The message of the founders
The Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic celebrates the 60th anniversary of its origin this year. It has seen the period of development (Slovak Monuments Institute 1951 – 1958), the period of great research (Slovak Institute of Monuments Preservation and Nature Protection 1958 – 1981), the period of scientific and technical revolution (State Institute of Monuments Preservation 1981 – 1991), as well as the period of chaos and the search for a new direction (Slovak Institute of Monuments Preservation 1991 – 1994, Monuments Institute 1994 – 1996, National Monuments and Landscape Centre 1996 – 1999, Monuments Institute 1999 – 2002). The decade of the existence of the Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic (2002) will soon be over as well. The author continues in mapping the history of the institutionalised protection of monuments in Slovakia (its beginnings, from 1919 till 1939, were described in the monothematic issue of the Monuments and Museums revue No 4/2009) focussing on the post-war period until the end of the 1950s.
After 1945, and more so, after February 1948, the Czechoslovak state was confronted with a new reality in the field of the cultural heritage protection – it became the owner of a large number of movable and immovable monuments of all kinds, which used to be in the hands of individuals and corporations. In the post-war years, the monuments in Slovakia were disappearing at a catastrophically quick pace and the need to establish an institute, which would focus on their protection, could no longer be overlooked. Two significant personalities of the Slovak monuments preservation helped its creation: Alžbeta Güntherová-Mayerová and Vladimír Wagner. The Slovak Monuments Institute was established by Decree No 9864-I/5, issued by the Education, Science and Art Authority on March 15, 1951, which took effect on January 1, 1951. For almost ten years, it resided in the limited space of the Slovak National Museum at Vajanského nábrežie in Bratislava. Those working at the institute, mainly provided surveying and recording works, based on which the eight town conservation reservations were created (Banská Štiavnica, Bardejov, Kežmarok, Kremnica, Levoča, Prešov, Spišská Kapitula, Spišská Sobota). In the 1950s, the state did not have enough means to carry forward the planned transformation of hundreds of historical houses to purpose-tied and hygienic accommodation or service providing facilities, and therefore there was more destruction than reconstruction of the towns’ historical cores. The protection of monuments was also hindered by the fact that until 1958 there was no law on conservation. The Government Decree No 112/1951 Coll., about the reorganisation of the state care for monuments, did not tackle their protection as a complex set of activities. For example, only five historical buildings were furnished in period styles in Slovakia (Červený Kameň and Krásna Hôrka castles, and Betliar, Antol and Markušovce manor houses), compared to 41 state cultural buildings in the Czech Republic.
The Culture Authority suggested a reorganisation of the Slovak Monuments Institute in 1954, which saw the number of workers rise from 32 to 40. Other changes were related to the legislative adjustment of the monuments protection, when the government, after almost ten years of preparation, finally approved the Conservation Act No 7/1958 Collection of Laws, which regulated the protection of monuments in Slovakia for the next 30 years. The Slovak Monuments Institute changed its name to the Slovak Institute of Monuments Preservation and Nature Protection.
Henrieta Žažová – Martin Bóna
Church of St. Michael in Demandice
The municipality of Demandice is located in the western part of the Ipeľská pahorkatina hills, southeast of the town of Levice. The first written evidence originates from 1291. It mentions the majority landholders in Demandice in medieval times – the noble family of Deméndy, who were among the influential yeoman families of the Hont county. The last male descendant died in the second half of the 16th century and the immovable property became the source of interest for the descendants of the female family branch. During the Turkish expansion in 1663 – 1664 the settlement had no inhabitants. The residents returned to Demandice in the 18th century; several noble families of the middle and lower class lived there (the Simonyis, Blaskovics and others). In the 20th century, the municipality retained its rural character with developed agrarian production and wine making.
