Monuments and museums
Cultural Heritage Review
New findings in the Slavic fortress of Svätý Jur
A remarkable archaeological site spreading in the Little Carpathians mountain range, can be found above the town of Svätý Jur, on the territory of the historical part of Neštich. The locality is characterized by the remains of a large wooden-earth fortification, which extends over an area of 8.5 hectares. The earliest archaeological evidence can be carefully associated with the Bronze period, but traces of a stable settlement were not found until the Early Iron Age, when the inhabitants of the Calenderberg culture (8th – 6th century BC) built sunken (log) dwellings there. In the subsequent period of the Late Iron Age, the traces of the Celtic culture are less visible. Based on the findings from the 1st – 4th centuries AD, the Germanic tribes, most probably Quadi, built the youngest settlement in this mountainous area. The bronze copper Antonianus coin of the Emperor Probus, as well as the recent finding of silver Antonianus of Philip the Arab (Marcus Julius Philippus Augustus) are new findings that were not yet published. The most numerous evidence of people’s settlement comes from the Early Middle Ages. Regarding the strategic use of the area during the Avarian Caganate in the 8th century, several archaeological items from that era were also found in the nearby, so-called Slavic-Avarian graveyards (Vajnory, Bernolákovo). Interestingly, the border between the Slavic and Avarian caganate world was identified in the Svätý Jur area.
In the first half of the 9th century, the wooden-earth castle was more or less inhabited continuously. The remains include aboveground log houses, one larger building on a stone base and household structures. The fortified area provided protection to the local community also in the peace time. Inside the castle, craftsmen produced iron items and possibly ceramic vessels and fabrics for a wide area as well. The wreckage findings document the iron production. Particular attention should be paid to the findings of non-ferrous metals from the 9th century (bronze, sometimes gilded or silverplated). Occasionally, they used them for luxurious versions of items commonly made of iron. A rare discovery of an incomplete silver Arabic coin – Dirham – was unearthed at the castle’s acropolis. It is the first Arabic coin ever found on the territory of the former Great Moravia. It proves the flow of goods from distant parts of Asia on the Silk Road.
In 2017, the area of the 9th-century building on the stone base was researched, which indicated the existence of a local elite. They also explored the three-part wooden palace structure, built on a dry stone base, with a length of more than 22 m and width of about 5 – 7 m. The palace building was connected with the members of the important noble family of Hunt-Poznan in the 13th and 14th centuries. The origins of the family were associated with the pre-Hungarian Slavic elite. Inside the palace, numerous medieval ceramics were found in the past. The metal detector helped to reveal many items from the early Middle Ages. The younger discoveries included the silver Denar coins from the first half of the 17th century, as well as lead bullets from firearms. The findings show that Svätý Jur was a significant production and commercial centre, closely linked to important Great Moravian centres on the Danube – the castles of Preslava (Bratislava) and Dovina (Devín).
Painter Ephraim Hochhauser. The oldest member of Vienna Academy from Slovakia
Banská Bystrica native, Ephraim Hochhauser (1691? – 1771) is one of those painters whose work, due to insufficient information and lack of signatures, appears to have ended in the category globally labelled as “the work of an unknown Central European master”. The author brings information about the life of this baroque portraitist, put together through archival research in Austria. She also suggests several hypotheses about his beginnings, which are quite unclear (including the date of birth). The artist spent more than half of his life in Vienna, closely working with the Academy of Fine Arts. The author refutes the previous claim that Hochhauser became its student in 1740. However, he was evidently a member, so called Assozierter, or in simple terms – academic, with all the privileges that this status guaranteed. Not only the periodic lexicons, but also the testament and probate proceedings after the artist’s death in 1771, reveal that he was among the then renowned Viennese painters (such as Martin van Meytens, Paul Troger and Anton Maulbertsch), which also reflected his income. In addition to the signed portrait preserved in Slovakia, other of his works were found in the countries of former Habsburg monarchy: in Croatia (Museum of Fine Arts in Osijek), Moravian castle collections of Kunín and Bystré (or Polička Museum) and Austria (Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and private property).
