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Revue Pamiatky a múzeá – Summary 3/2005

Prešov in the Passage of Time. Town‘s Architectural and Artistic Gems
Roman Catholic St. Nicolaus’s parish church is the oldest stone building
preserved in Prešov in its full complexity. It is natural that it was
situated in the most significant place, in the centre of the
spindleshaped square. They began to build the church around 1347 and it
was completed to achieve its present shape in 1512 – 1519 under the
supervision of Master Johannes Brengyseyn and Master Nicolaus from
Levoča. Ase arly as 1429 the municipal school was mentioned in the
written documents. It stood in close proximity to the church. The
delegates of the Upper Hungarian Protestante states decided to add to
the school a higher form of education at the session in Košice on
November 18th 1665. A year later a foundation stone of the higher
evangelical School was laid which was adapted to its present shape after
the fire in 1887 according to the design of Karl Benkó. The Carmelitans
were the oldest order in the town, and about 1380 they had a monastery
with a church built, which was later renamed the Holy Trinity Church.
The church acquired its present shape after the reconstruction in 1708
–1718 under Košice builder Tornyossi.
Around the mid 15th century the town‘s prosperity manifested itself by
the construction of stone buildings on the narrow medieval plots.
However, the burgher houses were decisively influenced by Renaissance.
The oldest Renaissance portal with the date 1508 is in the passage way
of the house at 108 Hlavná Street. Baroque enriched the town also by
several palace-like buildings, the most famous of them is the so called
Klobušicky’s Palace, in close proximity to the complex of buildings
belonging to the Greek Catholic bishopric. The Prešov Town Hall is at
present in the row of houses of the western part of Hlavná Street.
However, in the Middle Ages, the city council had its sessions in the
building situated in the inner part of the spindleshaped square, where
together with other public and sacred buildings, it stressed its
significance by its position. The building can be seen in Gaspar’s vista
of 1768 and is localized in the place of present day Neptune‘s fountain
in the southern park on the square. We do not know why it ceased to
exist, on the other hand, the bulding where the Town Hall is even today,
was mentioned ase arly as the origination of the vista. Perhaps after
the greatest fire in the town in 1887 it was rebuilt to its present
shape, and that building phase manifested istelf above all on the main
facade. In the southern part of the main square there are two monumental
buildings standing oppositee ach other – the so called Szentandrássy
Palace and the building called The Blacke agle. Both representative
buildings were built at the end of the 19th century in historicizing
style. As early as the end of the Middle Ages there was an inn of the
same name in the Black Eagle. In 1878 the city council decided to adapt
the building so that it would be able to house the long planned theatre.
The Košice builder and architect Michael Repaský elaborated the
grandiose reconstruction design. Bosák’s Bank at the corner of the
crossroads opening the entrance to the historical city centre is
a unique building with specific features combining historicizing styles
and Art Nouveau. It was built in 1923 –1924 for the American-Slovak bank
owned by Michal Bosák. Architect Viliam Glasz, graduate from the Royal
Building Academy in Budapest was the author of its design.
Jewish monuments represent a separate chapter of Prešov cultural history. There belong also
Neptune‘s fountain in the city park constructed from the donation of the Jewish businessman
Mark Holländer. The buildings serving the Jewish ethnic group gradually
divided into two parts. In the area of the north-western part of the
fortification moat there were the Jewish suburbs, inhabited, after the
division, by Orthodox Jews. In the opposite part of the town, in the
eastern part of the fortification moat is the synagogue and the school
building which belonged to the neologic part of the worshippers. The
Prešov Calvary is situated in the countryside on a hill, southwest of
the town. It was consecrated in 1769.

