the interior of the building is done through a portal inlaid with geometric and vegetal decorative motifs, but also with the element of the twisted rope, a symbol of Christian unity. The exceptionally well-preserved painting has undergone a complete restoration, giving the monument its original appearance. The iconographic themes of Deseşti are common to all churches with post-Byzantine paintings, but here they can be observed much more easily.

The narthex develops the theme of the Last Judgment, and here - but also at Poienile Izei - the moralizing valences of this theme can be easily identified. If in the art of Byzantine tradition of previous centuries the main characters painted in Hell were heretics and persecuting emperors, here we can easily see how the theological valences of the scene diminish, carnal sins prevailing over faith sins. Thus, the one who steals land without respecting the border, the one who steals taking advantage of his job as a miller or merchant, or the one who destroys families, become the main characters in scenes that show us a Hell full of torture tools used in the Middle Ages.

The value of the monument lies in its technical construction, in the perfect science of execution and assembly of wooden elements. The architectural harmony and the perfect integration of the wooden decorative elements with the iconographic ones created an ensemble of remarkable simplicity and elegance. 


  • Patrimoniu UNESCO

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