Grand Prix and Public Choice Award for Urşi Wooden Church at 2021 European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards

Grand Prix and Public Choice Award for Urşi Wooden Church at 2021 European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards

PRESS RELEASE

European Commission and Europa Nostra announce Europe’s top heritage award winners 2021

Venice, 23 September 2021

 

The winners of the 2021 European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s top honour in the field, were celebrated this afternoon with a high-profile ceremony held at the headquarters of the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice. During the ceremony, representatives from the European Commission and Europa Nostra proudly announced the four Grand Prix laureates and the Public Choice Award winner, which were selected from among this year’s 24 winning achievements from 18 European countries. Due to the safety precautions against COVID-19, the European Heritage Awards Ceremony 2021 was held for some 220 attendees, but was followed live by hundreds of heritage professionals, volunteers, lovers and supporters from across Europe and beyond. The ceremony is among the highlights of the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2021 that is taking place from 21-24 September in the World Heritage City of Venice.

The 2021 Grand Prix laureates are:

  • the Wooden Church of Urși Village, Vâlcea County (Romania), a beautiful 18th century wooden church that was exemplary restored using traditional materials and techniques in a collaborative way, allowing for the exchange of ideas and knowledge amongst international participants;
  • FIBRANET – FIBRes in ANcient European Textiles (Denmark / Greece), an innovative research project that provides new knowledge about the degradation of ancient fibres, informing both archaeological practice and providing crucial knowledge for Europeans as we look for solutions for dealing with the waste produced by the fashion and textile industries;
  • the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage (Cyprus), established in 2008 by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders under the auspices of the United Nations, who has successfully restored over 70 monuments, using cultural heritage as a powerful tool for reconciliation and peaceful cooperation; as well as
  • The Invention of a Guilty Party, Trento (Italy), an exemplary exhibition that shows the relevance of a historical case of anti-Semitism to contemporary conversations around discrimination and intolerance in today’s Europe, stimulating critical reflection on the power of propaganda and fake news.

The Grand Prix laureates, chosen by the Board of Europa Nostra on recommendation by an independent jury of experts, will receive €10,000 each. (Read below to learn more about these outstanding European heritage achievements that received a Grand Prix).

The remarkable rehabilitation of the Wooden Church of Urși Village (Romania) is the big winner of 2021: it received a Grand Prix and the general public selected it as their favourite heritage project in Europe. Some 7,000 citizens from all over Europe voted for the Public Choice Award online via the Europa Nostra website.

“I warmly congratulate the impressive winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2021 for their success and remarkable contributions to our Europe of Culture. The far-reaching impact of the winners illustrate the invaluable contribution of Europe’s cultural heritage to our society, economy and the environment. 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 despite the challenges we are faced with. I hope these Awards will help your excellent projects thrive and play an even more important role in the recovery of our Europe,” said Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.  

In a congratulatory message, David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, stated: “I would like to congratulate the 24 winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2021. Each of you has made a contribution to the protection, enhancement and promotion of our rich cultural heritage and to the common building of Europe’s future. The European Green Deal, our external relations, the future of Europe naturally pass through our identity. So, let me express my appreciation and thanks for your commitment.”

After such a long time of being physically apart, it has been an immense joy to meet and celebrate our Award winners in the iconic monastic complex of the Giorgio Cini Foundation on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. Each one of our winners compellingly demonstrates the potential of our shared cultural heritage to help build a more resilient, more inclusive and more beautiful Europe. On behalf of the large Europa Nostra family, I wholeheartedly congratulate our laureates for being the proud recipients of Europe’s top honour in the heritage field. May these Awards be stepping stones to upscale your success and inspire heritage professionals and enthusiasts in Europe and beyond,” stated Prof. Dr. Hermann Parzinger, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

The European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards were launched by the European Commission in 2002 and have been run by Europa Nostra – the European Voice of Civil Society Committed to Cultural and Natural Heritage – ever since. The Awards have the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

 During the ceremony, the two winners of the ILUCIDARE Special Prizes 2021 were also unveiled:

1) HAP4MARBLE − Marble Conservation by Hydroxyapatite (Italy), for excellence in heritage-led innovation; and

2) EU-LAC Museums − Museums, Community & Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean (United Kingdom), for excellence in heritage-led international relations (read related separate press release).

