Turopolje is widely known for its wooden architecture. Temporal and sacral wooden buildings have the same features, the same elements and materials used, and the same rustic manner of processing applied. The only difference is that church builders had more opportunity to show their artistic abilities when decorating.
One of the distinct features of wooden churches of Turopolje, especially those built earlier, are the entrance halls that were sometimes painted. Walls and ceilings were decorated sometimes even the choir. Each of these churches also had a small tower above the entrance hall. The floor was usually made of brick, somewhere oak was used. The inventory was mostly Baroque, and sometimes a bit rustic.
A wooden chapel of St. Barbara in Velika Mlaka is the most attractive and certainly the most representative example of wooden church architecture in Croatia. The chapel was built in 1642 and reconstructed several times. The present look was given to the chapel in 1867 when a steeple was added to it, which was thoroughly restored between 1972 and 1977. This chapel is single nave with trilaterally shaped shrine next to sacristy. The chapel is richly decorated. Wooden panelling is painted with ornaments, flowers in vases and pictures of saints. Among the latter the most interesting, from iconographic point of view, is St Kummernisse with a donor M. Basarović (1759). Several masters participated in the painting of the chapel, which lasted from 1710 to 1759. The oldest layer from 1699 was destroyed. The wing altar of St Barbara (1679) features the scenes from the Saint’s life and those from the Passion of Christ. The altars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Snow from 1701 and of the Lord’s Assumption from 1759 are to be mentioned also. The bell from 1642 is the work of C. Seisser from Graz.
Wooden chapel of the Holy Apostles in Buševac was made in 1768. The interior of the chapel is pained with figures and ornaments. It features altars, chalices and mass vestments from the periods between the 17th and 19th centuries. In Pleso near the Zagreb airport is the chapel of the Wounded Christ that was built in 1758 by the widow of Ladislav Plepelić, local nobleman. Local masters restored the chapel and today people come to admire its facade decoration.
The chapel of St Anthony of Padua in Gustelnica was first mentioned in 1678, and throughout centuries it was to be restored, repaired and even built all over again. Today’s chapel was built in 1888 where previous chapels stood. Construction of the chapel of St Rocco on Cvetković hill started in 1867, but the chapel was completed in 1888.
Tradition of building in wood
The size of wooden churches in Turopolje ranges from 4 x 2 m in Gustelnica to some 18 x 6 m in Velika Mlaka. Even though the tradition of using wood as the main building material has gone well into the 20th c. only five sacral objects have been preserved. These are: the chapels in Buševac, Gustelnica, Pleso, Velika Mlaka and one on Cvetković hill. Another six churches and chapels are located in the neighbourhood but considered to be in the area that is outside the Turopolje region border what makes up the total of 11 preserved wooden sacral objects.
The biggest achivement in buildingWooden churches and chapels have stood as signs of unique value of Turopolje ever since early Middle Ages. Moreover in the 17th century when Turkish attacks were common, it was customary to rebuild in wood even those churches that originally were made of other materials.
These wooden churches and chapels are the biggest achievement of folk Baroque architecture in north Croatia.