The first mention, relating to Demandice with the intention of building a church, comes from 1317. The church was presumably built under the auspices of the Deméndys sometime in 1317 – 1397. Some sources (J. Hudák), however, say that the gothic church from the end of the 14th century was built at the site of an older one, documented in 1298. The bylaws of the Esztergom diocese from 1397 testify to the existence of the Demandice parish church, as does the list of abbots, priors and priests, who in 1516, were interested in participating at the planned provincial synod, which, however, never took place.
After Hungary gained freedom from the domination of the Ottoman Empire, the era of economic expansion and enlightenment reforms started. In bishoprics, the surveys of parish churches were free again, which provided a valuable source for understanding the construction development of sacral architecture. One such survey in 1697 revealed that the Church of St. Michael the Archangel was built of stone, with a roof, and had one altar with the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and one bell. A tower was added to the western façade in 1718 and a crypt with six separate parts was built underneath the entire church. An unfenced cemetery adjoined the church and another one, 400 footsteps away from the church, had three wooden crosses with Calvary figures. The Church of St. Michael the Archangel was seriously damaged in the middle of the 19th century, therefore, a gradual reconstruction took place in the second half of the 19th century. The roof of the tower, along with the interior and exterior of the church, were renovated in 1867. Both the vicarage and the church were damaged at the end of the Second World War. The church was renovated in 1956 – 1957. The last time the interior was restored was in 1997 and the exterior in 2002 – 2005.
Unknown sacral construction of the medieval Nitra
Even such a significant historical town as Nitra can hide an unknown, though no longer existing sacral architecture. There is no mention about the Chapel of St. Peter the Apostle in early or late literature written about Nitra. The archive of the town council, which had been completely preserved since 1680, including fragments of the town registers, was destroyed during the Ottoman occupation and therefore the history of Nitra has to be delved into, from archives of Nitra Chapter House, Nitra bishopric and Nitra county.
The first important information about St. Peter’s Chapel is written in the document of Nitra Chapter House from February 23, 1393. The construction of the chapel could be dated to the second half of the 14th century, sometime between 1320 and 1393, but the patrocinium of St. Peter is very old and suggests the period before the 13th century. It is therefore possible that this building could have stood in Nitra before the 13th century. The Chapel or Church of St. Peter had never been a parish church and that might be the reason why almost no information about this sacral building was preserved.
A remarkable and at the same time last written evidence about it can be found in the statutes of Nitra Chapter House from 1602. Nitra bishop František Forgách did not call it chapel but the Church of St. Peter – ecclesia. The chapel or church with the patrocinium of St. Peter was probably destroyed around 1605. The destruction of this building can be related to the rebelling armies of František Rhédey, who captured the castle and robbed the Nitra cathedral.
The approximate location of the chapel is only marked by the continuity of St. Peter’s patrocinium, which was carried over by the Franciscan monastery and neighbouring Church of St. Peter and Paul in the Upper Town. The new church partially took over the older patrocinium of the medieval chapel from the 13th or 14th century and architecturally seemed to have either absorbed this older building or was built in its close vicinity.
We probably only talk of a smaller sacral building. It was three times registered as capella and shortly before destruction in 1602 as ecclesia. Because the church had lasted for more than two centuries, we can assume that it was not wooden, but proper masonry work. Only an archaeological research can bring more specific information on this unknown sacral building in medieval Nitra.
Church of St. Rosalie in Komárno
According to older cadastral maps, the location of today’s Church of St. Rosalie in Komárno used to be an un-built area for a long time. The map of the town from 1777 documents a protestant (Calvinist and Evangelical) cemetery in its place, which could originate behind the then town walls after 1650, or sooner, after 1598. In 1673, burghers initiated the confiscation of Protestants’ property. The place of their cemetery became a cattle market. Burials, probably had to be moved to a boggy area further north, where the cemetery can be seen on the map from 1777. The cemetery at the market began to deteriorate after 1781 (Joseph II’s Toleration Patent), when the Evangelists along with Calvinists were allowed to build their cemetery next to the Catholic burial ground in the town’s western part.