The winners of the ILUCIDARE Special Prizes were selected by the ILUCIDARE Consortium, including Europa Nostra, from among the submitted applications to the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2021. ILUCIDARE is a project funded by Horizon 2020 with the aim of establishing an international network promoting heritage as a resource for innovation and international relations.

The European Heritage Awards Ceremony was enhanced by exceptional musical performances prepared by our invaluable partner, the European Union Youth Orchestra. The masters of ceremony were Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, and Alberto Toso Fei, renowned Italian journalist, writer and historian.

The ceremony is one of the main events of the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2021. The Summit is organised by Europa Nostra – the European Voice of Civil Society Committed to Cultural Heritage – with the support of the European Union and in collaboration with other European and Italian partners. The Summit is held under the patronage of the European Parliament, the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU and the Italian Ministry of Culture. The Summit contributes to two key citizen-driven initiatives launched by the EU institutions, namely the New European Bauhaus and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

 

2021 Grand Prix Winners – Category Conservation

 

Wooden Church of Urși Village, Vâlcea County, ROMANIA (also winner of the Public Choice Award) 

The local community of the small village of Urși worked with many experts and volunteers to recover this beautiful 18th century wooden church for generations to come. Interdisciplinarity and international cooperation has secured the church’s future and reinvigorated its remarkable painted decorations.

The church, dedicated to the Annunciation and the Archangel Michael, was built between 1757 and 1784. Though it survived a fire in 1838, after which it was repaired and decorated with frescoes, the church was later abandoned. On its rediscovery in 2007, the church lay without a foundation and was at risk of collapse. The frescoes, painted in the Post-Byzantine tradition with Western influences and of remarkable artistic value, faced serious decay.

From 2009 to 2020, the restoration works took place each summer following months of fundraising efforts in the preceding year. The main partners involved were the Pro Patrimonio Foundation, the Art Conservation and Restoration Department of the National Arts University of Bucharest, the ASTRA Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization, the National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering “IRASM”, the National Chamber of Romanian ArchitectsAsociația 37 and the owner of the church, the Romanian Orthodox Church. The funding for the project was provided by the International Music and Art Foundation, the World Monuments Fund, the Headley TrustHolcim Romania, online crowdfunding and the European Investment Bank Institute along with several private donors.

 

Category Research

FIBRANET – FIBRes in ANcient European Textiles, DENMARK/GREECE

This project investigated the fibres used in textile production in Europe from prehistory to the Roman Empire and created a tool that can be used to aid European textile studies. The Open Access database FIBRANET provides information on diverse textile fibres and is supported by bibliographical information and data on how these are affected in an archaeological burial context. This innovative research has deepened knowledge in material analysis of ancient fibres and revealed information on fibres that had never been studied before. This new knowledge on how textiles deteriorate will also inform European policy on tackling the negative environmental effects of textile waste.

FIBRANET was carried out in partnership with 8 institutions: CTR/UCPH, the host institution; Core Facility for Integrated Microscopy (CFIM/UCPH), the Directorate of Conservation of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, the School of Conservation of the University of West Attica, the National Centre for Scientific Research (NCSR) “Demokritos”, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, the Danish Royal School of Conservation and the University of Warsaw, for the dissemination of outcomes through workshops and other educational activities. As a Marie Skłodowska-Curie action, the project was funded by several EU mechanisms.

 

Category Dedicated Service to Heritage by Organisations & Individuals

 Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, CYPRUS

The Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage was established in 2008 by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders under the auspices of the United Nations. It has restored over 70 monuments of great historical, archaeological and religious importance, such as the famous monastery of Apostolos Andreas in the Northern part of Cyprus, the Othello Tower and the city walls of Famagusta. The Committee’s work centres cultural heritage as a powerful tool for peaceful cooperation and for the creation of a climate of reconciliation.

The education of younger generations of Cypriots has been central to the mission of the Committee. An interactive educational programme, including site-visits of ongoing conservation work, gives young people the opportunity to share in the knowledge and experience of restoration experts. More than 2,000 participants have taken part in guided tours to ongoing projects or attended presentations organised by Committee members.

