Vlkolinec is a remarkably intact unitary settlement of a characteristic central European type with log-built architecture, which is often found in mountainous areas. The layout of the town has remained virtually unchanged and the architectural style has been fully retained. There are 45 unaltered buildings in the ensemble, retaining many early constructional features. It is the best preserved and most comprehensive set of traditional vernacular buildings in the Slovak Republic. It has preserved its ancient appearance with remarkable fidelity: although it is now in its 19th-century guise, Vlkolinec is essentially the same as it has been for a much longer period.
There was an early Slav settlement on the site from the Burgwall (walled settlement) period (10th-12th centuries AD). The first documentary record dates from 1376, and in a document of 1469 reference is made to five named streets. In 1675 there were only four homesteads and five residences of servants of the nearby Likava manor, of which Vlkolinec always seems to have been a fief. A decree of 1630 suggests that the name derives from the important charge laid upon the villagers to maintain the wolf-pits in good order. The present settlement consists almost entirely of buildings from the 19th century.
The characteristic houses of Vlkolinec are situated on the street frontages of narrow holdings, with stables, smaller outbuildings, and barns ranged behind them. The main street, which is on a comparatively steep slope, forks in the centre of the village. Parts of the northern end of the village were destroyed by fire in the Second World War and have not been rebuilt. A canalized stream flows through the village. The houses are of the traditional central Slovak timber-built (Blockbau) type. This consists of log walls on stone footings, the walls being coated with clay and whitewashed or painted blue. Over 50% of them have three rooms; some are smaller and others double. The roofs are pitched and semi-hipped, and were originally covered with wooden shingles. They are entered from elongated yards shared with several other houses.
There are 47 traditional farmhouses of this type and a shop and schoolhouse from the end of the 19th century. The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary dates from 1875, but the belfry was built in 1770.
One especially interesting feature of the settlement is the fact that the parcels of land that surround it retain the elongated strip shape characteristic of medieval land allotment over most of feudal Europe. Outside these lie the areas of common land and forest which are also essential elements of the feudal landscape (although these have been substantially altered in later centuries through forestry and pasturage).
Vlkolínec has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.