The new Church of St. Rosalie with Calvary was built in a single constructional phase. This is documented in the preserved project plans, dated to February 11, 1842 (with regard to the construction of the Bratislava Gate in Komárno, designed by Pietro Nobile, it is being assumed that Nobile could have finished the church project around 1839).
The simplicity of the church architecture, with cupola, in the style of late classicism, and the concept of the stations of the cross inside the church area, create a specific character of this building and are one of Komárno’s significant dominants. After the Church of St. Rosalie was built, some parts of equipment from the demolished church with Calvary were transferred into its interior. Probably this was how the baroque altar of the Pieta got there, as did the baroque positive on the organ matroneum and baroque benches in the church nave. It was probably during the later development, when the bell dated to 1812 and possibly coming from a fortress was mounted into the western tower. The original furnishing of the older Calvary also comprised paintings on tinplate from the chapels at the Calvary stations, which were later, in 1840, accompanied with tinplate paintings by J. Schön. Architectural elements made of pink limestone mined at the Tordos municipality, were used for the construction of the church and Calvary. Sheet covering was probably used for the roof.
According to the available literature, the Church of St. Rosalie was consecrated in 1844. This, quite a simple late-classicistic construction has changed only slightly in the course of the following development. What is remarkable, for instance, is the good condition of the preserved windows with original glass. The roof cover on the church was replaced with zinc-coated sheet metal. In 1965, new paintings by Ján Pleidell were added to the Calvary stations and the original ones painted on tinplate were moved inside the church. Radical repair works on the church exterior took place in 1970 and today, the church is undergoing a complex renovation.
Jaroslava Žuffová – Marta Švolíková
Synagogue in Levice
The first mention of Jews was in Levice at the beginning of the 18th century, but we can assume they arrived earlier. In a wider region, the sources talk about them in the middle of the 14th century. The stays and settlements of Jews were restricted by the imperial regulations of 1691, that tried to safeguard mining towns and their surroundings against Jewish tradesmen. Since 1836, Jews mainly from western Slovakia came to settle in Levice. They formed a religious community there in 1840. The sources mention a Jewish house of prayer, a year earlier, in 1839. This was not a synagogue, only a house adjusted to sacral activities.
The Jews built their first synagogue in 1853, or 1854 (this information comes only from literature). The map from 1860 shows a three-wing masonry construction, enclosed on two sides by narrow roads, the eastern of which was built at the location of an extinct stream. The first Levice synagogue was not a solitary building like today’s successor, but was architecturally connected with two other buildings that related to it with their functions (maybe it was a school and a ritual spa). Around 160 Jews lived in Levice in the middle of the 19th century. With the growth of the Jewish religious community (903 members in 1880), the synagogue could no longer accommodate all and therefore a decision came in 1883 to build a new, bigger one that stands today. The new synagogue encompasses 400 seats.
The construction of the new church and school with a janitor flat was approved on February 4, 1883. The municipality had to take a loan for the project, which was repaid in one year. The map from 1889, shows today’s synagogue as a separate entity, which replaced the original three-wing building. It was designed by architect Gustáv Šišák from Kalná nad Hronom. It is a rectangular building with walls divided by flat pilasters at regular intervals. Its interior up to this day consists of a nave with female tribunes and two elevated platforms – one in the middle and one near the sanctuary. The wall painting comes from two style periods, and only the original painting of the vault from 1883 has been fully preserved, without repainting.
The synagogue had served its purpose until 1967, when it became a storage place for furniture. The Union of Jewish Religious Communities sold it to the state. The town has owned it since 1991 and currently works on its repairs with the help of the European Union funds.
Trnava Clarisse sisters in the second half of the 18th century
The Trnava Monastery of the Order of St. Clare was situated in the southern part of the town fortification at the end of Kapitulská Street. The building had medieval foundations and in the course of the centuries was fully reconstructed several times; the last reconstruction took place in the middle of the 18th century. That era’s abbess Klára Berényi initiated the renovation of the existing rooms, construction of the so-called noble tract, reconstruction of the church and furnishing of its interior in baroque style, which has been partially preserved until today. The monastery had a rectangular ground plan. Because of the uneven terrain, the front (newer) part of the building had three floors and the rear (older) tract only two. The farmstead belonging to the monastery and buildings, housing servants and administrators of the monastic property, were situated at the southern wall in the neighbourhood of the church. A garden with fruit trees, which the Clarisse sisters used for rest and entertainment, was also part of the monastic area.
