Wooden church in Bejan
Located in the inner courtyard of the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant
entrance from Monetăriei Street
Probably built at the end of the 18th century, the wooden church of Bejan (Hunedoara), dedicated to Saint Nicholas, served as a place of worship for the community until 1947, when a new brick church was built and no more services were held. Tradition mentions that, as with many wooden churches in Transylvania, the building was moved either from Valea Bradului or Luncșoara.
The church was renovated in 1934 and 1962. In 1991, when it was discovered by Horia Bernea (director of the Peasant Museum between 1990 and 2000) and the museum’s specialists, it was in a state of serious deterioration and on the verge of collapse. The Museum of the Romanian Peasant, like the other wooden churches it owns (Groșii Noi, Julița, Troaș – Arad county; Lunca Moților – Hunedoara county), undertook the mission of rescue and restoration. The church was moved to the inner courtyard of the museum in 1992, and a year later, on the occasion of the Easter holidays, it was inaugurated and consecrated. In addition to its original name – Saint Nicholas – it was given the name of Saint Mina, patron saint of the treasures and therefore of the museum.
The walls of the church are made in the technique of the wedge of beams, of oak wood carved with a four-sided axe, joined at the corners in a dovetail. Typologically, the church falls into the category of axial constructions being from west to east composed of a pronaos, naos and altar with a spire on the pronaos.
The square-shaped spire with a pyramidal roof is not the original one. Research (traces of holes in the beams supporting the steeple’s stilts) shows that the original steeple was demolished (it was larger horizontally) and replaced by the present, much better-proportioned steeple.
Access to the interior of the church is from the south side, through the pronaos. The wall between the pronaos and the nave has a central passageway, flanked by a side passageway with railings, from where women and girls attended the service, being called in Transylvania the women’s hall.
The square-shaped nave has small windows, two on the south side and one on the north side; it has a semicircular vault made of fir wood that served as a support for the painting, which has deteriorated over time due to infiltrations from the roof. The polygonal altar has three windows. The simple aspen floors on oak beams are probably a late appearance replacing the old clay floor.
In spite of its simplicity, the architectural decoration, execution and proportions are clear evidence of a plan drawn up by craftsmen with a wealth of experience, and are an outstanding example of good and beautiful popular religious architecture.