Prešov as the Centre of Cultural Diversity
Geographic location of Prešov made the town a crossroads of several
cultures, it is the residence of three bishoprics, the bishopric of thee
ast District of evangelical Church, Greek Catholic bishopric and
Orthodox bishopric. In the centre of the lentil-shaped historical city
centre there are four buildings very significant for Prešov‘s life and
history. These are two churches and two schools and it is not by chance
that in close proximity, there are two Christian churches – a Roman
Catholic St.Nicolaus‘ Church and the evangelical Church of the Holy
Trinity, which ranks among the few Protestant churches in Slovakia built
during the period of Reformation. In the north it neigbours with the so
called Old Evangelical College, the most significant monument of
Protestant schools in our cultural history.
Greek Catholic cathedral St.John Baptist‘s Church originated from the
hospital church, which was taken over by the order of the Minorites. It
became a cathedral after bishopric was established there in 1818. The
building of the Orthodox cathedral of St.Alexander Nevsky started in
1946 and was consecrated in 1950. The cathedral church is closely
connected with the bishopric, which since 1993 (after the declaration of
the Slovak Republic) has been an autonomous Orthodox archbishopric. The
Cathedral Church of St.Alexander Nevsky is the central church of the
Orthodox church both in Bohemia and Slovakia. The arch-bishop‘s office
of the Orthodox church is in the neighbourhood of the church. Th e
Orthodox synagogue in Okružná Street built in Moorish style comes from
1898. It is the largest of all synagogues in Prešov and is still used by
the worshippers. Its interior is decorated with striking ornamental
paintings, which preserved their original colourful character and
complete composition in spite of unfavourable course of history.

Builder Juraj Byrtus – Regional Tradition Transformation
Juraj Byrtus came from Silesia (he was born on January 7th 1897 in the
village of Mosty u Jablunkova). After passing master examinations and a
short stay in Banská Bystrica, he moved to Michalovce for good, where he
worked as a designer and builder till his death on January 9th 1962. He
designed sacred buildings for the Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic and
Evangelical churches. He designed and many a time also built over dozens
of churches in
the regions of Zemplín and Šariš. Byrtus‘ churches have a few specific
features in common – particularly the inclination to Gothic and eastern –
Old Russian and Byzantine inspiration
coupled with rusticalized Art Nouveau motifs which formed an interesting regional mode.
They come from the region in which Juraj Byrtus lived and worked. The beginnings of Juraj
Byrtus‘ works are connected with the building of the Greek Catholic church of Sending the
Holy Ghost in Michalovce, where he built the church, designed by
Vladimír Sičinský, who had a decisive influence on his further
activities. From the aspect of space concept all Byrtus‘ churches ae one
nave ones with oblong naves with semicircular (the church of Christ the
King at Malý Šariš, the church of St. Anne at Čemerné, or the church at
Hudcovce) or with polygonal apses of the presbytery (e. g. the church
of St. Cyril and Metod at Giraltovce, the Calvinist church at Lúčky near
Michalovce or the church of Jesus Christ’s Holy Heart in Svidník, which
has been pulled down). In the disposition of the nave Byrtus uses the
typical indication of transept – which shows on the façade as slightly
protruding, pointed arc of the completed „risalite“. Open arcade
vestibule is also a common feature of the mentioned
churches. Above the vestibule the pushed foward quadrangular or polygonal spire towers from the groundplan.
Byrtus‘ works represent conservative trend in the broad spectrum of Slovak interwar and post
war architecture, stemming from the ever present historicizing line of development.

Gallery with an Unusual Profile
Prešov, the third largest town in Slovakia, is not only the county‘s administrative centre with
the largest number of cultural monuments in Slovakia, but also the
residence of one of the oldest Slovak galleries. 110 years after the
first (recorded) art exhibition had taken place there (Exhibition of
Arts and Craft s in 1846) a gallery was founded in Prešov.
Since its foundation the Šariš Gallery has been characterized as a
regional gallery, systematically building the picture of visual arts
history within the framework of its activities from the Middle Ages up
till now.