The monastery was entered through a metal gate, behind which spread a spacious atrium. Ambit on the right hand side led to storage rooms, where they kept food mainly produced at the monastery. This part of the ground floor also housed rooms for baking bread, preservation of vegetables and fruits, and production of butter and cheese. A granary with wheat, wine cellar and stock of wood used for fire and cooking were also part of this tract.
Left of the main gate was a tract, which the monastery inhabitants used for the communication with the outside world. The religion strictly obliged the Clarisse sisters to keep the enclosure and therefore, contact with the people from outside was very restricted and under the supervision of the sisters in charge. The visitors were received in parlatorium, a room divided by grates that separated the visitors from the monastery inhabitants. Another contact with the outside world was thanks to a little rotary window in the wall, through which they could send or receive small items.
The central part of the monastery ambit housed a refectory, a spacious room with two doors and seven large windows. The vaults were decorated with paintings and images of saints hanging on the walls. Next to it was a kitchen, through which one could enter the storeroom with kitchen utensils. In front of this room were doors to the cellar which stored vegetables and wooden tubs with water for fish. A pantry situated on the other side of the refectory was part of the infirmarium. It stored equipment for treating the ill – herbs, oils, etc. The ill nuns were resting in one of the three rooms called the big, small and summer infirmariums. The double door at the big infirmarium led to the adjacent chapel, so the ill nuns could watch the mass right from their beds. There was the altar of the St. Cross in the chapel and two large paintings on the sides.
An inseparable part of the monastery complex was the church, even though the nuns could not visit it because of their adherence to theenclosure. They could only attend the inner chancel opposite the main altar on the first floor of the monastery, which was separated from the church by a gilded metal trellis. Apart from the rooms for nuns, confessor and inner chancel, the monastery also contained a few chapels. Today, the rooms of the former monastery of the Clarisse sisters house expositions of the Western Slovak Museum in Trnava.
Architect and his house
The former private villa of architect Dušan Jurkovič in Brno was opened in the spring of 2010 after a complex monument renovation. Two essential steps were taken under the direction of the Moravian Gallery (MG) in Brno: the monument renovation of the building and the assessment of its new function. The renovation and opening of similar buildings to the public is quite common in the Czech Republic, there are several of them in Brno (e.g. the villa designed by architect Mies van der Rohe) and Prague (e.g. the Loos villa). In Slovakia, however, we are still awaiting a similar act.
Architect Dušan Samuel Jurkovič (1868 – 1947), whose work is also known in a wider Central European region, built his own villa in Brno in 1906. He lived there until 1919, when he moved to Slovakia. The villa was more than just a private house; it was designed from the start as a space representing the architect’s way of thinking and working. He even reserved one room for exhibition purposes. After the villa was completed, all of its rooms were open to the public as a manifestation of the architect’s work. Over the years, the villa has changed its owner several times but the purpose remained the same. In 1963 it was announced a cultural monument.
The Moravian Gallery acquired the building in 2006 with the support from the Czech Culture Ministry and the reconstruction was financed thanks to the so-called Norwegian funds. From the beginning, the Moravian Gallery advocated the strategy of the house, not only as a gallery building, but as a house that deserves to be preserved and presented with its art-historical and culture-social qualities. Here we can see a certain parallel with the birthplace of Josef Hoffmann in Brtnice, which is administered by the Moravian Gallery together with MAK Vienna. Curator Martina Lehmanová worked on both of the expositions, which has helped her to become an established expert in early modern architecture and applied art.
