Oldest photo of Katarínka found

In 2018, a real gem for our organization was discovered. In the Slovak National Archive in Bratislava, the oldest surviving photograph (so far) of Katarínka, dated 1904, was discovered. The photo is located in the photo album of the Pálffy family, who are probably also present in the photo itself. It is an irreplaceable source of information for our organization, as the photograph provided us with new, previously unknown facts about Katarínka. This photograph was first presented internally to members and associates of our organization O.Z. Katarínka, during the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Katarínka. But now we are making it available to the general public for the first time.

katarinka_1904_foto

The timing of the photo (1904) is really fortunate for us. This is because only a year later after the photo was taken, in 1905, the four statues which were originally placed at the top of the tower, were thrown down from the top of the tower into piles of wood and hay and then transported to the vicinity of the Pálffy tomb at the cemetery in Smolenice, where they still can be found to this very day. So thanks to this photo, we can now see that the statues were not on the corners of the tower, as originally thought, but were located in the middle of its walls instead.

These three interesting parts of Katarínka can be seen on the photo, which are not standing anymore:

  • Brick roof of the tower with holes and decorative volutes on the edges.
  • Gable of the presbytery on the far left of the photo and the eastern wall of the presbytery with the imprint of the monastery roof. Today, nothing of them stands.
  • The northern wall of the monastery (to which wooden stables are added on the photo) – only a 1 meter high wall remains.
Detail on the original roof of the tower and the statues which were placed there originally.

Originally it was also assumed that the shape of the roof was completely different. One of the assumptions was the so-called pear-shaped roof, like most churches in Trnava have, but these ideas were wrong. Thanks to this photograph, it is possible to update the digital visualizations of what the whole church and monastery might have looked like. The photograph also provides administrative advantages in case of possible reconstruction of these no longer standing parts, as the authorities usually have problems allowing the reconstruction of parts where it is not fully documented how they originally appeared. However, the reconstruction of the roof is not considered at the moment and probably even in the future.

Katarínka thanks Tomáš Haviar for providing the photo.

For extra curious, you can download the photo in full size, here on this link.

Volunteers are rescuing Katarínka for 25 years

The Katarínka project aimed at restoration and conservation of the St. Catherine of Alexandria Church and Monastery ruins nearby Trnava celebrates 25 years. During these years, 1830 volunteers took turns at Katarínka and helped during the two-week camps to rescue the ruins. The project aims not only to restore the cultural monument, but also to form young people by giving them opportunity to reasonably spend their free time in summer.

In 1994, a group of students went hiking and visited not only the nearby Dobrá Voda Castle ruins, but also Katarínka. The abandoned and desolate place made an impression on the 21-year-old Peter Herceg, who decided to take steps to rescue this place. His friends also liked the idea and supported it and a year later, the first volunteers came to the St. Catherine Church and Monastery.

Peter Herceg, the founder of the Katarínka project, said these words at the 25th anniversary of the project:

“It is a great miracle for me that we have been working to rescue Katarínka for 25 years and even after 25 years there are volunteers willing to help. Hundreds of volunteers and several generations have been involved and today we can see great results. For example, the church tower underwent reconstruction and was awarded the Monument of the Year Prize for 2017. The greatest satisfaction for me are almost 2,000 volunteers who left part of their lives in the walls of Katarínka.”

In the first years of the project existence, volunteers cleared the church interior, built the camp, and improved the surroundings.

In the following years, other works gradually started: masoning, filling of cracks, several tons of lime were slaked, and the first archaeologic works started. In 2010, volunteers started with reconstruction of the hollow church tower. Hand-carved oak beams were added and in 2017 the tower reconstruction was completed and after the final inspection opened for tourists. In 2018, the biggest crypt in the church nave, which had been archaeologically researched, was reconstructed.

This year (2019), volunteers finished the archaeologic research in the church nave: coins were found, as well as the original floor tiling and the foundation of a small altar. The southeast part of monastery was being conserved: hand-carved oak beams were added and the enclosure wall of the monastery garden was completely conserved. In the next working season, the rescue works on the monastery and the archaeologic research will continue. During the summer season, volunteers guided thousands of visitors, as trips to Katarínka have become increasingly popular in the last years and the reconstructed tower attracts many visitors.

