On September 23, 2021 at the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice, during the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2021, representatives of the European Commission and Europa Nostra announced the four Grand Prix winners and the winner of the Public Choice Award. The wooden church from Urși village, Vâlcea county, Romania, a conservation project developed by the Pro Patrimonio Foundation for over 10 years, is the big winner of 2021. Also, this project was selected by the general public as the most appreciated heritage project in Europe, taking the Public Choice Award.
On 25 May 2021, the European Commission and Europa Nostra nominated the Wooden Church in the village of Urși, Valcea County (Romania), as the winning project in the Conservation category of the 2021 edition of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards, the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage funded by the Creative Europe programme.
The wooden church in the village of Urși is part of the project 60 de biserici de lemn(60 Wooden Churches) conducted by Pro Patrimonio Foundation, which had over the course of time the following partners: National Arts University of Bucharest, Order of Romanian Architects, Asociația 37, Dala Foundation, Astra Museum in Sibiu, Artis Periția and the financial support was due to the international organization World Monuments Fund, Headley Trust, International Music and Art Foundation, Holcim Romania, European Investment Bank Institute.
Since the beginning of the project up to now 14 emergency interventions, 10 complete wooden shingles replacements, 8 restorings were made, 50 wooden churches have been documented (through architectural relevees) and two conserving projects have been prepared with the assistance of Europa Nostra, intending to apply for financing. The high value mural painting (fresco or al secco) comprises 2000 m2 . Almost 30 churches are painted inside. Extensive emergency or conservation work have been matched by public events, fundraising concerts and exhibitions, which were designed to highlight the wooden church and to revive the interest of the communities in these patrimonial jewels.
Its restoration began on the 12 th of June 2010, a following the collapse of the vault over the altar, with an emergency intervention initiated by the Order of the Architects of Romania and Pro Patrimonio foundation in 2000. The actual time of intervention on the monument, due to the specific of the restoration activities, is four months a year, from June until September. For the rest of the time, the foundation concentrates on activities of fundraising to continue the project
The funds raised through different actions and events during 2011-2019 were used for: consolidating the paintings, unfolding the arch (the beams and the iconostasis being restored at the National arts University of Bucharest), attaining of new stone basis, replacing of the bases and of the rotten beams of the structure, restoring of the arch, of the framework and of the shindel roof, conserving the interior and exterior frescos, repairing and completing the inner furniture, vertical systematization.
The money was donated exclusively by individuals, companies and private organizations to whom we thank very much: Șerban Cantacuzino (†), Cella Cosimex srl, World Monuments Fund, Headley trust, Holcim Romania, International Music and Art Foundation, Stoica and Associatesm, Carturesti Foundaion, Zeppelin Magazine. The local community (parish, city hall, the village residents) supports the project every year, offering accommodation and food to all the volunteers, the restorers and the craftsmen working here.
List of donors from the 2019 public campaign dedicated to the fresco restoration project
2019 Romanian donors: George Anghel, Răzvan Bănescu, Peter Bond, Ioana Boteanu, Marioara Condrea, Adriana Costache, Michael de Styrcea, Daniela Drăgoiu, Nora Ghenciulescu, Cristian Ghergu, Ruxandra Gîrbea, Mugur Grosu, Maria Grigore, Ilinca-Lucia Gussi, Georgina Harding, Vasile Alex Iacob, Petru Ilica, Alexandra Jitianu, Alin Alexandru Jurca, Alin Gabriel Mateescu, Irina Mateescu, Ioan Moga, George Munteanu, Iuliana Mureşanu, Valeriu Mustață, Cristian Nacu, Mugurel Paraschiv, Emmanuelle Paris, Anca Păunică, Cătălina Popa, Corina Popescu, Alina Popescu, Daniela Profit, Eliza Rogalski, Emilian Stoenică, Ioana Toma, Tudor Ion Trestieni, Nicolas Triboi, Steven van Groningen, Ioana Velescu, Cristina Zaharia.
2019 French donors on DARTAGNANS platform: Silviu Alexe, Cristina Alistar-Gabouty, Ştefan Bortnowski, Alexandru Buturugă, Şerban Cantacuzene, Anne Charneau, Guy Clausse, Roger Coignee, Mădălina Coquelle, Andrei Daneş, Genţiana Dănilă, Nathalie D’Assay, Yolande de la Porte du Theil, Clarisse Deniau, Caroline D’Estutt D’Assay, Fabrice Duffaud, Agnes Faure, Michel Ferradas, Ion Filotti, Ileana Giesen, Răzvan Gorcea, Alexandru Cristian Ionescu, Ioana Iosa, Alexandru Missirliu, Gabriel Neagu, Ioana Raileanu, Indrei Raţiu, Nicolae Raţiu, Sasha Raţiu, André Savu, Iulian Sârbu, Maria Smaranda, Cristina Sucală, Olivia Temple, Hervé Texier.
Grand Prix and Public Choice Award for Urşi Wooden Church at 2021 European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards