Annual awards of the Monuments and Museums magazine for 2014
CATEGORY DISCOVERY – FINDING
Dárius Gašaj – Ján Rákoš
Germanic cremation burial ground in Rankovce
The archaeological research of early Roman times in eastern Slovakia has only revealed a few burial findings so far. The reason for this is not the lack of archaeological explorations. It is the ploughing that has permanently damaged most of the burial sites of this period. In the area of eastern Slovakia, we know of a larger burial site in Zemplín and a unique grave in Lesné, as well as graves in Lastovce, Svätá Mária and lately in Kvakovce, which was accidentally revealed on a bank of the Domaša reservoir during an extreme water level drop.
A larger Germanic cremation burial ground in Rankovce revealed unique findings of Przeworsk culture, whose people came to eastern Slovakia from Poland through the Carpathian mountain passes in the 2nd century AD. The migration of these people related to the historically documented expansion of the vandal tribes of the Hasdings through the Carpathian mountains all the way to the Roman empire’s border, in the province of Dacia.
The burial ground in Rankovce was revealed by accident. At the beginning of May 2014, the Eastern Slovak Museum in Košice acquired a set of iron items found in the municipality. This collection included a dress clamp, knife and some ironwork from a shield. These items, as well as the way they were discovered, revealed an existence of a disturbed cremation burial ground of the Roman age. The Easter Slovak Museum initiated a quick rescue research of the site and also explored three other cremation burial places. In the summer of 2014, a systematic exploration of the site started.
The burial place is only slightly disturbed and spreads over an area of about 60 x 40 metres. Almost 100 m2 were researched in 2014, on which 20 cremation burial graves were documented, dug into shallow holes in stony bedrock. Three graves had the ashes stored in urns. The soldiers’ graves contained shield caps, belt forging, scissors, heads of pikes and spears, as well as a few other bigger weapons, such as the long swords with ring-finished handles that were unique to Slovakia. Also common were iron and bronze spurs, sometimes in pairs, which were the typical gear of horsemen, as well as segments of bronze vessels and imported Roman earthenware terra sigillata of the Dragendorf 33 type. Another group were the graves that contained characteristic female accessories, such as dress clamps, usually in pairs, iron belt buckles and clay spikes. There were also fragments of glass vessels and glass pearls. Most of these items of the Germanic and Roman-provincial origin helped to date the graves to the second half of the 2nd century.
NESTEX – temporary expositions of Slovak National Gallery
Over the last years, it has often been discussed that museums need to reconstruct and modify their “permanent expositions”, or convert them into temporary expositions. This need reflects major transformations happening in the field, starting with the shift from the linear (stylish) history of art to the new understanding of museum and gallery forms and functions, which appear to the outside world in order to attract a larger number of visitors.
In a Slovak context, the public disinterest in long-term expositions is the result of a combination of social, cultural and economic factors outside the museums. It is therefore necessary to focus attention on the causes that can be changed by the exposition professionals. For the curators of museums and galleries, the strategies and forms for presenting their collections should be equally important as their interpretation. The competencies for text interpretation of collection items, or expert’s knowledge might not always be sufficient for their presentation. Exhibiting is a very specific format of art-historical activity that is based on a different way of communication with the viewer than the written text or lecture.
The Slovak National Gallery had reinstalled its permanent expositions several times in the past with the aim to narrate the “national history of art” through them, which would explain the specific position of the Slovak territory within Europe in general. The transformation of the gallery into a better functioning institution in today’s society is reflected in the efforts of overcoming the limits of seemingly “neutral” institutions.
The NESTEX project (Temporary Exhibition of Gothic and Baroque Art, which opened on January 17, 2014, curated by Dušan Buran and Katarína Chmelinová) breaks away from the typically used criteria, such as chronology, style and iconography. The characteristic feature of the exposition is architecture, a kind of a theatrical place that intensifies the sensual perception of the exhibited works. The visitors to the exposition move in a darkened area, where they can see illuminated paintings or sculptures. Along with the curators’ texts and lectures, there are other accompanying texts, such as a catalogue and small brochure with basic information on the works, which the visitors can have in hand when touring the exhibition.
Etruscans from Perugia at Bratislava castle
The civilisation influences from ancient Etruria reached the central Danube river region between the 8th and 3rd centuries BC. Both regions were connected with commercial routes leading alongside the Danube, or the so-called Amber Road, which joined the Adriatic coast with the Baltic Sea region. Eventually, the contact between the current Slovak territory with the antic world started in the time when the Etruscans, as a nation, about whose origin as well as language, we barely know anything, ruled the north of the Apennine peninsula.
The exhibition Etruscans from Perugia, which ran from October 2014 until March 2015 at Bratislava castle, was organised by the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava, Museo archeologico nationale dell´Umbria Perugia, the Italian Cultural Institute in Bratislava and the local governments of Bratislava and Perugia under the auspices of the Slovak Culture Ministry on the occasion of the Italian presidency at the European Union Council. This also capped the long-term partnership between both towns.
The exhibition was installed in the basement hall of Bratislava castle with the ground plan of the letter L. The smaller entrance room presented Slovakia during the time of the Etruscans. This part displayed archaeological findings of the Kalenderberg culture, whose founders, who settled in south-western Slovakia in the 8th – 4th centuries BC, had several things in common with the Etruscans, chiefly, pottery. The second part of the exhibition presented 80 original exhibits from Perugia. The most valuable ones were the stone urns in the shape of settlements, which were common among the Etruscans. Their walls were embellished with sculptural decoration of family, mythological and historical themes. Most of them had their coloured top layers preserved, which increases their artistic value. The exhibition also displayed ceramics, small jewelleries, military items, cult artefacts and everyday necessities. Among the interesting exhibits were the reconstructed wooden carriage with a bronze application from San Mariano and a model of an underground tomb of the Volumni family discovered in 1840. The exhibition was accompanied with a 190-page catalogue in two languages, which was compiled by 20 Italian and Slovak authors.
Incunables – art of the 15th century in Slovak National Library. Interview with Ľubomír Jankovič
The Slovak National Library in Martin issued an imposing, 358-page book Incunables: The Art of the European Bookmakers of the 15th Century in the Collections of the Slovak National Library, in 2014. Its author, PhDr Ľubomír Jankovič, PhD (* 1960), is a historian of book culture, heraldry expert, writer and composer. He has worked with the Slovak National Library in Martin since 1984. He is an exp ert on the historical ex libris and supralibros that relate to Slovakia. He has published a monograph and several studies on the subject at home as well as abroad. In 1996, he initiated a digitalisation of rare medieval relics of Slovakia’s book culture as part of the UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme. Among the most significant is the edition of five Bratislava antiphonaries from the library of the Bratislava Canonry, which were added to the Memory of the World Heritage List UNESCO in 1997. In 2010, he and Klára Komorová wrote an award-winning representative publication Jewels of the Book Culture and Archival Documentation Heritage in the Funds and Collections of the Slovak National Library.
His third monograph, Incunables: The Art of the European Bookmakers of the 15th Century in the Collections of the Slovak National Library, is based on the research of 516 volumes of various themed contents. These encompass works of Greek and Roman classicists, authors of early Christianity (patristic), scholastic and liturgical writing, works of the first humanists (philosophical, historical, natural and medical), chronicles and travel books of German, Swiss, Italian and French provinces. The areas of the illuminated, calligraphic and drawn decoration, wood-carved illustration, typography as well as historical book binding of the earliest prints in the collection of the library’s incunables have called for a complex research. This was done as part of a largely conceived project, the Memory of Slovakia – National Centre of the Excellence of Research, Protection and Access to Cultural and Scientific Heritage, which was initiated by the library in cooperation with the Department of Mediamatics and Cultural Heritage of the Faculty of Humanity Studies at Žilina University. His conclusions, in the form of partial studies, including this monograph, are the result of a thorough study of available literature and scientific cooperation with Czech experts on incunables (Petr Voit, Kamil Boldán), as well as foreign art historians (Milada Studničková, Marianna Rozsondai). This could be the stimuli and inspiration for new research tasks and the presentation of this theme in Slovakia (research of medieval book painting, graphic art, book binding, documentary work, themed exhibition, cultural publication).
Chronicle of John of Turiec
The John of Turiec Chronicle (Johannes de Thurocz: Chronica Hungarorum, 1488) is the most comprehensive chronicle of the Hungarian Kingdom from the earliest (almost biblical and Hunnic) times to the seizure of Wiener Neustadt (Viennese Newtown) by the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus in 1487. The first edition was printed as an incunable on 3rd March 1488 in Brno, commissioned by John Filipec, the Bishop of Olomouc (before Varadine), who was the main chancellor of King Matthias Corvinus. The second edition was printed soon after, in June 1488 in Augsburg.