The core of its acquisitional and expert activities was focused on broadly conceived region of
northeastern Slovakia. Today we are much more aware of the significance
of systematic building of a representative collection of art in a region
as a reflection of quality, richness and diversity of its artistic
tradition as well as present day life. What has been long considered as
something less important, i. e. a certain stressing of regional
character in all spheres of expert activities, now is considered as an
advantage. The Šariš Gallery as one of the few in Slovakia can make a
really representative collection of the development of art of its region
from the end of the 15th century till today, which gives it a chance to
become an interesting place on the tourist map.

The Sztárays‘ Portraits in Michalovce
Exhibitional activities and socially oriented works commissioned by the
church, aristocracy or by the municipal community were, from the end of
the 17th but mainly in the first decades of the 19th century, determined
almost exclusively by foreigners. Slovakia, in all respects got
incorporated into the power sphere of the Viennese court and was
influenced by the expansion of Austria and mainly Vienna also in the
area of arts. Th e influence of Austrian painters found its way together
with the works of art made by local artists. The influence of Austrian
art reached the territory of east Slovakia as late as the second half of
the 18th century, when portrait began to occupy the most important
position. Ostentatious, mainly complete or three quarter portraits,
following the models of French representative portrait got into the
forefront of attention as well as the more modest, objective burgher
portraits, preferring the presentation of one half of the figure and the
bust. Though many members of aristocracy and high clergy had their
portraits still made in Vienna, or during their journeys even further
abroad, and from time to time they invited foreign portraitists to their
residences, about the mid 18th century the number of local portraitists
specialists increased considerably, though their names rarely left the
mist of anonymity.
The Zemplín Museum has in its collection fund also a set of portraits –
the family gallery of the Sztárays, gained in 1958 – 1972. This family
of aristocrats strikingly influenced the town‘s development for two
hundred years. A few years ago the museum opened a museum in the castle,
which at the time being houses the ceremonial portrait hall with the
representatives of the family and their relatives. The portraits are
most oft en not signed, made in the period 1725 – 1930, and have not
been published in expert literature so far. The oldest portrait is that
of Emerich Sztáray. He was appointed Principal Comitat Administrator of
the Uh county by Maria Teresa for his dedicated service in 1740. Emerich
Sztáray was the Royal Secret Counsellor and Lord Chamberlain and in
1764 he was member of the Diet.

Church of St. Michael Archangel at Príkra and Its Restoration
Similarly as in other submontaneous villages of northeastern Slovakia also at Príkra, near the
Dukla Pass, church is the dominant building in the countryside. Ivan
Yuhasevych Skriavsky was the founder of the church, as the inscription
carved into the beam behind the altar says.
The three part church is the variant of the „Lemkov“ type. The
unrepeatable silhouette of log cabin construction with pyramid-like
stepped top and pommels with hand wrought crosses of original form above
each of them is the natural component of the village‘s skyline. The
iconostas represents the Ukrainian variant of solving this wall
separating and at the same time joining the holy and the church nave,
which was formed sometime at the beginning of the 17th century. The icon
of Virgin Mary is a transitional type between Hodegetria and Eleousa.
St. Nicolaus‘ icon is a modifi ed iconographic type which appeared in
the second half of the 17th century. The hems of clothes in these icons
are decorated with a fine network of lines crossing one another. The
slabs are inserted in the deep, plastically solved Baroque frames which
enjoyed great popularity, as testified by the preserved monuments,
particularly at the beginning of the 18th century.
The inner surface of the frames is decorated with gilded, low relief
plant ornament, which in two principal icons is complemented by symbolic
green colour. Similar icons could be found in the 18th century also in
other localities in east Slovakia, but also immediately beyond its
present day border, in the southeastern territories of Poland, west
Ukraine and northeast Hungary. In our country this kind of painting
could have been introduced by Bazilian monks who participated very
actively in decoration of the Greek Catholic churches of the then
Moukachevo eparchy. Similar solution of paintings and carved parts can
be found in Mirola,
which is not far from Príkra and even in much further Kalná Roztoka, which might indicate
their common roots, or similar workshop environment.