The new information on these preserved paintings reveal that Hochhauser painted commissions for the then prominent aristocratic circles, such as the earl’s families of von Hohenembs, Prandau Hillebrand and Questenberg. He also painted portraits of the supreme commanders of the Imperial-Royal Army, field marshals of Moltke and Nádaši. So far, only two portraits deviate from this group, with which the painter was personally involved. These include the portrait of the young lady Anna Meerwaldt (Orava Gallery Dolný Kubín) dating to 1744, with whose family he was a long friend, and the self-portrait from 1754, created as an admission work for the Vienna Academy. The self-portrait is strongly inspired by the analogical works of Ján Kupecký from his Vienna period at the beginning of the 18th century, and is the best work of Hochhauser’s portraits. Here, the painter was not constrained by the client’s requirements, the need to represent. His innovation, his individual artistic style came to full force: away from the Baroque extravagance, opulence and efficiency. Instead, it is a tilt towards simplicity, a look inside the person, and peaceful introspection. Or, as captured in the 18th century dictionary: “portrait in its own style”.
It is in the best interest, that the search for other works of this unjustly, even fully forgotten portraitist continues. They are most likely to be found in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, since the artist kept in touch with his Upper-Hungarian homeland. During the targeted search in the category of “unknown Central European artist”, or “artist of the M. van Meytens circle”, more discoveries are expected.
Valley cableway station in Tatranská Lomnica
The station was built in the first section of the cableway project, running from Tatranská Lomnica village to Skalnaté Pleso mountain lake, which opened in 1937. The second section from Skalnaté Pleso to Lomnický štít peak started to run in 1940. Dušan Jurkovič, a prominent interwar Slovak architect, designed the cableway. The company of František Wiesner from Chrudim built it. The building of the valley station, the first of its kind in Slovakia, was completed in 1937. The builder Jozef Šašinka from the Tatras extended the station from 1942 to 1943. It was damaged by the retreating German troops in January 1945 to the extent that a new station had to be built. Based on the preserved archival sources, the building was rebuilt after the war by Wiesner company according to Dušan Jurkovič’s plans with new layout changes. This second construction corrected the faults of the first building, which could only be revealed after the trial of the cableway’s running. The rebuilding of Jurkovič’s plans only confirmed the quality of his original architectural design. The change in the building’s layout and structure, preserved to this day, did not affect the value of his design from 1936. The cableway was a pioneering, ambitious and courageous project, the first suspended cableway in Slovakia.
Baťa family in Bojnice
Count Ján František Pálffy, who was the last noble owner of the Bojnice Castle and estate died in 1908. He was single and with no children, leaving behind millions in property, including several domains, castles, palaces and apartments with furniture and a valuable inventory. The property ended up at auctions. Also for sale was the former Bojnické estate with an area of almost 11,000 hectares. Baťa Company bought it at the turn of 1938/1939 and recorded it under the name Bojnice Large Estate. The property constituted a forest management with arable land, gardens, meadows, pastures and forests in eight villages around Bojnice, then a spa, garden centre, castle and the Ukrniská farm. The director of this estate, Andrej Hausknotz (1911 – 1975), photographically documented everything and thanks to him we have preserved photos from the period Baťa family lived in Bojnice. The Castle was the home of the estate headquarters. The director and the castle manager lived here with their families. It also provided accommodation for guests of the spa and Štrand thermal pool. It had a kitchen and dining room with a café in the Huňady Hall, laundry and storage facilities. At the turn of 1944/1945, the Baťa School of Labour, joinery specialisation, had its classrooms and dormitory there.
The company soon completed the Bojnice spa by adding a covered colonnade with a restaurant and café, and adapting the whole area. In 1942, the spa was awarded the status of healing spa. The strategic part of the Bojnice Large Estate was the forests. The priority was the processing of wood for the needs of construction and furnishing of the administrative, production and commercial premises as well as housing units of the company all over Slovakia. For this purpose, a large joinery workshop was built in Necpaly near Prievidza and in 1942 a sawmill and a hoof-manufacture with the adjoining Baťa residential area originated in Pravenec village. In a few years, it grew into one of the largest furniture companies in the former Czechoslovakia – Tatra furniture Pravenec. The company grew food on its farm for home consumption and for sale. They also traded with quarry stone, gravel sand, clay and other minerals from the estate’s land. The major change in the activities of the Bojnice estate was the nationalization of Baťa’s factories (1945). His diverse portfolio initially remained preserved under the national and state administration, but the delimitation of individual activities under the relevant resorts in 1949 meant the end of Bojnice Large Estate.