John of Turiec (Thuróczy) was born to a noble family around 1435. His name is first mentioned in the written records of 1459, when he participated in a property dispute. After 1465, he worked as a legal representative of the Premonstratesian Convent in Šahy and notary of the country’s juristic office. In 1486, he was appointed the main notary and stayed in this position until his death at the turn of 1488 and 1489.
The Chronicle of John of Turiec consists of four parts. The first is the so-called Hunnic Chronicle, which draws on the historical-geographic work of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II) and world’s chronicle of Florentine archbishop Antoninus. The second part describes the besieging of the Carpathian-Danube Basin by the old Magyars and the history of the Hungarian state until the times of Charles Robert (1308 – 1342). The third part, which copies the Chronicle of John (Apród) of Šarišské Sokolovce (or János Küküllei in Hungarian historiography), is a description of the reign of Louis I (1342 – 1382). The fourth part, except for eight chapters, is the author’s own thoughts.
John of Turiec was the first chronicler in the Hungarian Kingdom, who was not a cleric. He supported the so-called conquering hypothesis of the military besieging of the new land by the Old Magyars. The Chronicle of John of Turiec contains many details about the political, military and dynastical history of the Hungarian Kingdom, part of which was today’s Slovakia. The publication of this work and its translation from Latin into Slovak (translated by Július Sopko, who also wrote 985 notes; studies written by Ľubomír Jankovič and Richard Marsina) is a significant contribution to Slovak historiography. It is a shame, though, that the register compiled by the translator could not be published.
CATEGORY SMALLER PUBLICATION
Preservation of historical bells
The publication Preservation of Historical Bells: Methodology is a systematic guidebook mainly written for the conservationists and owners/guardians of bells in Slovakia. Along with the research and preservation of the historical values of bells, it also talks about preserving the bell’s authentic sound. It was written by Juraj Gembický, who works with the preservation of bells, sepulchral monuments and historical monuments at the Košice Regional Monuments Board, and Radek Lunga, a diocesan campanologer of the bishopric in České Budějovice, who helped to write a methodological guidebook on preservation of bells in the Czech Republic. When writing the books, both authors drew on their comprehensive understanding of bell situation in Slovakia, as well as the knowledge of campanologers in surrounding countries.
The book has seven main chapters, which equally describe the bells as well as their sounds. It defines the bell as an item of historical preservation and its connection with the surroundings, its placement and function. The reader will learn the basic criteria of preservation values and requirements needed for listing an item as a natural cultural monument. It explains the process of what to do in case there is a non-listed bell (the authors notify that all bells that were cast in Slovakia before 1916 fulfil the criteria for monument preservation). The chapter on Secondary Interventions into a Bell’s Preserved Value explains through texts and pictures the correct and incorrect interventions and their consequences (e.g. unsuitable electrification usually shortens the bell’s life). It is interesting that it is the “imperfect” manual ringing that with good maintenance kept the bell functioning for several centuries. On the contrary, the “perfect” machine-driven ringing causes irreversible damage.
The publication offers guidelines for bell owners, based on which they can provide regular quality maintenance of the bell. The closing chapter documents the procedure needed for bell renovation. The book contains a long list of sources and references for other literature. The visuals in the book help to simplify the Slovak expert terminology of bell parts and its accessories. The publication can be downloaded in pdf format from Slovakia’s Monuments Board at /page/publikacie.
Invitation to stoneware garden
Author Valéria Solčániová published her book The History of Kremnica Stoneware Factory in 2014 at her own expense. This more than a 200-page monograph is the result of a thorough archival research. It maps the factory’s history during its 140 years of production (1815– 1956).
The author divided the history of Kremnica manufacture into three chapters. The first one is called the History of Stoneware Production in Slovakia and the Town of Kremnica and explains the basis of stoneware production in this territory since the 18th century and particularly the origin and development of this production in Kremnica. The second chapter, Development, Process and End of Kremnica Stoneware Factory in the 20th Century, is the largest, thanks to the number of preserved sources. It follows the factory’s story until 1956, when the production stopped. It also mentions the process of the company’s nationalisation in 1945 and the changes in the workers’ positions. The third chapter is the most crucial in regards to the region’s collective memory. In it, the author summarises the information acquired when researching Slovak museums, specifically the Kremnica Museum of Coins and Medals, the Slovak National Museum in Martin and Central-Slovak Museum in Banská Bystrica. She also describes the factory’s buildings and manufacturing processes.
