Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Chotyniec
The wooden temple was built before 1615. It is a log construction. The original mass of the building consists of three parts: matroneum, nave, and sanctuary. Their large, spherical domes stand on octagonal bases. They are crowned with turrets and forged crosses. The walls of the church are surrounded by roofed arcades, the so-called soboty. The domes, the walls over the soboty, and their roofing are all covered with shingles. In the walls under the roof, we can see thick structural beams. The matroneum is preceded by a wooden vestibule covered with metal. It was added to the seventeenth-century building at the beginning of the 20th century.
The matroneum was built on a square-like plan with sides about four and a half meters long. It is covered by a shingle roof with a dome rising from above it. At the height of the first floor, the matroneum is surrounded by a gallery. It is accessed from the ground floor via external wooden stairs without a railing on the southern wall. The gallery is protected by a balustrade made of boards that are covered with shingles from the outside. Along the sides of the gallery, there are wooden vertical beams supporting the roof. Between their upper parts, we can see some charming wooden arches. From the gallery, you enter the chapel (the first floor). The doors leading to the chapel are located in the middle of the western wall.
The nave is the largest and highest part of the temple. It was built on a square-like plan with sides six meters long.
The sanctuary, on the other hand, is the smallest and lowest part. At the junction with the nave, it is four meters wide, and three meters wide in the eastern part closed on three sides.
The original building captivates with its harmonious proportions. The spherical domes are very close to each other, as if they are cuddling.
To the right of the entrance, there is a wooden bell tower, which comes from the 17th century. It was moved here from the neighboring village of Torki in 1993. The church area is surrounded by slender deciduous trees and a wooden fence.
The local Greek Catholic population suffered during Operation Vistula. However, in 1990, the temple returned to its original owner and the Greek Catholic parish, which is still thriving, was revived.
The height of the matroneum: 13 m
The width of the matroneum: 4.5 m
The height of the nave:16 m
The width of the nave: approx. 6 m
The height of the sanctuary: 11.5 m
The width of the sanctuary: 4m (at its widest point)
The polychrome in the church in Chotyniec
The polychrome depicting the Last Judgment covers the entire southern wall of the temple’s nave. It was created in 1735. It is about 6 meters high and wide. The wall also has two rectangular windows and a door.
The painting shows multiple human figures, angels, demons, and monsters. They are arranged in several horizontal layers. Such a composition is a symbolic representation of apocalyptic content. At the very top, we have the sky with the central figure of Christ and a crowd of honorable figures on both sides. Below, there is a row with figures of angels. Below that, we can see a crowd of people, as well as several demons and angels. This part is divided into two zones. On the right hand side of Christ is the zone of the saved, on the left – of the damned. In the center, we have the figure of Saint Michael. At the very bottom, there are figures of people rising from their graves. The painting is quite well preserved. Some fragments, however, have become blurred. Different colors were used, with white, red, blue, and green dominating the composition.
In the middle of the highest row, we can see Christ Pantocrator sitting on a rainbow arch. His naked torso is surrounded by a red cloak blowing in the wind. The Savior with a serene expression is raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing. His is surrounded by angels. Some are holding the symbols of the Passion of the Christ: a chalice, a ladder, a crown of thorns, a hammer and nails. To his right, we can see the Virgin Mary, kneeling by his side, and on the left – Saint John the Baptist. Behind them, we can see the Apostles, Prophets of the Old Testament, and Martyrs sitting among the clouds, including Moses who is holding the two Tablets of Stone. Some are holding their attributes – the instruments of their martyrdom. Here is Saint Paul with a sword and Saint Catherine who was sentenced to be executed on the breaking wheel she is holding.
In the center of the lower row, we have an angel. He is carrying a large cross. His green robe is blowing in the wind. His spread wings are glistening white. Other angels are blowing trumpets on both sides.
The next row is dominated by the proud silhouette of St. Michael Archangel. He is wearing a colorful robe. He is holding a sword in his raised right hand, and in his left hand – he is weighing human deeds. On Michael’s right hand side, we can see a crowd of naked human figures. They are walking towards heavenly salvation awaiting them behind the Strait Gate. They are being led by several angels. On Michael’s left hand side, there is a crowd of the accursed departing into hell. They are being herded by a pack of black tailed demons with horns on their heads. Their hands and feet are ended with terrifying claws. On the back, they have membranous wings and a dangling tail. The damned sinners are dying in the gaping black mouth of the whale-monster Leviathan, or the Jaws of Hell (Hellmouth). The head of the beast is shown in profile with its jaws open and the red heat emanating from them. It is swallowing the helpless naked wretches who are being pulled down by raging demons.
The bottom row shows people rising from their graves. The naked bodies are emerging from the pits and from under the tombstones. We can see the kneeling Death among them – a human skeleton wearing a cloak. Death has a radiant smile on its face. Elsewhere, we can see a long-haired woman with round breasts crawling out from under the tombstone on all fours.
In the lower left corner of the painting, i.e. on the side of salvation, there is also a figure of an angel. It is wearing a green robe and a white cloak. Its white wings are outspread. The angel is carefully holding the hand of a man rising from the grave. However, the rest of his silhouette has been blurred.
Panotour – Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Chotyniec