The church of St Michael was built in the second quarter of the thirteenth century, in the village of Veľká Tŕňa, which was first mentioned in written sources in 1220 (record referred to the territorial dispute between the owner of Třňa, Absalom from the Ratha family, and the vassal from the royal castle Zemplín).
In the fifteenth century church underwent a Gothic reconstruction, which mainly affected the chancel. During the Reformation, the church began to be used by the Calvinists. In 1936 a thorough reconstruction of the temple took place, during which the entire chancel was pulled down and a small porch was erected in front of the southern portal. The first archaeological research, that explained the original form of the building, took place in the years 2003-2004.
The Romanesque church was built at an elevated position above the eastern edge of the village, on the slope of the Zemplín hills. It was built as a single-nave building with a semicircular apse on the east side and a four-sided slender tower over the west facade. Thin bricks were used in its construction, used everywhere, even to create architectural details, except for the gallery heads and portals: southern and western. The external facades were richly decorated with friezes and lesenes, with the frieze having a slightly different form on each side of the church. Two Romanesque portals led in: southern and western. The southern one was characterized by a stepped jamb and a tympanum depicting a half figure of the Virgin Mary with the Child, accompanied by two angels on the sides.
Inside the Romanesque church on the west side of the nave, a gallery was erected along its entire width. It was separated from the nave by a full wall, which on both levels was pierced by three openings with arcades. The three lower arcades were supported by massive cylindrical columns in the middle and half-pillars on the sides, which were a continuation of the moulding of the arcades recess. The space under the gallery was crowned with a transverse barrel vault. The upper part of the arcade was in the middle based on pillars with faults in the corners and abacuses, i.e. four-sided stone slabs which were the highest part of the column heads. The original Romanesque entrance to the gallery led along the northern wall of the nave, somewhere near the chancel arch. Later, a Gothic staircase led along the southern wall of the nave directly to the stairs in the thickness of the wall of the eastern wall of the gallery. The walls of the church were originally covered with colorful polychromes, while the floor consisted of square tiles made of bricks.
In the 15th century, the apse was removed and replaced by a long, late-Gothic presbytery with a three-side ending in the east. Its walls from the outside were strengthened with late Gothic buttresses. In the southern wall of the nave, two Romanesque windows were also replaced with new, tall, Gothic windows.
The Romanesque nave and the tower have survived to this day. Unfortunately, the eastern part of the church did not survive, neither the original Romanesque apse nor the late Gothic presbytery. During the last renovation, most medieval architectural details were reconstructed and supplemented: pilaster strips, friezes, two-light windows of the tower and partly the southern portal (the original western portal has not survived). The most characteristic element of the church today is its restored Romanesque gallery.
Mencl V., Stredoveká architektúra na Slovensku, Praha 1937.
Tajkov P., Sakrálna architektúra 11 – 13 storočia na juhovýchodnom Slovensku, Košice 2012.
Website apsida.sk, Veľká Tŕňa.