Spišský Štvrtok – St Ladislaus Church

History

   Church of St. Ladislaus was built in the 13th century, together with the Minorite monastery. In 1473, from the foundation of Stefan Zapolya, the then Spiš zupan, a late-gothic chapel it was supposed to be added to the church. Recent research has, however, shifted the date of its creation a few decades earlier and related to the Thurzon family. Soon after its completion, the building was decorated with wall paintings. In the era of the Reformation, when the church was occupied by Protestants, Catholics had to perform their services in this chapel. Catholics recovered the temple in 1671, although later for several years it was again in the hands of Protestants. In the years 1899-1901 the church underwent renovation, unfortunately maintained in a neo-Gothic style with too much freedom in treating historic elements. In 2020, a comprehensive renovation of the church began.

Architecture

   The church was erected on a hill in the north-western part of the settlement, in the style of the transition between the late Romanesque and Gothic periods. It received a rectangular nave and a slightly narrower, square-like chancel on the eastern side, to which a sacristy and an oval staircase were attached to the north. At the nave, from the west, there was a high, four-sided tower built with facades pierced with slit openings and two-light windows on the two highest floors. The interior of the nave was originally covered with a wooden ceiling or an open roof truss, while a single presbytery bay with a cross-rib vault, similarly to the two bays of the sacristy.
   From the south, a late-gothic chapel was added to the church, higher than the nave and clearly dominant on the southern facade. It received the form of a three-bay structure, closed on three sides in the east, covered with a steep gable roof and decorated with a very rich architectural detail, which included, among others, tracery filling large pointed windows and pinnacles rising from the buttresses surrounding the chapel. The lower part of the chapel was divided with smaller pointed, profiled windows, set on smooth surfaces of the walls, which apparently wore painted decorations.
   The interior of the chapel has been divided into two floors: the upper one in the form of an oratory, and the lower one, partially submerged below the ground level. It was probably supposed to serve as a funeral crypt. The upper part of the chapel was crowned inside with a rich and complex type of Parler’s net vault (which was initiated by the master builder Peter Parler, author of, among others, the vaults in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague) falling on the bundles of wall shafts at the longitudinal walls and single shafts in the eastern closure. In the western part of the oratory there is a richly decorated gallery. The space below it was also crowned with a net vault, which in a unique way converges in the middle in a kind of protruding boss. The lower storey of the chapel is covered with a low stellar vault with an atypical central rib on the axis of the building, which rests on cylindrical shafts by the walls.
   The construction patterns of the Zapolya’s Chapel, in which the basic elements of Gothic were fully applied (maximum lightening of the building, play with light, verticalism) should be found in Sainte Chapelle in Paris, and closer in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. In turn, the Zapolya’s Chapel of Spišský Štvrtok itself became an example for the Zapolya’s Chapel located at the cathedral in the Spišská Kapitula.

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bibliography:
Website apsida.sk, Spišský Štvrtok.
Website zabytkowekoscioly.net, Spiski Czwartek, kościół św. Władysława.