In support of its relentless efforts, the Committee has received funding mainly from the European Union, but also from other donors, such as the Church of Cyprus, the EVKAF Administration, the USAID, the Holy See, the A.G. Leventis Foundation and local funding, channelled through the UNDP, which also offers technical assistance and oversees the implementation of the projects.

 

Category Education, Training and Awareness-raising

The Invention of a Guilty Party, Trento, ITALY

In 1475, Trento was witness to the death of two-year old Simone resulting in the conviction of three Jewish families for ‘ritual murder’ on the basis of confessions obtained under torture and strenghtend by anti-Jewish propaganda. Simonino da Trento was subsequently worshipped as a martyr well into the mid-20th century. However, the re-examination of the court documents in 1965 led to the Church’s abolition of the cult.

The exemplary exhibition The Invention of a Guilty Party: The case of little Simone of Trento from propaganda to history sheds light on this historical episode that left a deep mark on the history of Trento. The work admiringly stimulates critical reflection on the construction of a hostile “other”; the spread of intolerant behaviour towards people of differing race, religion or culture, stoked by prejudice and stereotypes; and the power of propaganda and fake news.

The exhibition was organised by Museo Diocesano Tridentino and is based on extensive research in collaboration with the Dipartimento di Lettere e Filosofia, the Facoltà di Giurisprudenza of the University of Trento, the Archivio Diocesano Tridentino and the Fondazione Museo Storico of Trento. The project was funded by the Autonomous Province of Trento, the Fondazione Caritro and the Comune di Trento. 

 

Background

European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards

 The European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards were launched by the European Commission in 2002 and have been run by Europa Nostra ever since. This Awards programme has the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. The Awards highlight and disseminate heritage excellence and best practices, encourage the cross-border exchange of knowledge and connect heritage stakeholders in wider networks. The Awards bring major benefits to the winners, such as greater (inter)national exposure, follow-on funding and increased visitor numbers. In addition, the Awards programme fosters a greater care for our shared heritage amongst Europe’s citizens. The Awards are therefore a key tool to promote the multiple values of cultural and natural heritage for Europe’s society, economy and environment. For additional facts and figures about the Awards, please visit www.europeanheritageawards.eu/facts-figures.

Europa Nostra

Europa Nostra is the European voice of civil society committed to safeguarding and promoting cultural and natural heritage. A pan-European federation of heritage NGOs, supported by a wide network of public bodies, private companies and individuals, it covers more than 40 countries. Founded in 1963, it is today recognised as the largest and the most representative heritage network in Europe. Europa Nostra campaigns to save Europe’s endangered monuments, sites and landscapes, in particular through the 7 Most Endangered Programme. Europa Nostra actively contributes to the definition and implementation of European strategies and policies related to heritage, through a participatory dialogue with European Institutions and the coordination of the European Heritage Alliance. Europa Nostra was the EU’s key civil society partner during the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018. It also figures among the first official partners of the New European Bauhaus initiative recently launched by the European Commission.

Creative Europe 

Creative Europe is the EU programme that supports the cultural and creative sectors, enabling them to increase their contribution to jobs and growth. With a budget of €2.4 billion for 2021-2027, it supports organisations in the fields of heritage, performing arts, fine arts, interdisciplinary arts, publishing, film, TV, music, and video games as well as tens of thousands of artists, cultural and audiovisual professionals.

ILUCIDARE

ILUCIDARE is a European Union funded project which promotes heritage as a resource for innovation and international cooperation. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No821394.

The ILUCIDARE Special Prizes, awarded within the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards, aim to demonstrate that cultural heritage is a powerful resource for strengthening international exchange and collaboration and driving innovation-led sustainable development. Being co-funded by the Creative Europe and the Horizon 2020 programmes, the ILUCIDARE Special Prizes are a concrete example of how synergies can be built among EU programmes to enhance their impact.