Apart from the exposition, the public can also visit the Exploration Centre of Dušan S. Jurkovič. Along with the reconstruction documents, it also contains the bookcase of modern architecture and database of works of architect Jurkovič in a digital version that was put together by the Moravian Gallery in cooperation with the Slovak National Archives and Slovak National Gallery. Many materials are also available online (http://www.moravska-galerie.cz/jurkovicova-vila).
Jozef Tihányi – Michaela Haviarová – Dušan Buran
Medieval wall paintings in Modra
An architectural-historical, art-historical and restoration research took place in the Church of the Birth of St. John the Baptist in Modra (near Bratislava) in the summer of 2011. Although none of its parts are definitely completed, a most significant discovery has already taken place: a large medieval painting of several layers was revealed inside the church nave.
The church is the oldest preserved architectural monument in Modra. The polygonal presbytery, bearing pillars, gothic portal and windows in the nave’s southern wall pointed to the medieval origin before the research. The specialized literature mostly dated the building to the second half of the 14th century. From its origin, it has seen several reconstructions, which largely affected the interior. However, a more accurate idea of its oldest shape remained unclear until the research.
No medieval plasters were preserved in the presbytery, with the exception of a built-in niche, but many were identified in large sizes inside the nave. Figural scenes were painted on the northern wall and partially on the southern wall of the nave, as well as on the sides of the triumphal arch. They are characteristic with the bold red outline on a light foundation. Some areas locally coloured in lighter tones of red and grey suggest that what today is a dominant drawing was a definite level of decoration in the past. Regarding the iconography, the research provides only partial answers. The northern wall of the nave displays scenes from the Passion cycle, of which one can clearly identify the crowd of Jews (from the scene Capture of Christ? Ecce homo?), Flagellation of Christ and mainly the set of Crucifixions, extended by two profane figures kneeling at the bottom of the cross – possibly donors. A fragment of a horse with a rider, destroyed by the construction of the vault at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries and enlargement of the triumphal arch during the presbytery reconstruction in 1763, was discovered on the southern side of the nave’s eastern wall. The probes revealed a large figure with a crown and aureole on the northern wall, amongst the mentioned Passion scenes and Crucifixions.
Acquisition of products from Špania Dolina in the Slovak National Museum – Historical Museum
The acquisition of Slovak objects and documents (slovacica), which originated from the cultural politics of the Slovak government and Slovak Cultural Ministry in order to help search and protect Slovak cultural heritage abroad, has had a significant share on the acquisition activity of the Slovak National Museum-Historical Museum in 2009 and 2010.
The funds of the Historical Museum were thus enriched with a remarkably valuable collection of 24 copper cups and decorative items from Špania Dolina, which refer to the glorious times of copper ore mining in Banská Bystrica and surrounding mining municipalities. In 1620 – 1820, the products of miners and goldsmiths from Špania Dolina (Herrengrund), Ľubietová and Banská Bystrica became sought-after souvenirs in the countries of the Habsburg monarchy and in German cultural environment. They were made of the so-called cement copper, a matter that was mysteriously produced by copper precipitating on iron in mining waters, which was known in Slovakia at the end of the 15th century. Špania Dolina began to use mining waters running through chalcopyrite deposits in 1605, when it was found that they make copper precipitate on iron the same way as mining waters in Smolník. The granulated copper acquired this way, had a fine texture, which was perfect for making glasses and other decorative items. The first known dated item in Slovakia is the half-round glass from 1640, in the collections of the Central Slovak Museum in Banská Bystrica. The production of these souvenirs had always been of a folk character, often quite simple and naïve, the miners did it as an addition to their living. Based on the amateur engraving of the verses, it looks like they also carved the inscriptions themselves. In most cases, the inscriptions were in German, which reflects the language environment of Špania Dolina and other mining and metallurgical settlements around Banská Bystrica. Along with the German inscriptions, there were also some Latin inscriptions on the glasses, as well as a few Slovak ones. The newly acquired collection of the Historical Museum only features German inscriptions.
Typologically, it includes double glasses (Doppelbecher), or wine casks (Fassbecher), half-round glasses, cups with saucers, decorative bowls and boxes from the 2nd half of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century.
