Vysoké Tatry Stories and Tips

Visiting Kězmarok

Wooden Protestant Articular Church open 9-12 and 2-5 daily May-September
New Evangelical Church open open 9-12am and 2-5pm daily, May-September

After our morning on the mountains, we were looking for some culture or history. We drove east of Tatranská Lomnica through some little villages and then north to the Polish border for a quick lunch. We didn’t find anything very interesting in that area so we drove back south and ended up in Kězmarok, a town not too far east of where we started that day. My guidebook suggested stopping here to see some of the churches the town has to offer. We visited two: the New Protestant (or Evangelical) Church and the Wooden Protestant Articular Church next door. To our surprise, there was another church being built across the street from here.

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These two buildings offered us a stark contrast: one church was stark white and boring outside but one of the most colourful churches I have ever seen on the inside. The other church had amazing colour and shape outside, but the inside was bland on the inside.

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As we drove into town it was pretty clear where we were headed as we could see the tower on the reddish mosque-looking building from a distance. We found a free place to park and walked over to the churches. It is a reddish-coral colour with greenish and yellow accents. I expected the inside to be lavishly decorated. The inside was rather dull in contrast to the deep colour outside. The building isn’t as large on the inside as it looks from the outside, either.

We visited the New Evangelical Church first. In order to view both of the churches, you must be shown around by a guide. It really isn’t as formal as it sounds; it was a little old lady guiding us and we were the only ones in the church. The ticket you purchase here is also used to see the Wooden Protestant Articular Church next door at no additional cost. We had to take a German tour of the church. Fortunately, she had an English sheet we could sit down and read before delving into more detail in German. Tom understood much more than I. He translated some of the bits I missed... what he could understand anyway.

This pseudo-Moorish church was built in 1894 and was to be build somewhere in the Far East. Citizens of Kězmarok were in need of a new plan for their church and the architect Teophil Hansen from Vienna donated this plan free of charge as long as plans were carried out to his specifications. It houses the mausoleum of Imre Thököly who fought with Ferenc Rákóczi against the Hapsburg takeover of Hungary.

Three notable things to see in this church: columns, windows and the mausoleum.

Black marble columns stand at the back of the church capped with a contrasting series of arches. Look for the small stained-glass windows that were brought here from a synagogue. The windows were made for the synagogue and then didn’t fit when they went to put them in. Lastly, the most important part of the church seems to be the mausoleum of Imre Thököly. It acts as a sort of shrine with wreaths, ribbons, flowers and a flag.

From here, we visited the plain white church next door, the Wooden Protestant Articular Church. Such Protestant "articular" churches were erected during the period of the counter-reformation in the 18th century. However, a limit of two per royal city was imposed. They had to be built outside the city walls and were not allowed to have bells or a steeple. This church in Kězmarok was built with financial help from Sweden and Denmark. It is said that Swedish sailors helped construct it, which explains the upturned boat shape of the roof and the round windows in the lower part of the building.

The church was made totally of wood (well, 99% as the Vestry is made of stone, part of a former Inn) and had no foundations; even the nails are made of wood. I was truly in awe when I walked through the door. Yew and lime are two of the types of wood used to build the church. Brightly coloured paintings surround you as you wander around exploring. Even the ceiling is painted to be a mock sky with clouds and Biblical figures. Be sure to schedule some extra time here because you will want to just sit and admire the beauty.

This church also had an English guide for you to read as you wandered around the church…and remember your ticket from next door gets you into this church for no extra fee.

Kězmarok has several other churches to visit such as the Gothic Basilica of the Holy Cross, St. Michael’s and St. Elizabeth’s. Stop at the Gothic-Renaissance Town Hall, the Castle, and the Old Town for a perfect day of sightseeing.

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