Putna: Europe’s oldest wooden church

Few tourists who visit Romania’s legendary Putna monastery know that the silent little wooden church they pass by to get there, just 1 kilometre away, is Europe’s oldest wooden church. Built around 1350, this is the oldest and the only medieval wooden church known so far in Romania. Although modest and almost forgotten compared to other legendary religious edifices in the country, its remarkable age and archaic plan make it priceless.

According to specialists and historians, the wooden church of Putna was actually built in Volovăţ, another locality in the region, during the reign of Dragoş Vodă, in the mid XIV century, but was relocated by Ştefan cel Mare, Moldova’s best-known ruler and iconic character in Romania’s history. The aura of legend that grew in time around the now famous Putna monastery seems to come from this little, modest-looking wooden church said to have hosted once the tomb of the legendary ruler Dragoş Vodă.

The age of the church was established in 2003, after Romanian architect Alexander Baboş took 16 samples from different old parts of the structure. These samples were analyzed by Swedish specialist Hans Linderson at the Laboratory of dendrochronology in Lund, Sweden.

Just like many other wooden religious edifices in the country, the old wooden church is currently facing several dangers – the main ones are the xylophagous insects, moulder and moisture – requiring urgent conservation and restoration works, currently postponed due to lack of funds.

How to get there

The wooden church in Putna or Dragoş Vodă’s church is located in the cemetery of Putna village in Suceava County, in the Moldavian region of Romania. As you cross the village on road 2H, the wooden church is on the right side of the road, one kilometre before the Putna Monastery (located on the left side).

By car: Road E85: Bucharest – Urziceni – Buzău – Focşani – Bacău – Suceava – Slobozia Sucevei; road 2H: Slobozia Sucevei – Rădăuţi – Vîlcovu de Jos – Putna