Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (Kaplna)


The connection between the village (Kaplna) and the church is shown by its name, derived from the word chapel. However, this was probably the predecessor of the current building, as the village was certainly founded earlier than in the first half of the 13th century, when, according to experts, the current church was built. It is a perfect example of the gradual transition from the romanesque style to the gothic style. Its dedication to St. Elizabeth is considered to be the first ever documented in the territory of the former Hungary. The size of the church was unusually large for a village with an estimated population of 100 to 200 inhabitants at that time. They started to build it as a typical three-nave romanesque building with a two-tower west facade. However, the square presbytery was built in the early gothic style with typical elements – a cross vault with massive prismatic ribs and windows with a lancet arch. Today we can admire the building in its original form – with an unplastered brick facade in combination with pale pink plaster, which would look even better with a roof shingles.

During the Turkish wars in the 16th century, the church was damaged and ruined; according to a legend from the 18th century, there were already trees growing in it, exceeding the height of the outer walls. The building was restored around the first quarter of the 17th century. It was roofed at that time and the nave was given a new flat ceiling. Probably during this restoration the south-western tower was demolished. It underwent an extensive baroque reconstruction in the second half of the 18th century. The outer walls of the nave were then lowered by about 60 – 70 cm and the nave was vaulted and re-roofed. The facades were also restored in baroque style, with the original windows and the south portal bricked up and replaced with new, larger windows and an entrance.

Some time later the church was plastered from the outside for the first time. The building was restored between 1960 and 1962. At that time, among other things, plaster was removed from the facades and medieval building elements were uncovered. It still serves the local parish of the Roman Catholic Church and the needs of the nearby Salesian centre. For many years, the church in Kaplna village benefited from another exceptional feature – the precisely documented year of its construction, which only a minimum of our medieval buildings can be proud of. In 1244, the King Belo IV of Hungary granted permission to the brothers named Vlk and David of Kaplna village to build a church dedicated to St. Elizabeth. However, it turned out to be fake, produced about a hundred years later. Furthermore, the research did not confirm the authenticity of the second oldest document from 1313, in which the church of St. Elizabeth is also mentioned. Approximately 400 000 bricks were used to build the church. Stone was used only for the window lining and the south portal. The brickwork was unusually not plastered in the interior of the presbytery, which in the Middle Ages was usually heavily decorated with frescoes. However, the painting was found only around the additionally created rectangular-shaped pastophorium. The quality of the masonry in the preserved tower and the intertower space suggests that there may have originally been habitable premises there. Their purpose is still being debated to this day. One of the hypotheses, suggests that there were cells for monks – Franciscans or monks of other religious orders, to whom the church is sometimes attributed because of its size. In the later period there was a municipal prison. During the restoration in the last century, the bricked-up romanesque windows and the rest of the portal were uncovered. In the nave, the original medieval pavement made of brick hexagons was also found under the pews for the faithful.

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