Dispatch building of Svit railway station
The town of Svit, founded in 1934, is one of the youngest Slovak towns. Baťa Company from Zlín built it in one phase on previously barren land, after purchasing it from the village of Veľká. The characteristic urbanism and architecture have been applied in the colony of simple family houses with the appropriate social amenities, but mainly in the complex of factory buildings. These were originally designed to produce viscose fibres, but later changed to make shoes. The manufactured materials in this industrial town were mainly distributed using rail freight transport. The railway station still complements the architecture of Svit up to this day. It is unique with its unusually long time of construction (1948 – 1969), progressive form of architecture, an oversized scale and isolation from the urban areas despite originally being planned as the transport hub of the town. Based on the available sources, the architect Josef Holeček of Zlín designed the first project before the war. It was a unique work that had no comparison in the then Slovakia. It was a very modern design for its era, with a brave construction idea and rich artistic work. The core of the building’s layout was the central hall of the station’s vestibule with a semi-circular ground floor open through two floors. This was vaulted with a cupola ceiling and enclosed by a balcony gallery.
A large window with stained glass interrupts the circular ground plan of the atypical cupola on the southern side. Vojtech Stašík and J. Bendík created the stained glass in 1963. The entrances to the building face the compass directions. The station’s architecture reflects the years of the 1940’s as well as the late 1960’s. The building is clad with stone, mainly travertine, inside and partially outside. The walls between the pillars on the ground floor of the vestibule are made of glass fibre reinforced concrete. The quality of the cash box and vitrified glass windows refers to pre-war architecture. The round lines of the travertine staircase and the softly shaped exit from the underpass to the station bear traces of the 1960’s design trends. Despite the fact that this is a purpose-built engineering structure, an unusual amount of original details and elements have been preserved. These display the undeniable artistic and design values (stained glass, iron construction of the Svit station name on the cupola, various kinds of stone, the gallery’s mosaic pavement, railings, cash box windows, lights). Svit’s railway station building has never been a key traffic point. The almost unused building has slowly deteriorated. Its future is unclear.
Church in Drienov. New findings and discoveries
The largest medieval church in a country setting of the entire Šariš County has been preserved in Drienov (Prešov district). The earliest written evidence of this sacred structure comes from 1304. However, it is assumed that the church existed before. In the 14th century, it was the seat of the Medieval Church Community of the then Hungarian Kingdom. The parish had been used continuously throughout the Middle Ages. That time, it had a Gothic altar consecrated to St. Ladislaus. It had undergone structural changes that related to the economic growth of the medieval town. The sanctuary was built as one unit, with supporting six high pillars. Its dimensions were quite impressive in the context of the medieval Šariš countryside. With a length of 16 m, width of 8 m and height of more than 10 m, it is one of a type in the wider region. Bigger sanctuaries were only found in churches of large cities or monastic complexes. However, it is impossible to identify the whole extent of this medieval structure.
At the end of the Middle Ages, the church consisted of a long, polygonal, enclosed sanctuary and a single-nave in the western part. A high prismatic tower was added to the nave in the 17th century. The vault supported by pillars on sides was built in the 18th century. We assume there were three layers of the Prussian-type vault. The roof was replaced with a lower, two leveled roof in 1932 – 1934. After the Second World War, the Prussian- type vaults in the nave got replaced with a concrete traverse ceiling. Its decoration took place under the guidance of Mikuláš Jordán and ornamental-artist Ladislav Koch. The church’s roof was damaged in 1964 and Jordán’s paintings were destroyed. A year later, the tower’s roof changed significantly – the two-staged pyramidal roof was replaced by one high pyramid. The largest building intervention was the extension of the sanctuary’s northern wall and sacristy’s eastern wall in 2001. The church’s last restoration dates to 2017 (facades, dehumidification of the building and art decoration by P. Milkovič).