During one weekend in November, volunteers celebrated 25 years of the project in Dechtice. The Katarínka project is organized by the Association of Christian Youth Communities and Katarínka NGO with cooperation of Dechtice municipal authority and the Franciscan Order. All generations of volunteers, their friends and supporters participated in the celebration. The celebration included a thanksgiving holy mass in the St. Catherine parish church, cultural program, presentation of 25 years of work, videos, awarding of volunteers, and also a party for almost 250 participants until early morning hours.

Katarínka just won two awards!

We are glad to announce that our project was awarded two prizes. One of them, Fenix – Cultural landmark of the year 2017 , for our work on restoration and conservation of the tower of the ruin of St. Catherine’s Church that was once part of St. Catherine’s Monastery dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, near Dechtice village. Our project representatives were awarded by this prize on November 29th, 2018, by the Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic. The second prize that we were awarded, is the Most picturesque restored cultural landmark of the year, a public voting contest organized by SPP and SPP foundation.

 

The appraised tower restoration, which we realized between 2010 – 2017, is a truly unique accomplishment. Hundreds of our volunteers from all parts of Slovakia and even from abroad participated in this restoration without any expectation of financial compensation, using traditional methods, which were used back in the days when the tower was originally built between 1700 – 1714. The tower was opened to public in the summer of 2017 and can be visited during the summer season with our tourist guides. The lookout at the top of the tower (30 meters high) provides some very spectacular views.

 

These awards further prove that our project is an example of partnership between volunteers and professionals. The restoration was realized in partnership with researcher and preservationist Jaroslava Žuffová, structural designer Vladimír Kohút, archaeologists Ivana Kvetánová and Michal Slivka, carpenters Miroslav Čársky and Michal Hrčka and many others. For the village Dechtice, this is the second Fenix award awarded for a monument located within their municipality. In 2015, the rotunda of the Church of All Saints in Dechtice was awarded, dating back to the 12th century.

The year 2018 is marked by the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of establishment of St. Catherine’s Monastery in 1618 by the count Krištof Erdödy and his wife Barbora Thurzova. Public celebrations were held during the summer on 5th of July during the Katarínka Open Door Day. Further celebrations were held just a couple of days ago, on November 17th, in the historic manor house in Chtelnica, where the house of Erdödy lived and where they signed the establishing documents.

Besides 40 professionals and invited public figures, more than 120 of our volunteers participated. As a part of the celebrations a professional convention was held, summarizing 24 years of work, which included very interesting results from archaeology, history, art, geophysics, anthropology and other fields.

The event Night of Churches at Katarinka was a great success, the weather was unexpectedly good and number of visitors high

We joined the project The night of churches on the 25th of May.

About 300 visitors and supporters took part in this event. The evening program started with the holy mass.
As the time advanced, the dark and silence settled, what was perfect for The String Quartet ZOE and their chamber concert.
Between the walls of the church, we could hear the well-known pieces, as f. e. Four Seasons from Antonio Vivaldi and other pieces from J. S. Bach.
The program was concluded with a night tourist visit through the Saint Catherine´s church, monastery and its surroundings.
Before the program started, there was an opportunity for tourists to enter the church tower and go on the top. Throughout the program, the visitors could help themselves with tea and snack.

We got the award! National Award of ICOMOS Slovakia for long-term activities

On Friday April 20, we, the volunteers from the civic association Katarínka, received at the Bratislava Castle two nominations and one of the two main ICOMOS Slovakia awards – Heritage for the Future 2017. The national committee ICOMOS Slovakia awarded the main prize in the category Extraordinary Activity Leading to Increasing Awareness of the Monuments Fund Values and Strengthening the Public Awareness of These Values to the hundreds of volunteers from the Katarínka project – for saving the ruins of the Monastery and Church of St. Catherine.

At the ICOMOS award ceremony at the Bratislava Castle, five volunteers from Katarínka, representing various generations – from the founders of the activities from 1994 up to the current hard workers and leaders of the project – received not only the main prize, but also a nomination in the category Renewal of a Monument by Using the Traditional Construction Technologies for their project Reconstruction of the Church Tower of the Franciscan Monastery Katarínka. We see the award and the nomination as evaluation of our long-term selfless work to save the precious and large monument – Monastery of St. Catherine of Alexandria located near Dechtice and Naháč, where hundreds of volunteers every year move to the history without mobile phones, internet, or electricity and this year for the 24th time they will work on conservation and saving of Katarínka. Tower reconstruction, which was also nominated for an award, allowed in 2017 to make the tower accessible to visitors as a sightseeing tower. The floors and stairs in the tower were faithfully reconstructed from the hand-sculpted beams using the traditional techniques.

The complete press release (in Slovak) »»