Mining and metallurgy in Malužiná
The municipality of Malužiná in the Upper Liptov region can be found in the lower part of the Bocianska valley. Gold was prospected for in the stream of Bocianka, (which divides the valley into eastern and western parts), probably as early as the middle of the 13th century. Nobleman Bohumír, who owned the western part of the valley since 1263, acquired the right to prospect for gold in Bocianka in 1287 from King Ladislaus IV. Bohumír descendants, yeomen from Svätý (later Liptovský) Ján, later inherited the land and the right to mine ores (besides gold they also mined silver, copper, lead, antimony and iron).
King Ferdinand I grouped all the royal mines of central Slovakia under the Imperial Chamber of Lower Austria in Vienna in 1546, which supervised them with the help of the Banská Bystrica Mining Chamber. The land on the right bank of Bocianka went into the hands of the Lehotský yeoman family in the 16th century. They had sufficient income from trading wood and did not need to build mines. The judgement seat of the Liptov region took away their forests in 1629 and attributed them to the Hrádok castle estate. The Court Chamber bought over this estate from its last owner Emanuel Lichtenstein and managed it via Hrádok Chamber since 1731 and via Likava-Hrádok Chamber since 1762.
The Likava-Hrádok Chamber began to mine iron ore in the Malužiná valley in the middle of the 18th century. The traces of the excavation and remains of piles have been preserved up to today. The miners, who dug siderite and hematite in the mines of Široká, Zadná hoľa and Homôlka, lived in the mining settlement of Široká, established around the middle of the 18th century. It was the highest placed mining settlement in Slovakia. Later, the miners from Štiavnica hills came to the Malužiná valley and changed the name of Široká to Hodruša.
To process the ore, the Likava-Hrádok Chamber built an iron smelter and hámor (a power-hammer driven by running water) in 1767, 10 km from the Široká settlement. The settlement of Malužiná began to grow around them. Altogether 114 people worked in the Malužiná iron smelter and the power-hammer facility in 1780. The Viennese Court Chamber built a two-storied brick building – chamber courtyard (Kammerhof) in Malužiná in 1788 for accommodating the administration of forests, mines, smelters, mining court and flats for officers. The deposit for gunpowder (Pulversturm), which stands at the upper end of the municipality up to this date, was added to it at the beginning of the 19th century. A glass smelter (Vitraria Maluzsina) was built in 1840, at the place where part of the iron smelter stood until 1807. It produced cast sheet glass, blown glass decorated with cutting or enamelling, and bottles.
Organisation of the Bratislava dockyard at the end of the 18th century
Ships on various missions sailed through Bratislava from the old days. Many also anchored at its banks to load or unload goods. The city had rapidly developed in the 18th century, which resulted in the need to bring the organisation of the dockyard for merchant ships under stricter control. The city and county administrations had therefore, in the 1780s, introduced a schedule for landing and anchoring of ships at the Danube embankment.
The Danube bank, spreading from the old Jewish cemetery in the place of today’s tunnel, to the bend of the Danube on the eastern part of the town, was divided into nine sectors. Each one was identified with large wooden panels with Roman numbers. The panels had the municipal coat of arms imprinted on them, and three panels in the area under the castle (II, III, IV) also carried the coat of arms of the Pálffy family, who inherited the Bratislava castle estate as well as the area underneath.
In 1787, geodesist Mikuláš Makay crated a general map of the new regulation of the Bratislava dockyard. The only copy of the nicely coloured manuscript map, which measured 42 cm x 28,5 cm, is preserved in the collection of maps of the Vice Regent Council in the Hungarian County Archives in Budapest, with the signature S. 12 Div. XIII. Nro. 119. The map is German, drawn to a scale 1:14 400, and entitled Plan der Schiff Anländung K. K. Freistadt Pressburg. The map’s compendious legend helps us to better understand the organisation of the Bratislava dockyard and character of the ship transport more then two centuries ago.