The Church of St. Simon and Jude (originally St. Martin) is a unique type of sacral monument in Šariš region. The rescue research of Prešov’s Regional Monuments Board uncovered interesting finds and identified the basic building phases. The discovery of Gothic windows, supporting pillars and skirting ledge gave an idea of how the elongated sanctuary looked like in the Middle Ages. Particularly unusual in the Šariš territory was the ornate Gothic cornice. It is gone from most of the city churches of this period and is evidence of Drienov’s bygone importance. A significant find is also the dating of the massive tower construction, which was believed to be from the Middle Ages. It is yet another example of the Gothic elements still applied in the 17th century. The preserved stone linings of the cut-finished Windows also help to expand the knowledge on the architectural development of the region.
Gabriel Szeghy – András Szeghy
The Szeghy mansions in Bystré
The village of Bystré is located in eastern Slovakia in thePrešov region. The land was originally divided by a spring into two separate municipalities. Tapli-Bisztra belonged to the Šariš County and Tapoly-Bisztra to Zemplín County. The municipalities were united in 1882. The Szeghy family comes from the Zala County (in today’s Hungary). Benedikt Szeghy acquired the Zemplín village of Bystré with adjacent Poloma forests in 1583. The first mention about the family’s mansions dates to the end of the 17th century. Other Szeghy mansions are mentioned in 1831, which means that the Szeghys had several mansions in the village centre at that time – František’s house was situated at the lowest, Imrich’s in the middle and Karol’s at the highest end of the area. The latter still stands near the spring on the former Zemplín’s side. The external appearance reveals its bad condition. This newest of the Szeghy’s mansions was built between 1871 and 1876.
The Szeghyháza farm consisted of an inner and outer courtyard. Part of the inner, smaller courtyard was the yeoman’s Classicist building. The front of the courtyard was arranged as an ornamental garden in Neo-Baroque style. Next to the mansion was a stone-clad well, wooden elevated pavilion of a pentagonal shape and bathroom – spa house. There also was a stone granary, a smaller construction (beehive) and aboveground stone cellar. The outer courtyard enclosed large stables, three family houses with a joint roof for workers, a large wooden barn and water mill with other buildings. Part of the garden with the mill was sold in 1892 to the miller, who worked and lived in the mill. With the collapse of the monarchy and the origin of the new state, several things changed. The mansion was split between two owners in the first third of the 20th century. On the onset of the new state-political establishment, the farm got divided and renamed. The workers’ houses were pulled down as well as the barn at the end of the 1980s. The Classicist mansion, spa house and mill stand to this date. Their owners are currently trying to restore them.
Pictorial clocks with Bratislava’s vistas
The collections of Bratislava City Museum include three pictorial clocks with painted vistas of Bratislava (Pressburg). Despite the fact that all paintings capture the most frequently artistically depicted southwest view of the city (from the right bank of the Danube, the Petržalka side), there are several differences between the various compositions. The identified graphic works that inspired all three of these paintings can be found in the collections of Bratislava City Gallery.
The first of the three clocks’ vistas was inspired by the lithograph of the famous Austrian painter and graphic artist Jakob Alt (1789 – 1872). This graphics exists in several free copies and is either dated to 1826 or around 1830. It is also part of the album 264 Donau Ansichten nach dem Laufe des Donaustromes von seinem Ursprunge bis zu seinem Ausflusse in das schwarze Meer, which was sponsored and published by the German-Austrian lithographer, drawer and publisher Adolf Friedrich Kunike (1777 – 1838) in Vienna in 1824 – 1826 at Leopold Grund’s press house. The same Alt’s lithography was also included in the publication entitled Die Donau vom Ursprunge bis Belgrad – 71 Ansichten nach der Natur gezeichnet von J. Alt. Mit erläuterndem Texte, Neue Auflage der malerischen Donaureise. L. Förster first published this album in Vienna in 1833 and a second edition was issued around 1845. The pictorial clock is fitted with a musical machine, which alternately plays two melodies. The signature A. Olbrich helps to identify the producer as the Viennese master Anton Olbrich.
