Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Route of Medieval Churches in Szatmár county

Csengersima,  parish church 
A major research project, aimed at surveying and documenting the churches of medieval Szatmár country, was completed last week, and its results are now largely available on the web. As the territory of medieval Szatmár country is today divided between Romania and Hungary, the research project was a joint Hungarian-Romanian one, funded by the EU. The project documented a large number of medieval churches, including some only known from excavations. The area preserved some important medieval buildings, such as the Romanesque basilica of Ákos (Acâş), but most surviving buildings are small medieval parish churches.

The project consists of the following main elements: Mapping out a thematic route of medieval churches in the Hungarian-Romanian border area (in historic Szatmár county), which is the first common thematic route of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg and Satu Mare counties. This route is supported by very useful and informative material: maps, brochures and on-site information. The route includes 30 medieval churches - 20 of them located in the Hungarian county of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg, while another 10 in the Romanian country of Satu Mare. 

A brand new website was also developed, which contains all the necessary information about the route and the churches. This website is available in Hungarian, Romanian and English versions. English readers should maybe start on this page. The website - even though the English-language texts are only summaries of the Hungarian versions - provides ample information in English on the medieval buildings of the region, and is thus highly recommended.
Csenger, parish church 

In addition to this touristic project, significant art historical research was also carried out during the last few years. A series of conferences were held, dedicated to the project and to the monuments involved, and a major new book was also published. This book, titled Középkori egyházi építészet Szatmárban (Medieval ecclesiastical architecture in Szatmár County), was edited by Tibor Kollár and contains a number of analytic essay about medieval architecture in the region, as well as individual studies on about 40 monuments. Most are medieval churches, but the book - just as the touristic route - also includes a few later monuments, built for the Uniate Greek Catholic population of the region. Unfortunately, only two of the churches, Bere and Nagyar, preserve some of their medieval wall-paintings.

Nagyar, fragments of a Passion cycle 
The full text of this book has also been made available online, in a Hungarian and a Romanian version. Even though the book is not available in English, it is worth taking a look at the PDF version, at least for the wealth of illustrations. These photos illustrate a large assortment of Romanesque and Gothic stone carvings, from churches which are no longer standing, and are thus not part of the touristic route. In addition to his work on the medieval heritage of the southern region of the former Hungarian Kingdom, editor Tibor Kollár has now put together another very important book on the north-eastern corner of medieval Hungary, a region which is still full of undiscovered treasures.

Agony in the Garden - relief from the former
church of Nagybánya (Baia Mare, RO)

The following links will make browsing the website easier:

Start browsing the website here for quick access to information on the churches. A PDF brochure on each church can also be downloaded from the website.

These are the links for the PDF versions of the new book: Hungarian version; Romanian version (approximately 15 MB each).

You can also watch a film (with English commentary) on the region and the churches, if you navigate to this introductory page.

Finally, I have already reported on the monuments of Szatmár county in an earlier post (although the links to the website are not working at the time of writing).

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