KATARÍNKA work plan for the summer season 2015

As usual, we continue saving St. Catherine’s ruins during the summer season 2015.

What awaits us this year?

Almost final preparations to let tourists access the tower, such as

  • repair vaultings of large windows on the 5th floor of the tower,
  • paving tiles on the 6th floor with scenic view.
  • and put together a missing floor on the 2nd floor and a completion of wooden staircase.

From the last year, inside the Church we continue with

  • repairing of pillar caps in the aisle of the church,
  • masonry of the long wall in the sanctuary,
  • and we also plan to carry out a masonry “experiments” on the northern wall of the monastery.

We will also go further with works in the monastery, especially

  • repairing of the crown of tall thin wall in the middle of the monastery,
  • and with conservating of masonry.

Archeology doesn’t sleep either. There will be probably still going thorough research of the second crypt in the middle of the church and also a small probe in corner of the tower will be carried out.

Experimental procedure of conservation (2013)

In august 2013 we conducted an experimental procedure of conservation. We put a layer of loam and plants on the top of the walls of the monastery. By this way conditions for mortar are improved so it can get that right consistence and the life expectancy of such wall is expanded, as well. This method was developed at Katarínka.

If you want to learn more, don´t hesitate and watch the video below (in Slovak).

Summer working season 2013 is over

The summer season at Katarínka has been successfully completed. This, however, does not mean that Katarínka cannot be visited anymore. Quite the contrary: right now, when the autumn is so beautiful and multicoloured, the place is really worth visiting.

We would like to share with you a summary of how we got on and what we have managed so far. Here is some brief information on our most important summer (especially working) activities.

Conservation works on the tower

The masonry and grouting took place on the crown of the tower – on its roof at the height of 363 metres above sea level, 30 metres above the ground. On the highest 6th floor, it was necessary to ensure the static equilibrium and fix the wall that will be used as a railing of the tower.

The masonry was also done on the individual storeys inside the tower. All storeys are already completed and masoned (there are 5 storeys plus the roof). The masonry was done on the spots where the bearing beams of the storeys were embedded – in stripes of 50 cm above and 50 cm below the floor – in order to complete the floors and to make a ladder.

In the next few years, our task will be to do the grouting on the mezzanine level.


We managed to craft the stairs (some are fitted between the 4th and 5th floor, others are prepared). The floors were done too – the ones on the fourth and fifth floors are already installed thanks to the intensive planing of wooden boards during our two-week summer camps.

Archaeological research

The presbytery and the crypt were discovered. “We have it! Finally, in the crypt…” Elorien and our archaeologist Ivana Kvetánová were both very pleased. The ceiling of the crypt was crushed, and the whole crypt was buried under the debris. We found the remains of the marble altar, which is likely to have been situated above the crypt . Occasionally, we came across some bones and splinters. The crypt is divided into two storeys with two internal partition walls. Six grave sites were probably situated there. Based on the historical sources, we can assume that the crypt was robbed several times in the past, or that the descendants transferred their ancestors’ remains elsewhere.

Conservation of the monastery

After a couple of years, we came back to work on the monastery. It was the drilling and anchoring of the statically vulnerable parts – the internal partition walls. We also did the complete re-masoning of the crowns of the walls and the grouting of the monastery, which is to be continued next year.

The highlight of this season was the disassembling and the re-vaulting of the destroyed arches, the repair of the brick shutters and the grassing of the crowns of all the repaired walls.

See also photos – The monastery before and after. Especially the completely disintegrated vault, whose possible fall during the winter 2012/2013 was the subject of a bet. It did not fall at last 😉

Of course, Katarinka is not just about work. It’s about all of its 4 pillars, that is the people, community, spirituality as well as the place itself, which got prettier again last year.

Archaeology in 2012

The research was focused on the Gothic chapel that was localized exactly under the presbytery of the later Franciscan church. Our goal was to obtain as much details of chapel’s history as possible, but we also did not avoid other objects of the research that concluded with conservation work.

The Gothic chapel and the research of the presbytery of the Baroque church

We tried to find the original entrance to the chapel in the interior of the presbytery. We expected it to be north-facing because of the best accessibility. Unfortunately, the holes dated back to the 20th century (due to the filling).

The research constantly affirms the importance of the reef that supported the Gothic chapel and later the Franciscan church. We excavated the cavern in the west-facing wall of the presbytery.

Surprisingly, there used to be an even older building than the Gothic chapel at this site. Its foundation was discovered under the foundation of the Gothic chapel. The only accessible place where we could excavate the object was the interior of the „cave“ – we worked in a dark, cold and dangerous space. As our statics engineer M. Sc. Kohút and the Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic (Trnava) recommended, we decided to wall the „cave“ up (in fact, it was dug by robbers) using bricks laid into clay instead of mortar.

The arch and the remains of the side altar

We excavated the trench under the arch of the Baroque church trying to find the wall that could affirm the enlargement of the chapel in the north – building up the Baroque church gradually.

We identified a door case made of stone and also stone foundations probably belonging to the side altar (photo, left).

The monastery and its windows

We know the monastery’s appearance thanks to historical illustrations. The archaeological research during the last seasons persuades us that these illustrations are quite inaccurate and schematic. Except for window cases, we also identified the intersection of the north-facing and east-facing walls of the main courtyard of the monastery.

Covering and backfilling of the trenches

Finally, we prepared Katarínka for winter, covering and backfilling all the trenches that were opened in the summer of 2012. In 2013 the excavations will continue…

More information about archaelogical research at Katarinka and detailed research report from 2012 can be found in the Scientific works and research section.
© Michal Slivka 2012, © Ivana Kvetánová 2012