 


Read also The Wooden Church of Urși laureate at the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2021


Mass media selection

A doua Românie min 14:00 – TVR International

Premiile Europa Nostra 2021 recompensează Fundaţia Pro Patrimonio – Radio France Internaţional

Biserica de lemn din satul Urși, de la colaps la model exemplar, laureat european. O microistorie (2009–2020) – Revista Zeppelin

„Nobelul pentru patrimoniu“, câştigat de o biserică din România. Istoria Bisericii de lemn Urşi din Vâlcea VIDEO – Adevărul Râmnicu Vâlcea

Proiectul de conservare a Bisericii de lemn din Urși – marele câștigător al Premiilor Europene pentru Patrimoniu – Cultura la Dubă

Biserica de lemn din satul Urși, Vâlcea: marele câștigător al Premiilor Europene pentru Patrimoniu 2021 – Radio Romania Oltenia – Craiova

Wooden Churches of Northern Oltenia and Southern Transylvania – World Monument Fund

Une église en bois de Roumanie primée aux Prix européens du patrimoine 2021 – Le Petit Journal

Rencontre avec Pro Patrimonio, la fondation lauréate du Grand Prix Europa Nostra – Le Petit Journal

 

Re-consecration action

Re-consecration action

On July 4, 2021 took place the re-consecration of the wooden church, a historical monument, dedicated to the Feast of Annunciation and the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The large turnout showed us once again how much we need positive examples and how important the strength of the local community can be.

We rejoiced together with the parish priest Șerban Constantin Valeriu, the village people and the local officials the success of saving the church, as well as the award obtained in the European Heritage Awards 2021 / Europa Nostra Awards.

Thank you to all those who have been with us during our 10 years of intervention!

At the same time, Europa Nostra sent us the bronze plaque certifying the European Heritage Award 2021 / Europa Nostra Award for the Wooden Church in Urși. This will be taken to the community to the great delight of the villagers and the growing number of visitors.

Invitation.

At the same time, Europa Nostra sent us the bronze plaque certifying the European Heritage Award 2021 / Europa Nostra Award for the Wooden Church in Urși. This will be taken to the community to the great delight of the villagers and the growing number of visitors.

 

 

The Wooden Church of Urși laureate at the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2021

The Wooden Church of Urși laureate at the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2021

25 Mai 2021

Today the European Commission and Europa Nostra have just announced the 2021 winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards, the EU prize for cultural heritage funded by the Creative Europe programme. This year, Europe’s top honour in the heritage field goes to 24 exemplary achievements from 18 European countries.

Among this year’s winners is the Wooden Church of Urși Village, Vâlcea County, (România), laureate project in the Conservation category, designed and coordinated by the Pro Patrimonio Foundation.

The Award winners were selected by independent juries composed of heritage experts from across Europe, upon evaluation of candidatures submitted by organisations and individuals from 30 European countries.

Press Release – Wooden Church URSI Romania winner at European Heritage Awards-Europa Nostra Awards 2021

2021 Award Winners

(The winners are listed alphabetically by country)

Category Conservation

Category Research

Category Dedicated Service to Heritage by Organisations & Individuals

Category Education, Training and Awareness-raising

IMPORTANT: Heritage supporters and enthusiasts from across the world are now encouraged to discover the winners and vote online to decide who will win this year’s Public Choice Award. The Public Choice Award winner will be announced during the European Heritage Awards Ceremony, which will take place in the autumn of this year. The Grand Prix laureates, each of whom will receive a monetary award of €10,000, will also be made public on this occasion.

Importance

 

This wooden church, found in the cemetery of the small village of Urși, has been carefully restored with the close involvement of many partners including the local community. “This is the outcome of an exemplary interdisciplinary conservation of a painted wooden church in a rural setting. Made from materials from its surrounding landscape, it is of outstanding value and beauty”, the Jury said. 

The main partners involved were the Pro Patrimonio Foundation, the Art Conservation and Restoration Department of the National Arts University of Bucharest, the ASTRA Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization, the National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering “IRASM”, the National Chamber of Romanian Architects, Asociația 37 and the owner of the church, the Romanian Orthodox Church.

The project would not have been possible without the voluntary work of Urși’s community, who provided food, accommodation, access to electricity, labour and transportation, as well as the in-kind work from national and international volunteers who helped with the conservation works. The funding for the project was provided by the International Music and Art Foundation, the World Monuments Fund, the Headley Trust, Holcim Romania, online crowdfunding and the European Investment Bank Institute along with several private donors.