The icon of St.Michael Archangel is the church icon at Príkra. It
differs stylistically from the preceding ones. The relief ornament is
substituted by brown and blue marbling. Expressive Rococo elements
employed in the archangel‘s robe and the soft shaping of the faces draws
our attention to the interior decoration of the paraphial church in
Bodružal 3 km from Príkra (iconostas from 1794), mural paintings
(1793-1797) and a part of iconostas at Kožany, Doomsday in Rakovčík
(1785), and mural paintings in the church at Kožuchovce (1785). From the
before mentioned works ensues, that a master infl uenced by Rococo
painting was active approximately for 15 years in this region. According
to the oldest and the largest preserved monument we could call him the
Master of Mural Paintings at Kožuchovce.
The icon‘s iconography is a sort of penetration or coupling of two
types: St.Michael Archangel as the heavenly Archstrategist and Synaxis
of St. Michael Archangel which was wide spread also in Slovakia in the
second half of the 17th century.
Ensuing from the stylistics of the idividual icons in the iconostas it
is evident that they were made at least by three masters. Three icons of
the local row originated as the earliest i. e. at the time when the
church was being built about 1776. Another painter or painters painted
the row of festivals, apostles and prophetes. We coud say that they come
from the period 1776 –1795 when Ivan Yuhasevych worked there. The
church icon of St. Michael Archangel might have been made about 1794,
when there and in the the closest area lived and worked for at least
fifteen years the master who in 1794 painted the iconostas in the parish
church at Bodružal. He might have been a relatively well trained
painter who found job in the region for quite a long time. However, it
is too early to speak of his followers or school.

The Find of Medieval Mural Paintings in the Church at Turňa nad Bodvou
Present day townlet Turňa nad Bodvou was a signifi cant settlement in
the Middle Ages. In 1432 it gained the status of a free town (civitas)
and until 1881 when the Turňa Comitat was cancelled, it was the comitat
town. The Roman Catholic church of the Ascention of Virgin Mary was
built in the 13th century in the site of the wooden church. In the
second half of the 16th century it was in the hands of Protestants for a
whole century, which must have had influence on the formal changes of
the interior decoration.
During the restorer investigation stratigraphic probes proved that the
mural paintings had been preserved almost in coherent layer on the rear
part of sedilias. The surface of the paintings is damaged by medieval
carved graffiti. In the bottom parts of the south, southeastern, eastern
and partly northeastern polygon (up to the height of approximately 2 m
from the present position of the floor) we can find seven figures of
holy women in small not life size. The figures are framed by illusive
architecture. They were best preserved in the south and southeastern
wall. The inner window frames are decorated with monochrome frames with
changing colours. In the frames there are presented half figures in rows
one above the other with inscription bands around their heads. On the
eastern wall, where the central motif has to be presented, a group of
little heads with halos has been preserved above the row of holy women
in the left bottom part. Their eyes are aiming obliquely upwards to the
supposed centre of the composition.
The painting and artistic quality of the revealed mural painting is very
high. Th detailed elaboration of the incarnates and soft , precisely
painted hair are very close to the standard of the slab paintings of the
period. From the formal aspect the paintings are marked by the features
of the International Gothic Style (beautiful style).