Apart from the detailed account of the factory’s history, the reader will be drawn to the book’s pictures. They show the entire manufacturing assortment, from tall dishes to small, decorative products as well as stoneware utility items, such as inkpots. The last part of the book talks about the museum collection of Kremnica stoneware in Slovakia, offering a summary of its stoneware exhibitions in the last decades (1970, 1981, 1983, 1996, 2013), the largest of which is the exposition Beauty of Stoneware Gardens that opened in Kremnica in 2013 and displayed over 800 collection items.
Water station in Palárikovo
The water station with an elevated wooden tank in the former Slovenský Meder (Tótmegyer), today Palárikovo, was built during the reconstruction of Károlyi’s manor house and its adjacent farmsteads. When Count Ľudovít (Lajos) I Károlyi (1799 – 1863) left the post of the Nitra’s county administrator, he started to consistently work on modernising his estate. He approached the studio of the significant Viennese architect Henrich Koch, where the talented architect Mikuláš Ybl used to work in 1839. Koch recommended Ybl to supervise the construction of his plans. After Koch’s death in 1861, Ybl directed the reconstruction of the estate’s building in Palárikovo and also implemented his own inventive ideas.
Lajos’s son, Count Aloisius (Alajos, 1825 – 1889) inherited the estate in 1863. He was one of the European diplomats, but despite his work duties, he continued with the reconstruction and improvement of his family residence. The large estate, which bred horses as well as cattle, had grown in the second half of the 19th century, adding a distillery and other facilities that demanded an increased water supply. The water works built in 1869 solved the problem.
The water station was erected on masonry foundations. It had a wooden tower with a water tank at the top. The machine-room with a steam engine was built next to the tower and in a safe distance from the wooden construction was the steam boiler, which supplied the engine. The engine operated the pump in the well, which pushed the water up to the tank at the top of the tower. From there, the water was distributed by pipes not only to the farmstead buildings and facilities but also to the local hospital, school and several bathrooms of the manor house. The water was also used as a feature in the estate’s park and accentuated the glamour of the aristocratic residence. An electromotor was installed into the machine-room at the beginning of the 20th century, which was powered from a nearby sugar factory in Šurany.
After the Second World War, the waterworks kept supplying the stockbreeding as well as the buildings of the former manorial complex. The wooden part of the machine-room was replaced by masonry work in 1959. Due to the lack of maintenance, the state of the water station got radically worse at the end of the 20th century. In 2012, the tower that leaned southwest was provisionally stabilised. The complex renovation of the water works took place in 2014, preserving around 70 % of the original wooden construction. The monument now houses an exposition that illustrates its history and renovation process.
St. Christopher – wall painting in Nižný Slavkov church
The fragments of the wall painting with the image of St. Christopher were uncovered in 2013 during the exterior renovation of the Church of the Virgin Mary’s Conception in Nižný Slavkov. The church comes from the last third of the 13th century and the wall painting seems to date to the first half of the 16th century. As it used to be the case back then, the large painting on the southern wall of the church’s presbytery is situated so it can be seen from a distance for the pilgrims passing between Spiš to Šariš regions. Made as a real fresco, only fragments of the painting have been preserved and are hardly visible. Its surface was seriously destroyed, which affected the richness of the original colour hues. The details at the background and lower part were lost for good. The restoration took place in 2014. Out of almost nothing, the restorers managed to recreate an excellent example of monumental painting that relates to the renaissance beginning at the given territory.
The large figure of St. Christopher, depicted in a basic iconography as a giant in belted tunics, with a cane in hand and a child on his shoulder, takes almost over the whole area of the exterior painting format. There is a hint of blue sky in the upper part and a water area at the lower edge. The captured posture is a metaphor about how Christopher carried the weight of the whole world and the world’s creator on his shoulders. Regarding the heavy damage and lack of the original painting underneath his feet, we can only guess at the hints of the mythical fish Faronica.
The author of the article describes in detail the restoration process of the painting – dry and wet cleaning of its surface, fixing, in-depth grouting, cementing, retouching and the final presentation of the depicted image bordered by a frame. The restoration of the exterior wall painting with St. Christopher’s theme has capped another phase of the church’s renovation by Levoča’s Regional Restoration Studio at the Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic. Head restorer Peter Hric carried out the works with the help of Martina Hricová.
