Wang Church – A Curiosity

Wang Church – A Curiosity

Wang Church is the main touristic attraction of a little mountain village Karpacz. It is situated in southern Poland just at the foot of an old mountain range Karkonosze. This whole place is way off the beaten track of foreign tourists and hikers and I bet that most of you have never heard about it. Continuing my story of a week spent on hiking there this spring let me tell you few things about this church.

This church is extraordinary: not only very old but also originally Norwegian. Surprised? I think most people are. Especially if you think how few of these churches last until today in Norway! It was constructed in 12th century in a small norwegian village called Vang from where it took its name (Wang in Polish). The history of this little wooden church until 19th century was pretty straightforward: it stood where it was constructed and served the local community for worship purposes. But then, in 19th century, something went differently than the ordinary. It was too small for the community and it was decided to be relocated so it could be used somewhere else. To make a long story short the edifice was taken to pieces and shipped in boxes, first to Szczecin, then transported to Berlin and finally reconstructed in Karpacz (in 1849). Apart of being an important touristic attraction in the area it is used by the local Lutherans until today.

Wang Church, Karpacz, Poland

Wang Church, Karpacz, Poland

There are many curious details of this outstanding piece of architecture, like as it was constructed without a single nail, which is so hard to believe! Most of all, however, it is striking how different it is when compared with all other buildings in the area. It is bizarre. Even though the traditional houses around are also wooden these norwegian architectural details (lions, winged dragons, runes) are striking. It is carefully crafted and very well conserved so this is quite a treat for fans of norwegian architecture. If you are interested in norwegian architecture check this post by Jeff. He goes in depth of these marvelous constructions.

Wang Church, Karpacz, Poland

Wang Church, Karpacz, Poland

What I love the most about this church is its smell. It is very special for two reasons: its age and my memories. As the construction is out of norwegian pine and the elements lasted for about 8 centuries the smell is very particular and – obviously – hard to describe. Try to think about old wooden buildings, like a mill or a barn. All years passed, all violent seasons’ change, everything marked it so the current smell consists of impossible to identify ingredients. For me it was also very special because it reminded me my childhood. It is an amazingly powerful experience: to smell the same smell after 25 years. Literally! THE SAME! 25 years is nothing when compared to 8 centuries so it hasn’t changed a bit! If you are curious what is the smell of the Wang church you need to visit it for yourself!

Photo gallery from Karkonosze is here.

About the author

I get easily fascinated with people and places. I am passionately curious. I get often seduced with the beauty of nature. Blue sky, pure water, white snow and endless horizon seams to be enough to make me happy.

View all articles by Agata Mleczko
  • hikebiketravel

    I love the smell of old wood and agreed that it’s a very beautiful church.. Amazing that not a nail was used to build it.

    • It sounds unbelievable, isn’t it? I find it hard to imagine how they marked the boxes to transport it and reconstructed just as it was before! Amazing!

  • Jeff Titelius

    Wonderful story about the Wang Church! The “stavkyrkje” or stave church derives its name from its post (stav in Norwegian) and lintel (horizontal beams) construction methods handed down by the Vikings. I wrote an entire feature on this type of architecture on my site. There’s a fascinating evolution of these building from simple to complex construction, and yes, all without nails. If you’re interested in finding out more, see my article : Norway’s Historic Stave Churches.

    • Thank you so much Jeff! I linked to your post as I find it most interesting!

  • Lisa @ Gone With The Family

    What a lovely church and such an interesting history!!

  • Wow, how beautiful. It still boggles the mind that buildings as beautiful as this one were created without nails. I remember hearing once that nails were handmade and pretty expensive back then, probably would have increased construction costs. And buildings like this church are still standing hundreds of years after construction. It’s a real testament to the craftspeople who built them. Makes me wonder how many of our glass and steel boxes will remain for future generations to appreciate.

    • It makes me think about modern architecture too. Not sure if we appreciate the ones created recently. I mean, the trends change so quickly! If you look at the buildings constructed 30-40 years ago and you already hate them then what will you think about them in 100 years?

  • This is such a beautiful church! I love the Scandinavian look and admire the workmanship. What a great history for you and old wood is wonderful. I can just imagine the history associated with it. I’d love a visit someday to inhale this special smell.

    • Indeed! So many fascinating things about this church!