The vista in the second clock is also painted according to Alt’s lithography. At the front, there is a paddle-wheel steamboat. Similarly, the clock is again fitted with the music machine from the Viennese producer A. Olbrich.
The latest acquisition of the pictorial clock with Bratislava’s vista entered the museum in 2017. It was obtained with public funds thanks to the Fund for Art Promotion – the main partner of the project.
This unique clock apparently originates from 1838. The vista was freely painted based on the coloured etching of an unknown Viennese graphic artist from the 1830s, or a similar variant. The music machine is the product of the well-known Prague’s workshop Řebíček.
Júlia Ragačová – Radoslav Ragač
Memorial book of Piešťany’s Sokol Gymnastics Club
The origin of Czechoslovakia started the Sokol (Falcon) Club movement also in Slovakia. This was perceived as an important tool in reinforcing the democratic character of the new joint state. Sokol Club had gradually grown into a massed activity and the club still exists today. Despite the wide scope of the Sokol movement, not much evidence documenting its activity has been saved in Slovakia. Various fragments are scattered across multiple archival and fund institutions. The reason for that was the repeated violent destruction of the Sokol movement by both totalitarian regimes that hit Slovakia in the 20th century. The Sokol Gymnastics Club in Piešťany is no exception. Only one account book and a few collection items have been saved in the Balneological Museum of Imrich Winter in Piešťany.
Because of the absence of historical sources, the Sokol movement in Piešťany was never a subject of deeper scientific interest. The turn came when the memorial book of the Piešťany’s Sokol Club was discovered, which recorded the club’s activities since its origin in 1919. The state archives in Trnava found the book in 2017, when revising its archival funds and collections. Besides its importance for the local history, the memorial book also helps to understand the functioning of the Sokol movement better across the whole of Slovakia in the interwar period and deserves more attention in the future.
Baroque manor house in Bernolákovo
The manor house with its group of buildings and a park is a national cultural monument owned by a businessman, who uses the large park as a golf course. After its recent restoration, the whole area is used for representative purposes, club and leisure time activities, as well as administrative and economic facilities, including limited accommodation and restaurant services.
Jozef Esterházy built the Baroque manor house in Bernolákovo (Čeklís) in 1714 to 1722. Very little evidence has been preserved about the existence of its baroque garden with a park and sculptural decoration. The most significant preserved sculpture is the pylon with the Virgin Mary as a patron of the Hungarian Kingdom and a kneeling St. Stephen at the manor house’s front. The proof that the house was living a dynamic life in the first half of the 19th century can be seen in the detailed economic inventory of the furniture and interior equipment.
Further evidence shows that the manor house was abandoned in 1865. A massive fire damaged it in 1911. After it was repaired, the Estherházy family used it as a residential property until 1945. With the state nationalisation came decades of plundering the house’s historical rooms and the adjacent farm buildings, as the area accommodated the Agricultural Technical School, Agricultural Property Mechanization Centre and boarding school. The manor house became the property of the Bernolákovo village in 1993, which tried to save the monument with long-term rentals. A private owner bought the house in 2002. The complex reconstruction started in 2014 and finished in spring of 2017.
Detva’s wooden carved crosses
The article presents the carved crosses as a specific feature of the Detva village as well as the whole region under the Poľana mountain range. The crosses are unique in the whole of the Slovak territory and in 2017 were registered onto the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Slovakia with a possible entry to the UNESCO’s list. The author discusses the origin and spread of this Detva phenomenon also outside the Poľana region. Based on the expert sources as well as the research of the Podpolianske Museum in Detva that mapped the terrain and the cross-makers, the author describes the types of crosses, their decor and symbolism. In the second part, she introduces the makers. Since the article does not allow for a detailed analysis of all makers, their creations and contributions, the author selected significant personalities – the founders of the tradition Jozef and Ján Fekiač and one of the prominent successors of continuing the tradition, Jozef Krnáč. The article underlines the exceptionality of this item and its representative character not only for the Detva region, but also in the context of Slovakia and the world.