The Wooden Church of Urși Village, dedicated to the Annunciation and the Archangel Michael, was built between 1757 and 1784. Though it survived a fire in 1838, after which it was repaired and decorated with frescoes in 1843, the church was later abandoned following the construction of a new church in the village. On its rediscovery in 2007, the church lay without a foundation and was at risk of collapse while its shingle roof was in urgent need of repair. The frescoes, painted in the Post-Byzantine tradition with Western influences and of remarkable artistic value, faced serious decay. In 2009, the church of Urși was included in the “60 Wooden Churches programme” in Romania by the Pro Patrimonio Foundation, and thus later nominated to the 7 Most Endangered programme 2014.

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: “This is an example of vulnerable architecture and an endangered monument that has been restored fully in accordance with conservation principles, with the original elements closely examined and reintegrated wherever possible. Sustainability was also central to the project, with trees planted to provide materials for future restoration work”.

The restoration site itself was an open one, functioning as an educational space to raise awareness about the value of the church, its wooden construction technique, the fresco technique and the content of the mural iconography, icons and iconostasis.

The conservation of the Wooden Church of Urși took place in a remote area, with limited resources and with the close involvement of local society. Over the course of the project, many opportunities for the exchange of knowledge were created. The project also led to a deeper local understanding of the value of the heritage and a sense of stewardship among the local community. This is an exemplary approach to the conservation of vulnerable buildings such as this one”, the Jury stated.

“Tenacity, consistency of thought and a relationship built around a goal might after all be one of the reasons why such a project could be promoted and rewarded in some way. Probably there are many places and many objects of this kind, rich architectures, but this one made there and intervened upon is a sensitive point as an acupunctural gesture applied to a territory and that can probably influence a much wider area and from this point of view perhaps heals a society” – arch. Șerban Sturdza, President of Pro Patrimonio Foundation.

“The restoration of the wooden church in Urși village is the result of a salutary initiative dedicated to saving a unique category in the configuration of European rural heritage: small Romanian wooden churches painted in fresco. Respect for heritage, professionalism, responsible involvement, assumption of site conditions, in a steadfast solidarity, a mobilizing sense of urgency, have governed the teams of young volunteers and restorers in operations whose scope and difficulty have reached surprising performances”.- Dan Mohanu, Prof. PhD, Director of the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art, National University of Arts in Bucharest, at the beginning of the project.

Numbers

264 years of history

Built between 1757 and 1784/ painted in 1843

Discovered in 2009 in poor state of structural pre-collapsing

11 years of the restoration process/ 1 June 2009 – 7 August 2020

Outstanding European heritage

Wall frescoe of remarkable artistic quality

250 people involved including 102 national and international volunteers

1 architectural survey; 31 technical drawings; 1 emergency intervention for temporary protection and conservation, restoration of the wooden church in Urși; interior and exterior religious fresco restoration (82 sqm interior, 40 sqm exterior frescos); 15 icons and 5 pieces of religious furniture restored;

20 diploma projects on the mural painting; 6 professional communications at national conferences and another 3 at international conferences); 1 professional publication (a guide)

Budget about 132,000 Euros, only private funding

International impact and support: World Monuments Watch 2014 and The Seven Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe 2014

Fresco restoration workshop in Urși, 2017

Fresco restoration workshop in Urși, 2017

For several years an average of 30 to 40 volunteers gets involved in the building worksite for the church in Urși, Vâlcea county. From June till October groups of 7-8 restorers and students work on the conservation of the frescoes. We dedicated a whole week- for the first time in 2007 – to volunteers from abroad with the goal to encourage cultural tourism and promote the outstanding value of the church and of the local cultural landscape. 7 volunteers from the National Trust UK with varying ages and occupations spent a week working on the conservation of interior frescoes under the supervision of Ana Chiricuță assisted by Andrei Dumitrescu, professional art restorers.

The necessary funds were donated by private people and organizations, the most important sponsors being World Monuments Fund and The local community (the parish, townhall as well as the townspeople) support the project and offer each year lodging and meals to all volunteers and craftsmen working to preserve the village wooden church.