CATEGORY EVENT – HAPPENING
Dana Lacová – Tomáš Farkaš
Museum of Petržalka fortification
The Museum of Petržalka Fortification Civic Association originated in Bratislava in 2011 as a group of enthusiasts interested in war history and technology. Their main focus was the Czechoslovak fortification in western Slovakia from the interwar period and their aim was to present five of its buildings to the public in the form of an exposition. The display was to concentrate on various periods, during which these constructions served different purposes and political ambitions.
The Czechoslovak fortification was the symbol of technical and military progress, as well as the morals and courage of defending the country against enemies. The fortification was built in the years from 1935 to 1938, on selected parts of the state frontiers in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Ruthenia. These constructions were equipped with the most modern weapons of that time, made in the Czechoslovak arms factory. The Fortification Works Headquarters and Fortification Council supervised and managed the construction works. By signing the Munich treaty in 1938, the area of the Czechoslovak fortification system became part of the German empire and the Czechoslovak army had to abandon it.
The German army used the fortified construction for its own purposes. It trained artilleries and tested weapons and ammunition there, which almost destroyed the fortification. In Slovakia, the constructions were treated with more care. Their aim was to defend the German line in case of the eastern front failure against the Soviet Union. After the war ended, the fortification started to deteriorate. Some constructions were re-activated during the Cold War and others were used as storerooms for military equipment of the Frontier Control. After the Iron Curtain fell, the fortification lost its military significance.
The civic association first reconstructed the infantry cabin B-S 4 Lány in the Bratislava city part of Petržalka, near the border checkpoint Berg. It can be accessed following a marked path on the anti-flood barrier-dam. The building was originally built and armed in 1938, and housed 27 men. The first floor contains the rooms for gunmen, two observation bells with equipment, bathroom and toilets, and also a well with a pump and filter room with aggregate. The lower floor was used as accommodation and a storage room for ammunition and food. The exposition is open to the public during the summer months. The association also organises special events, such as the Museum Night, Lantern Night and historical reconstruction Mobilisation.
CATEGORY FILM – MULTIMEDIA
Forty-six American bombers and eight fighter planes crashed on Slovak territory during the Second World War. Eighty-eight pilots died and around 380 were captured and taken to prison camps. Other pilots managed to escape the burning planes and searched for protection from the local people. Overall 53 people survived hiding at these people’s houses, who risked their lives to help them.
The documentary Unknown Heroes (2014) opens the subject of Slovak-American relations during the Second World War. It talks about human self-sacrifice and voluntary help. The American pilots who were shot down and Slovaks often didn’t understand each other, but they gradually warmed to each other, as the locals took the pilots in and treated them like their own family. They found the courage to keep their human values in times, when most inhabitants were driven by a self-preservation instinct, selfishly thinking of mainly themselves. The conscience of these people didn’t let them leave the young pilots at the mercy of German soldiers.
The fates of the Americans in Slovakia narrate a stunning story of survival amidst an unknown country, and the battle with despair and hopelessness behind the borderline of human strength. It is a story of the will to face their fate with dignity and respect. It also talks about the courage to look death in the eye and sacrifice one’s life in the name of freedom. Young enthusiasts, amateur historians all across Slovakia keep these memories alive by searching the remains of the shot down planes and erecting symbolical crosses where the Allied pilots died, bearing their names Ernest Appleby, Archie LaFond, Andrew Solock… Thanks to them, these pilots will not fall into oblivion.
The documentary is the work of producer and editor Darina Smržová (EDIT Studio, Bratislava), director Dušan Hudec, Museum of Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica, cameraman Rado Bliznakov and sound designer Dušan Kozák.
MODRA AND ĽUDOVÍT ŠTÚR
Jozef Tihányi – Michaela Haviarová
Church of St. John the Baptist’s Birth – the oldest monument building of Modra
The gradual renovation of the Catholic Church of the Birth of St. John the Baptist at the Modra cemetery has been carried out since 2011. Prior to the works beginning, an archaeological-historical and art-historical research, as well as restoration examination of the masonry layers and stone parts of the architecture took place, which specified the building’s construction development and revealed its previously unknown monument values.
