Smrečany – Our Lady Church

History

   The church in Smrečany was built at the end of the 13th century (the village itself was first recorded in the document of King Andrew III of 1299), or in the last years of the first half of the 14th century at the latest. At the beginning of the 15th century, its interior was decorated with wall paintings, and at the beginning of the 16th century, a timber ceiling was decorated. In 1574, the church passed into the hands of Evangelicals, and finally returned to Catholics in 1707. During the baroque period, it was not subjected to any significant modifications, apart from the helmet of the tower and a few interior fittings. In the years 1954-1956 the building underwent a thorough renovation.

Architecture

   The church was built as a typical Gothic, Liptov village church with an extensive layout. It received a single nave, slightly narrower and square chancel on the eastern side, a western four-sided tower and a sacristy on the northern side of the chancel.
   The façades of the church were pierced by pointed windows, quite large and wide, filled with traceries on the southern side, narrower, with smaller openings in the eastern wall of the chancel and sacristy. According to medieval customs, the northern side of the church had no openings. This tradition was undoubtedly of practical importance, because the most sunlight could be obtained from this side and from the east. The reason could also be medieval mysticism, which reserved the northern side for evil powers, from which it was necessary to separate. Initially, the church was not reinforced with buttresses, only the sacristy could serve as the support for the chancel wall.
   Inside, the presbytery was topped with a cross-rib vault over a single bay, while the nave was covered with a timber flat ceiling, decorated with Gothic-Renaissance paintings from the beginning of the 16th century. They depict plant motifs as well as the struggle of St. George with the dragon or hunting a bear. On the north wall of the nave there is a painting of St. Helena and Barbara, and three other saints next to them: Margaret, Dorothy and Catherine. The Virgin Mary was painted closer to the chancel arch, and the apostle with a book in its northern part. On the northern wall of the chancel, St. John the Evangelist was ilustrated. The painting was also placed on the tympanum of the southern portal.

Current state

   A large part of the original gothic furnishings and decorations have been preserved in the church. These are wall paintings, three late gothic altars and a medieval pulpit. Carved wooden stalls from the 15th century have also been preserved in the presbytery. The stone elements are represented by the Gothic portals and the base of the baptistery. The original gothic traceries have survived in the nave and presbytery windows.

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bibliography:
Website apsida.sk, Smrečany.