Kostoľany pod Tribečom – St George’s Church

History

   The church was built in the second half of the 10th century. Initially wooden, erected in a post structure, it was quickly replaced by a stone building, decorated with wall paintings at the beginning of the 11th century. At the beginning of the 12th century, a part of the village was mentioned as the property of the Benedictine monastery in Zobor. In the second quarter of the thirteenth century, too many believers forced the enlargement of the building, while in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries quite numerous renovations were carried out, partly forced by technical problems of the building.
   In the sixteenth century, the church was burned and for some time was without a roof. In the 17th century it was repaired, and in 1721 the wooden ceiling was replaced with a vault. In the interwar period the church was already neglected and destroyed. A thorough renovation took place in 1964-1965. The baroque sacristy was demolished, which was replaced by a less-fitting modern annex. In the 90s of the last century, the church once again required repairs. From 2001 to 2003, the romanesque southern portal was restored, the tower was modernized and façades were renovated.

Architecture

   The original pre-romanesque church was erected as a small structure consisting of a rectangular nave measuring 3.7 x 5.1 meters and a chancel in the shape of an irregular trapezoid, about 2.3 x 3.4 meters. The original height of the perimeter walls of the chancel, which was crowned with a barrel vault, was 5.3 meters, while the nave was at least 6.4 meters high. The walls were very irregular and thick about 0.7-0.8 meters. The church was illuminated by three windows of an irregular “egg-shape” in the south and three from the north. A small window also existed in the eastern wall of the presbytery. The entrance portal was located in the west facade. The nave was originally covered by a wooden, open roof truss and separated by three steps from the presbytery. The interior of the church was probably covered with wall polychromes as early as the pre-Romanesque period, while the floor was made of lime mortar decorated with white-gray mosaic.
   In the 13th century, the building was enlarged by adding a new, square nave with a small tower from the west. The original main entrance to the church, which led from the west, was then removed and enlarged, becoming a passage to the nave, while a new entrance was created in the south wall. The added nave was illuminated from the south by two small windows, while on the top floor of the tower there could have been a three-light windows, as indicated by the width of the window opening. Inside, on the west side there was a gallery, supported on the ground floor on three arcades and two columns. Above the central bay was the aforementioned tower, which arcades from three sides opened to the interior of the nave.

Current state

   The church is probably the oldest preserved sacral building in Slovakia, and the frescoes partially preserved in the temple are one of the oldest in Europe. Unfortunately, they suffer from increased humidity. This is a consequence of the addition of a modern annex and modification of the tower, which violated the original ventilation system. The original walls of the tower have survived to the height of the second and partly third floor.

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bibliography:
Baxa P., Bisták P., Borzová Z., Maříková-Kubková J., The Church of St George in Kostoľany pod Tribečom [w:] Swords, Crowns, Censers and Books Francia Media – Cradles of European Culture, red. M.Vicelja-Matijašić, Rijeka 2015.
Stredoveký kostol. Historické a funkčné premeny architektúry, red. Pomfyová B., Bratislava 2015.
Tomaszewski A., Romańskie kościoły z emporami zachodnimi na obszarze Polski, Czech i Węgier, Wrocław 1974.

Website apsida.sk, Kostoľany pod Tribečom.