Cathedrals in Slovakia

St. Martin's Cathedral

Bratislava's three-nave Gothic cathedral is built on the site of a previous, Romanesque church, from 1221. After 1291, when Bratislava was given the privileges of a town, the church was rebuilt to become part of the city walls (its tower served as a defensive bastion). The present church was consecrated in 1452. The interior of the church is large – 69.37 metres long, 22.85 metres wide and 16.02 metres high – and feat ...
Founded: 1452 | Location: Bratislava, Slovakia

St. Francis Xavier Cathedral

The St. Francis Xavier Cathedral was first time mentioned as a gothic chapel at this location in the so-called Königsberger"s testament from 1503. It was the only place of Roman Catholic worship during the 16th century, when Banská Bystrica was in the hands of the Protestants. In 1647 a few Jesuits settled here and started the Catholic reform of the town and its neighbourhood. During the years 1695&ndash ...
Founded: 1702-1715 | Location: Banská Bystrica, Slovakia

St. Elisabeth Cathedral

St. Elisabeth Cathedral is Slovakia"s biggest church, as well as one of the easternmost Gothic cathedrals in Europe. The record on the existence of Košice, dating from 1230, is connected with that of the existence of the rectory church. According to historic data the present-day cathedral was built on the site of an edifice of older date which was consecrated to St. Elisabeth as well. It was referred to in the docu ...
Founded: 1378 | Location: Košice, Slovakia

Holy Trinity Cathedral

The Church of the Holy Trinity, since February 2008 Holy Trinity Cathedral, was built around 1400. The Žilina castle is assumed to be already there as early as the 13th century, of which there are documents from 1318 to 1454. It was originally consecrated to Mary, but in the 16th century it was reconsecrated as the Church of the Holy Trinity. The chapel of John of Nepomuk was added in 1762. The church burned down three t ...
Founded: c. 1400 | Location: Žilina, Slovakia

Spisskà Kapitula

Spišskà Kapitula, a unique fortified ecclesiastical ensemble, began as a small fortified settlement overlooking Spišské Podhradie in the 12th century. It was the site of the residence of the Provost of the castle, in the no longer extant St Martin"s monastery, and later became a capitulary. This was destroyed in by Tatars in 1241-1243, but the pilgrim"s chapel, in rotunda form and dedicated to ...
Founded: 1285 | Location: Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia

St. Emmeram's Cathedral

St. Emmeram"s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the Nitra Castle precinct. It was originally built in the Gothic style and is composed of many parts. The upper church dates from 1333-1355. The rotunda dates back to the 11th-12th century and houses a silver reliquary made in 1674. Another reliquary in the cathedral houses some relics of Saint Cyril. The lower church was built between 1621-1642. Later ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nitra, Slovakia

St. John the Baptist Cathedral

St. John the Baptist Cathedral is the first purely Baroque building built in present-day Slovakia. It is part of a complex of academical buildings. The donor of this Cathedral, Miklós Eszterházy, entrusted its construction to the Italian masters Antonio and Pietro Spazzi in 1629. The not-yet-finished cathedral was consecrated in 1637. The single-nave two-tower Cathedral with straight seal of sanctuary has a ...
Founded: 1629-1637 | Location: Trnava, Slovakia

Assumption of Mary Church

Assumption of Mary Church or the Rožňava Cathedral was built in 1304 and remodeled during the 15th and 16th centuries. During the 16th and 17th century the church was owned by Catholics and Protestants. With the establishment of the episcopal office in Roznava, the church became the cathedral. Subsequently extensive interior modifications were done. In 1836 the southern aisle was changed to the Chapel of Saint Neita ...
Founded: 1304 | Location: Rožňava, Slovakia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.