Site log, 10 years of restoration

Site log, 10 years of restoration

The beginning. The discovery. The first ideas and friends of the wooden church of Urși

“In 2007, after three years of field research of heritage in its various forms, I outlined a project that was meant to highlight the cultural and artistic links on the two slopes of the Carpathians, namely from Gorj/Vâlcea and Sibiu/Hunedoara. The first sequence was built around the wooden churches north and south of the Carpathians. After making an inventory of the churches in the two areas, checking the official lists against the reality on the ground (some of them no longer exist on the field, others do not appear in the list, although they are valuable), noting the preservation status of most of the churches, and the urgency of saving some of them, as well as the inability of a small group of persons to undertake such an endeavour, together with our collaborator at the time, the Dala Foundation, I further told the story of the wooden churches to Şerban STURDZA, the then President of Ordinul Arhitecților din România (Order of Architects in Romania). This has led to the development of the project entitled 60 de biserici.

One of the most impressive stories was that of the hidden church discovered in the cemetery of the village of Urși in Vâlcea, a church without a foundation, propped up so that it does not crumble, featuring a painting of remarkable artistic value for the group of rarely painted wooden churches located south of the Carpathians.

The photographer Şerban BONCIOCAT is the one who has showed it to me on one of our documentation travels for the monthly column on heritage published in the Igloo magazine, and I am grateful to him for that stop because that was the beginning of both what was to be the album dedicated to the wooden churches in northern Oltenia, and the extensive project initiated by the OAR and Pro Patrimonio.” – Luiza ZAMORA, art historian, Asociația 37

The surroundings. Value of the landscape

There are still many wooden churches spread in the hilly area at the foot of the Southern Carpathians – to the south and north. Most of them date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, some of them being even older. The majority appear in the List of Historic Monuments in Romania. It is the southernmost region in Europe, where wood and the blockbau technique (jointed horizontal beams) were used for cult buildings. The churches in northern Oltenia and southern Transylvania are modest in size, yet they preserve the authenticity of the craftsmanship and local values.

As a whole, the hundreds of churches spread in a relatively small area define a valuable cultural landscape. The similarities, but also the differences, give importance to the whole and outline the specificity and identity of the area. It is estimated that the 60-100 churches documented from 2009 to date amount to about 2000 sq.m. of mural paintings (al secco or al fresco). For the sake of comparison, the vault of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican has 1000 sq.m.

The specificity. The uniqueness

Besides the family of wooden churches of which it is part, the church in the village of Urși is located near some places that are very valuable for our identity and spirituality: the fortified mansions (in Romanian: “cula”) in Măldăreşti, Mânăstirea de la Govora (the Govora Monastery), Mânăstirea de la Hurezi (The Hurezi Monastery) already listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage list, Mânăstirea Dintr-un Lemn (The One Wood Monastery) or the Buila-Vânturariţa National Park, a site of the European Ecologic Network Nature 2000. Also, the entire sub-Carpathian area is dotted with painted crosses, which are traditionally erected at crossroads. Beautiful crosses are also erected next to wells in memory of events or people meaning something for that place.

10 years of work. Schedule of actions

Each of the ten years of working at the wooden church of Urși followed a very clear pattern: fundraising and design, a four-month period of actual work during the summer. Although this pattern has resulted in long intervention timeframes, it has proven to be the only sustainable one considering that the financial support consisted entirely of private funds from donors as well as institutions such as the World Monuments Funds or private companies.

A succinct annual schedule of works gives us the picture of a complex restoration process bringing together specialists and locals likewise.

2009
church documentation begins
the vault of the church collapses
the emergency response campaign is initiated
the protective structure is erected, and the vault is dismantled

2010-2011
the restoration project is carried out
the first funds required for the intervention are raised
the iconostasis is dismantled and Universitatea Națională de Arte București (The National Arts University of Bucharest) starts the restoration of the icons

2012
the restoration of the iconostasis is completed, and it is brought back to the village
an exhibition and a concert are organized on the occasion of the presentation of the restored iconostasis
the fresco is secured in order for structural repair work to be carried out

2013
the church is raised and new foundations are being built
the archaeological investigation is carried out (a jug filled with coins is found!)
the wooden sole plates and all damaged wooden beams are repaired and replaced
oak trees are planted with a view to secure wood for repairs required in 100 years

2014
the painting on the vault beams is restored

2015
the vault and the roof are reinstalled

2016
the exterior painting is restored
the interior flooring is rehabilitated
the interior furniture is repaired

2017
the interior painting in the altar is restored
the bell tower in the cemetery is refurbished

2018-2019
the interior painting in the nave is restored

The iconostasis – removal and restauration

The iconostasis – removal and restauration

Between 2010 and 2011, a protective structure for the church is being created with Cella Cosimex and the architect Șeban Cantacuzino’s support, by means of disassembling the ruined roof and vault. Framing elements are inventorized and stored in a shed built outside of the cemetery. Damaged or unstable components are also take out of the arch.

