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

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.