The researchers briefly informed about the most significant discovery, medieval wall paintings, right after they found it also on pages of this magazine (TIHÁNYI, Jozef – HAVIAROVÁ, Michaela – BURAN, Dušan. Medieval Wall Paintings in Modra. Monuments and Museums No 4/2011, pgs. 36 – 37). The continuing works, mainly inside but also on the outer facades of the church, brought new findings and discoveries. It was assumed that the church originated in the location of an older building in the second half of the 14th century. The discovery of the early-gothic paintings, however, proves that Modra had a big and richly decorated church at the beginning of the 14th century. The church was built at the end of the second half of the 13th century. From this period comes the polygonal sanctuary with a northern sacristy and eastern half of the church’s nave. Inside the nave, the researchers found medieval wall paintings in several layers. On the northern wall are scenes of the Passion cycle, along with a monumental figure in a coat with crown, aureole and lime twig in the right hand. The southern wall behind the southern side altar revealed a fragment of a slightly older painting, which was different in style, with a line of apostles. This painting got destroyed when a large gothic window was installed at the end of the 14th century. Counterpart to this painting is a blessing figure on a throne, concealed by the baldachin altar that was probably built in there in the first half of the 14th century.
In the last third of the 14th century, the church nave was extended to the west. New big southern windows, southern portal and a new western portal were built. The reconstruction created a generous space with a flat ceiling, which can be locally compared to the churches from the same period in Svätý Jur and Pezinok. The church was repaired in the middle of the 16th century. The gothic interior painting was covered, but the church’s gothic look remained. At the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, when Evangelists used the church, side matronea were built into the nave and a vestibule was added to the western side.
In 1635, the church was back in hands of the Catholics, who carried out smaller construction modifications in the course of the 17th century. They built a new vault at the church sanctuary in 1763, and Ján Juraj Walter painted it in 1765. They added a southern sacristy, turning the original one into a chapel and later oratory. The reconstructions in the 18th century gave the church its today’s look, which had changed little during the 19th and 20th centuries. The reason behind it was that the church ceased to be used daily after the new Catholic Church of St. Stephan the King was built in the centre of Modra in the 1870s. This helped to preserve the church’s authentic form, with many original carpentry details and construction articles, such as windows, doors, floors, stairs and banisters.
Karol Kantek – Eva Kowalská
Ľudovít Štúr visits manor house in Ivanka pri Dunaji
The manor house in Ivanka pri Dunaji (14 km northeast of Bratislava) with its adjoining park is a remarkable Slovak monument, mapping important events of the second half of the 19th century. It was built in the third quarter of the 18th century for the Grassalkovichs, who owned it until 1841, when the last male descendant of the family died and the property was sold at auction. Michal Obrenović, Serbian earl and monarch, who lived in exile in Austria between 1842 and 1858, bought the manor house and its estate in order to use it as his country residence. Obrenović married Hungarian aristocrat, Countess Júlia Hunyady in 1853. Serbian Chief Minister Ilija Garašanin and Hungarian Chief Minister Gyula Andrássy were among the noteworthy people who visited the Obrenovićs in Ivanka.
Ľudovít Štúr (the leader of the Slovak national revival, ed. note), who lived in Modra under police surveillance after the 1848 revolution, secretly visited Michal Obrenović on December 17, 1855. This event is recorded on a memorial panel. The meeting had been agreed beforehand, but the context of their confidential talk remained unknown. Forty years later, Modra citizen, cooper and winemaker Daniel Lačný published an article in the Slovenské pohľady magazine entitled Contribution to Ľudovít Štúr’s Curriculum Vitae, where he wrote about his memories of this visit, as he was also present. He said that Štúr and Earl Obrenović talked for about two hours and Štúr seemed satisfied with the outcome of the meeting.
Ľudovít Štúr and Michal Obrenović met after 1842, when the father and son were forced to leave the Serbian kingdom and live in Vienna. Both were known for their generous support of Slavic students and artists. Štúr and Obrenović became closer friends in 1848 in the course of the revolutionary March events, when Hungary won independence from the Viennese government. Consequently, Slavic nations began to claim their rights. At the Slavic Congress in Prague of June 1848, Štúr declared the need to join Yugoslavia in the battle against the Hungarians. Michal Obrenović offered him a financial support for Slovak volunteers, but unfortunately, the money could not be used when needed.
After the revolution, Štúr could not find a respectable job in Hungary or Vienna and therefore turned his focus on Serbia. He believed that he would become the professor of political sciences in Belgrade, however, for unknown reasons this never happened. During the aforementioned meeting with the earl in Ivanka, his intention was to discuss possible mutual cooperation.