Great Moravian Graves at the Church of St. Margaret at Kopčany
The site of a fortifi ed settlement Valy at Mikulčice was one of the
centres of the Great Moravian Empire, built in the valley of the river
Morava. Since 1954 archaeologic exploration has been carried out at the
fortified settlement Mikulčice-Valy, which has brought remarkable
information of European significance. In this fortified settlement they
explored apart from other things, groundplans of twelve churches of
which negatives of the foundations or torsos of foundation lines were
preserved. In the neighbourhood of the fortified settlement, on the left
bank of the river there is the village of Kopčany with the church of
St. Margaret of Antioch. We have no written information about the
development of the closest territory around the Church of St. Margaret
from Antioch at Kopčany in the period from the 9th till the 14th
century. Since 1998 under the direction of P. Baxa the Boards of
Monuments of the
Slovak Republic has been carrying out a systematic and complex
archaeological exploration of the whole cadastre of Kopčany. The
objective of the exploration is the seeking of answers to the questions –
why and who built the Church of St. Margaret in the valley of the river
The answer was difficult indeed, as actually after half a century of
exploration of the Great Moravian period no walled church or profane
building from the 9th till the fi rst half of the 10th century has been
found in the territory of Great Moravia. It has been proved, that the
first building phase of the church finished as late as in the course of
the 11th century and that the church is in the area of a settlement
agglomeration from the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century with
connections to the Mikulčice fortified settlement Valy. Mapping the
finding places hinted at the existence of a historical route from the
fortified settlement across the river Morava to the east. The church
itself, as it was proved by the exploration of the interior of the nave
and the cemetery south of the nave and the vestibule, was built in the
site of the older settlement. In its interior and closest proximity
people were buried until the 17th – 18th centuries.
The find so far of three Great Moravian graves in 2004 caused a
principal change in defining the date of the church‘s origin. The
exploration of the church interior and the first two stages of
exploration of the cemetery at the church proved that it was built
there, where nobody was buried, which means that it was older than the
graves. Remains of the grave No. 74 have been found in the nave of the
church, which originated aft er the first building phase ceased and
contained jewellery from the 11th century. At the southern wall of the
church nave and its pulled down vestibule three graves were localized
under the graves of the cemetery near the church from the 16th and the
18th centuries, grave No. 3/98 and 106/04 of the oldest horizon of
burying at the church, which by their localization, took into
consideration the church in the full size of its nave and nartex.
Characteristic Great Moravian jewels – two gilded bronze buttons, a gold
earring with a bead and a silver tympanum earring come from the graves
3/98 and 106/04 (?). According to the analogies the date of their origin
can be assessed only grossly as coming from the 9th till the beginning
of the 10th century with regard to the condition of the analysis of the
Veligrad jewellery.
The significance of archaeological find reliably defining the building
of the church of St. Margaret as late as the period of Rastislav I‘s or
Svätopluk I‘s reign sheds diff erent light on the architecture itself
and its importance within the context of Mikulčice fortified settlement
Valy. The dominant morphological feature of the dispositional solution
of the church is its longitudinal three part character: nartex – nave
–presbytery, which must have been most probably reflected also in the
material structure. If we accept the date of the church‘s origin on the
basis of archaeological research, it is necessary to seek for direct
models for the Kopčany church in Carolingian cultural region, mediated
thanks to the dominant position of the Salzburg archbishopric in
christianization of the territory north of the Danube following the
synod of 796. Almost identical groundplans can be found in the church of
St. Kilian in Höxter (780 – 800), the church of St. Iustus, Laurentius
and Bartholomew in Flums (about 800), the church of St. Jacob in Martin
in Rauris (9th century), St. Laurentius in Winterthur
(9th –10th centuries), S. Peter and Paul in Bodfeld (9th or 11th
centuries), the churches in Sudburg (9th century). This type was
probably derived from the large Benedictine monastery churches with
similar dispositional division which can be found e. g. in
Lorsch-Altenmünster from 760 – 764 or in Regensburg-Niedermünster from
the mid 8th century. In the context of the Great Moravian sacred
architecture the disposition of the Church of St. Margaret is atypical.
Archaelogical research in the broader environs of the building could
help in defining its function. We cannot exclude the possibility that it
was a monastery church.
The Church of St. Margaret of Antioch is so far the only materially
completely preserved Great Moravian church whose period of existence can
be defined. Thanks to the fact that it has been so well preserved it is
a unique evidence of Christian cultural traditions, forming the Central
European region. The building comprises a great number of original
and architectural-building details. After the completion of research and
restoration it will be one of the central buildings of the prepared
archaeological park Mikulčice-Kopčany.