SC OPUS- Architecture workshop SRL from Bucharest takes care of the technical documentation necessary for the approval of restoration works.
The initial funding for the intervention is gathered with the support of the Romanian Architect Order, SONORO and other organisations.
The iconostasis is dismantled and the icon restoration works begin at the National University of Arts in Bucharest. After repairs are made, the iconostasis is brought back in the village and presented during an exhibition and a concert. Until the consolidation of the church is finished, the iconostasis is stored in the new brick church.

New foundations and repair of the wooden structure

New foundations and repair of the wooden structure

It was in 2013 that the most widespread intervention was possible: the church was erected, the foundations were built, and the damaged beams were replaced and completed. For this purpose, the Astra Museum recommended a team of craftsmen from Maramures with whom most volunteers worked: 6 series of 8 volunteers (in addition to craftsmen).
For the soles on which the church was placed, 10 oaks were brought from Botosani, as the local area couldn’t provide the oak to the required size. For this reason, in the following autumn, an oak planting campaign was launched attended by the volunteers having worked during summer. 50 oaks were planted in the schoolyard and in the church neighborhood so that there should be local raw material in 300 years time.
Moreover, 2013 was the year when the Pro Patrimonio Foundation team took the necessary steps to introduce the Church in Ursi to the World Monuments Fund – Watch List program The World Monuments Fund international organization included the wooden churches in Northern Oltenia and Southern Transylvania in the Watch 2014 program as recognition of the imminent danger threatening these heritage buildings and in recognition of their cultural and economic value for the sustainable development of communities .

Alexandru Tomescu violin recital at Ursi

Alexandru Tomescu violin recital at Ursi

In August 2013, a charity concert followed, generously offered by violinist Alexandru Tomescu in the very interior of the church at the construction site to raise funds for restoration

In addition, in 2013, an exhibition and a lecture were organized at Casa Mincu/Micu Residence, which highlighted, with the support of architect Mariana Celac (†), the importance of direct involvement in the rescue process.

Watch Day 2014 at the church in Urși

Watch Day 2014 at the church in Urși

In 2014, with the support of World Monuments Fund Watch day, the international event dedicated to historical monuments was organized, a biennial cultural heritage celebration bringing together people around dozens of sites around the world. The wooden churches in southern Transylvania and northern Oltenia were included on the list of Europe’s 7 most endangered heritage sites in the same year. On this occasion, Pro Patrimonio Foundation organized a Watch Day event in the village of Urși, Vâlcea County, to attract attention to an almost unknown architectural heritage site. A Museum of the Wooden Church was inaugurated in Urși with the exhibition ”The Wooden Church in Urși : Re-establishing its place within the community”.

Reinstallment of the vault and roof

Reinstallment of the vault and roof

In 2015, a number of activities took place at the restortion site Ursi wooden church. A campaign promoting the project took place at the same time, in order to inform the public of the importance of such a monument.

During the first half of 2015, the painted beams from the wooden church in Ursi were transported to the National University of Arts in Bucharest and restoration works were coordinated by Prof. Dan Mohanu and two young artists, Ana Chiricuță and Laura Hangiu. These two recieved scholarships from Pro Patrimonio over the entirety on their time working on the church.

Between 1st and 2nd of July, Casa Mincu in Bucharest hosted an exhibition for the licence works of some students from the National University of Arts, the topic being the vault paintings of the wooden church in Ursi.

Restoration works were conducted over the summer to coat the remaining beams at the Ursi site in biocide substances, different parts of the vault fresco were restored and repairs to pieces of the wooden vault were made.

An event of great importance happended during autumn, when the vault and wooden roof were reassembled and parts of the fresco were secured/reinforced on the walls. The roof with wooden shingles was completed and the superior part of the temporary structure was removed. It was decided to keep the lower part of the protective temporary structure to prevent the degradation of the outer fresco, before it can also be reinforced.

Tablou activitati Reinstallment of the vault and roof

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