First monument of Ľudovít Štúr from 1872 in Modra
Among the displays of the exhibition entitled Ľudovít Štúr (1815 – 1856) – Reformer of the Slovak Society, which opened in January this year at Bratislava Castle, is a sketch of Štúr’s first monument built on his grave in Modra in 1872. The sketch comes from the stone-cutting workshop of Franz Feigler in Bratislava, which designed and built the monument. This remarkable document was unknown to the public. The sketch is part of the document file for the foundation for building the Štúr monument, which can be found in the archival funds of Matica slovenská (Slovakia’s national cultural heritage and research institution, ed. note) in Martin.
In February 1859, writer Pavol Dobšinský suggested an idea in the Friend of School and Literature magazine to collect means for building the first monument at the grave of Ľudovít Štúr, who died in Modra on January 12, 1856. The proposal was met with a great response and 1,182 golden ducats were collected by 1863. The ideas on how the monument should look, however, differed. In august 1864, the money collected by Dobšinský, as well as smaller collections put together by donors in individual regions, were handed over to the newly formed national cultural institution in Martin – Matica slovenská. Despite enough being collected, the intention to build Štúr’s monument had stayed on paper for years.
The construction had finally started at the beginning of 1872. The committee of Matica slovenská organised it, chaired by evangelical priest Daniel Minich from Modra. The stone-cutting workshop of Franz Feigler in Bratislava, which was chosen by the committee to build the monument, was one of the most renowned for miles around. Minich recorded the works progress in a letter and adjoining documents, which he sent after the monument was completed to the chairman of Matica slovenská, Jozef Kozáček, on December 9, 1872. Attached to the letter was the Feigler’s sketch of the monument. It was designed in the shape of a neo-renaissance monument obelisk, 9 feet and three inches high (circa 277.5 cm).
Following the initiative of the Evangelical church in Modra, the original 1872 monument of Štúr and several others were removed to the cemetery’s walls in 1947. The monument is still there, however in a very neglected condition and literally calls for help. Hopefully the Slovak government that announced the year of 2015 to be the Year of Ľudovít Štúr will hear this call.
The orphanage building, designed by significant Slovak architect Dušan Samuel Jurkovič and built from charitable gifts in 1913 still stands in Modra on 10 Vajanského Street. A proposal has been currently made to announce it a national cultural monument.
The orphanage was founded in 1905 and until a specialised building was erected, it provisionally resided in private houses. The architect of the new house, Dušan Jurkovič worked in Modra. His family lived there, as well as his friends and his older brother Vladimír, who was at the parish church in Kráľová. Volunteers from all around Hungary, later Czechoslovakia, contributed to the construction and up-keep of the orphanage. It was one of a few institutions that functioned for decades thanks to the financial as well as non-financial supports of individuals as well as institutions.
The Evangelical Church started helping the orphans at the end of the 19th century. Apart from the human aspect, their intention was to also teach the chidren their mother language. Thanks to Pavol Zoch, the evangelical church in 1905 registered the orphanage under its name and started to collect money across the whole former Upper Hungary. The institution, with the official name Orphanage of the Modra’s Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession was founded within four months, in provisional conditions, when widow Mária Hýlová offered them the rooms of her house for free. She became the first mother of the orphanage. At the beginning, there were five children aged between 5 to 11.
The orphanage rules specified the rights and responsibilities for accepting an orphan into this institution. The orphanage could only take care of the children until they finished primary school. After that they started an apprenticeship or work. The institution also granted exceptions for talented children. In 1907, the founder and administrator of the orphanage, Pavel Zoch, died and his nephew, Samuel Zoch took over the orphanage. Famous Slovak poet Ján Smrek (originally Ján Čietek) was among his first foster children.
The idea to build the new orphanage building became real after the family of Dubovskýs dedicated their own mill to the institute, which the evangelical church decided to reconstruct. The ceremonial opening took place on May 28, 1913. The orphanage had a capacity of around 80 beds. There were 56 children in 1915 and by the end of 1918 the number increased to a steady 78. During the Second World War they hid Jewish children there, secretly converting their names to Slovak. This way, the then administrator of the orphanage Karol Gábriš saved 25 children.
The orphanage was abolished in 1951. General Bishop’s Office found a temporary residence there, but since 1954 it belonged to the Evangelic Theological Faculty. The building became the state property in 1962 and served various purposes. In the 1990s it was returned to the evangelical church in Modra, which has been renovating it since 2013 together with the civic association Modranská Beseda (Modra Meeting).