Bíňa – church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

History

   The church was built around 1200 as part of the Premonstratensian monastery, founded by comes Omodej, before he set out on a crusade alongside King Andrew II in 1217 or 1218. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the nearby lands and the abandoned monastery were ruled by the Turks. The monastery complex was captured in 1683 by the Polish army, which led to the destruction of most of the buildings. The renovation took place in 1722-1732, when the nave and the vestibule were vaulted again. During it, the baroque reconstruction of the church was carried out (transformed windows in the nave, porch and side chapels, added southern sacristy), and in the second half of the nineteenth century, another modernization, carried out in a quite arbitrary way in the neo-Gothic style. It caused so much opposition that in the years 1896-1898 further renovation works were carried out. The building was severely damaged during World War II. The explosion destroyed the vestibule, almost the entire north tower and the upper part of the south tower, as well as the nave’s roof. Fortunately, in the years 1951-1955 a comprehensive reconstruction of the monument took place, combined with architectural research.

Architecture

   The church was built as a single-nave building with two towers in the west elevation. From the east, a rectangular chancel was erected with a central apse and two smaller ones from the north and south, added to the one-bay chapels in a pattern similar to a trident.
   The central apse has seven sides, the side ones are pentagonal. Their external façades were divided by blind arcades, and the lighting was provided by relatively high windows (three in the main apse, one on the every side apse). Additionally, the middle apse was decorated with an arcaded frieze.
   The church is unique because of its proportions, because the western part with the porch, towers and internal gallery is longer than the nave with the apse. What’s more, the gallery (matroneum) is a kind of transition between the two-tower front and the nave. The gallery also had an extension in the form of a tribune, occupying the entire western span of the nave. Gallery was probably connected by small portals with floors of the towers, it also had two semicircular altar niches, symmetrically placed in the thickness of the walls, constituting the base of the arcade, which the gallery opened onto the nave. The west façade originally had a large rose window, later covered by a high porch. The inter-tower part was crowned with a cross-ribbed vault.

Current state
 
   The church is one of the most valuable examples of Romanesque architecture in Slovakia, and is also one of the first buildings in Hungary to introduce gothic elements (polygonal apses and the remnants of rib vaults of the nave). Unfortunately, a thorough renovation from the 19th century partially distorted the original layout (upper storey of the western porch), and makes difficult to read the original shape of the interior of the building. Despite this, in the center of the church, rich Romanesque decorations in the form of floral and figural motifs on consoles, heads and bosses have been preserved.
 

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bibliography:
Tomaszewski A., Romańskie kościoły z emporami zachodnimi na obszarze Polski, Czech i Węgier, Wrocław 1974.

Website apsida.sk, Bíňa.