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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TOWN: VICE VERSA 2009, 27 June  In the Spanish city of Seville, the town of Levoča was added to UNESCO‘s World Heritage List (Spiš Castle, Church of the Holy Spirit in Žehra, Spišské Podhradie and Spišská Kapitula were approved in 1993). The jewels of the town are: the Church of St. James with the Gothic altar by Master Paul of Levoča, the historical Town Hall and the Lutheran church. The beautiful square with its sides in a 3:1 ratio unfolds to the north and south. The colouring of more than 60 burgher’s houses creates a unique atmosphere in the town centre. Worthy of special attention among them are the House of Master Paul of Levoča (no. 20) and the Thurzo House (no. 7), with a remarkable facade from 1904 → independent chapter. 1995  Pope John Paul II visited the Marian Mount. 1922  Until this year seat of the Spiš župa, or county (since the year 1802). 1871  The newly built Košice – Bohumín rail line passes through Spišská Nová Ves. Levoča stagnates as a result. 1853  Construction of the Town Theatre building. 1835  Establishment of the Town park. 1825–37  Building of the Lutheran church → indep. chapt. 17th cent.  Anti-Habsburg estates rebellions. 1672  Emperor Leopold I. established the Catholic gymnasium. 1550, 1559  Catastrophic fires. In 1550 the Town Hall is destroyed, but just two years later the Town Council again meets in it. 1544 A Lutheran gymnasium was established on the basis of a Catholic school. In 1696 this was renamed to the Lutheran Lyceum. In the spring of 1844 Ľudovít Štúr (1815–1856) was forced to come here along with his students from the Bratislava Lyceum. A life-sized statue of Štúr is located in the park in front of the Town Office.   He was the leader of the Slovak national revival and author of the standardised version of the Slovak language, which led to the current literary language.


1520? and later  Levoča, like other towns of the Spiš with a significant German population, quickly comes under the influence of the ideas of the Reformation. 1412  Levoča did not belong to the deposit of 13 of 24 Spiš towns which King Sigismund of Luxemburg, son of Czech King Charles IV. (1316–1378), handed over to Polish King Vladislav II. Formally these were henceforth a part of Hungary. After 360 years the cancellation of the deposit was pushed through by Maria Theresa (1717– 1780), Empress of Austria (1740–1780), in the scope of the 1st division of Poland in 1772. 1370 ? The parish church of St. James is consecrated. Blossoming of the town. 1323  Free royal town (regia ac libera civitas). Various privileges are associated with this title. Their range and number sharply grow in the course of decades. 1308  Arrival of the Minorites (the Franciscans) (Lat. minoritas = minority, as well as humbleness). They devote themselves to poverty. Their greetings is the well-known Pax et Bonum (Peace and Good). They soon build a church and a monastery here. However, they had to leave the town a number of times in the course of history, but they later returned. After 1748 they built a Baroque church and monastery.   They ceremonially opened the local upper gymnasium on 1 September 1776, which is attested to by the Latin text on the building of the school at Kláštorská 24.   They also work here in the present. 1271 Seat of the Society of Spiš Saxons. The monarch awards Levoča town privileges. 1249  First written mention under the name Leucha for the government of Béla IV. (1206 –1270), Hungarian king from the year 1235. Béla was the brother of St. Elisabeth of Hungary and Thuringia (1207–1231), who is the patroness of the cathedral in Košice. 1242 and later  After the Tartar incursions the arrival of the first German settlers on the invitation of the Hungarian kings.

HISTORY OF THE TOWN HALL: VICE VERSA after 1980  Reconstruction of the building and restored wall paintings on the southern facade in today’s form. 1956–59  Reconstruction of the building for the purposes of the museum. Restoration of wall paintings. 1955  The Town Hall served the town as an office. Since then it has been under administration of the Spiš Museum. 1893–95  Remodelling which is still preserved today – an additional storey, a new roof and a new entrance (with the inscription: Pulchritudo civitatis concordia = Lat. The majesty of the town is harmony. 1656–61  A bell-tower is built with a Renaissance attic gable (Greek: a narrower wooden addition above the main cornice). In 1768 it was made Baroque and probably connected with the Town Hall. It has remained unchanged since 1824. 1614 and later  Extensive building alterations. The building of the Renaissance arcade (an arched colonnade) on the ground floor and part of the 1st floor. The town is represented by a double-nave entry parlour. The virtues of the burghers were later painted on the southern facade in the form of allegories of female figures → next page. 1559  Another fire, however, without greater consequences. 1552  The Town Council again assembles in the renovated Town Hall. 1550  Catastrophic fire in the town. 15th cent. (mid) It is assumed that the Town Hall was built at this time.

SIC AGITUR CENSURA ET SIC EXEMPLA PARANTUR, CUM IUDEX, ALIOS QUOD MONET, IPSE FACIT That’s the way to censure vice and set an example, when the adviser himself does as he advises Inscription over the entrance to the room on the 1st floor, where the Town Council assembled Source: Ovid (43 AC – 17? AD), Fasti (6. 647–648)

After the year 1615 the virtues of the burghers of the town were painted on the southern facade in the form of an allegory of female characters – left to right.

Prudence is the virtue which dutifully oversees that which is right in this or another deed.

          Courage is trust and magnanimity             or patience and reliability.

  Patience is the strength to bear      suffering and pain.

             Justice is the grace to give              to each what belongs to him.


  Temperance is the virtue                   which tames concupiscence.

THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST. JAMES   Here is the main altar – the masterpiece of Master Paul of Levoča, which originated in 1507–17. The artist, together with his assistants, created a masterpiece – the tallest Gothic altar in the world at 18.62 m; it is also 6 m wide. The altar, made from linden wood, is a symbiosis of the unity of the presbytery (a sacred space) and architecture.   The dominant figures are three larger-than-life statues: Madonna with child (2.47 m), to her right St. James the Greater (2.32 m) and St. John the Evangelist (2.30 m).   Above them are four ecclesiastical teachers from the first millennium: St. Ambrose (339–397), Archbishop of Milan; Hieronym, or St. Jerome (347?–420?), who translated the Bible into Latin (known under the name the Vulgate); Augustine (354–430), the most important among them; and Gregory I. the Great (Pope from 590–604). The statues date from the second half of the 14th century and were probably part of an older altar.

In the predela (the lower part of the altar) is an image of the Last Supper → Mark (14, 22-25), Matt. (26, 26-29), Luke (22, 15-20).   The then favourite passion plays (Lat. Passio = Martyrdom) and their performers were probably the models for Master Paul‘s rendering of Christ and the Apostles. Scenes from the lives of the saints are painted on the movable altar wings.   On the right is St. John the Apostle during his suffering. According to legend he did not want to kneel before the pagan gods in Ephesus, a Greek city in Asia Minor. On the command of Emperor Domitian (51–91 AD) he was transported to Rome. Here, near the town gate Porta Latina, he was thrown into a vat of boiling oil. Nothing happened to the Apostle, however, and he was then exiled to the Greek island of Patmos, where he had the visions that are the source of the Apocalypse.   On the left, the Apostles depart to spread the Gospel to the world. The patron of the church, the Apostle St. James the Greater, is depicted here as he was killed under the government of Herod Agrippa in the year 43 during the persecution of Christians → Acts 12 (1–2).   On the back side of the wings are motifs from the Passion. The majesty of the altar is completed by the pinnacles (Greek: decorated and construction towers) and peaks – which were a particular favourite of Gothic architecture. We often see them on the exterior of churches.   The main altar represents a classic example of what is called the “Biblia pauperum” (Lat. Bible of the poor). In this form the most important motifs of the New Testament were made accessible to people in the Middle Ages who were unable to read and write.   Over the course of 500 years the main altar has been restored a number of times. The last time was more than a half-century ago, in 1952-54, when it was also dismantled.   We also find 11 side altars in the church. The rarest among them are on the right-hand side, the Altar of St. Katherine and the Altar of the Man of Sorrows (Vir Dolorum), which was built on the occasion of a visit by King Matthias Corvinus (1443–1490) in 1474.   The wall paintings are deserving of special attention. In the Middle Ages it was common practice that nobles and wealthy burghers had votive altars, statues or paintings prepared (Lat. votum = promise). Visitors usually find them with the abbreviations EX V (Ex voto = From the vow made), EX V. P (Ex voto posuit = From the vow built).   The parish church, consecrated to St. James, belonged definitively to the Catholic Church after the year 1674(?).   JAMES the Greater was one of the Twelve. He was among the first of the Apostles called to service (after Andrew and Peter). Together with his younger brother, John the Evangelist, he enjoyed the special favour of his Master (The Transfiguration → Matt. 17 (1n), the prayer on the mount of Olives → Mark 14 (32–42)). He is most often depicted as a man with a beard and an Apostle‘s staff or shell. His grave (relics) is located in northwest Spain, in Santiago de Compostela, which since the year 830 has become after Roma and Jerusalem the third most important pilgrimage city of Christianity.   Feast day: 25 July.


200 km

400 km From the 15th to 19th cent., the PENTAPOLITANA was an economic association of the five main towns in Eastern Slovakia. Road distance to the towns of the PENTAPOLITANA in km:   LEVOČA: – Košice: 90; – Prešov: 54; – Sabinov: 50; – Bardejov: 95. Information office: Námestie Majstra Pavla 58. ☎ +421 53 451 37 63        • Population: 14,300.   Additional landmarks:   –  The large župný dom, or “county house” (Classicist building), Nám.    Majstra Pavla 59, (opposite the Town Office)   –  Baroque church and Minorite monastery (beyond the Košice gate)   –  The old church of the Minorites (the gymnasium church, Kláštorská ul.)   –  The Spiš Museum, Nám. Majstra Pavla 40   –  The town fortification system (town ramparts)   –  The famous “cage of shame” is located near the southern side of the   Town Hall   The symbol of the town is Mariánska hora (or Marian Mount, 781 m n. m.), where at the start of July each year the largest Catholic pilgrimage in Slovakia takes place.


© Jozef Soročin & Anna Soročinová, 2012, © Design & Layout: Jozef Soročin, Jr., © Photographs: Peter Olekšák, © Translation: David McLean, © Published by: Jozef Soročin, Martina Rázusa 1848/6,   SK–071 01 Michalovce, © Print: Rotaprint, s. r. o., Barčianska 68, SK–040 17 Košice Published with financial support:

THE LUTHERAN CHURCH     It was built from 1825–37 in the Classicist style. It is located in the southern part of the square, opposite the historical Town Hall.

  The floor plan is in the shape of a Greek cross (all sides are of equal length). Three galleries in the interior draw one‘s attention (the elevated galleries – the tribune). Also found here are a majestic organ, a valuable archive and a rare library, which at present (2012) is being catalogued. THE LUTHERAN CEMETERY

  The Lutheran cemetery beyond the eastern ramparts of the town also deserves the attention of a visitor to Levoča. After issuance of the Sopron Articles (from 1681) this land was allocated to the local Lutherans, so that they could build a temple. Unfortunately, the first articulated church burned. The second, built in 1713, was after consecration dismantled on the square (!) It was brought here and part of it is still preserved today.   A number of Lutherans are buried in the cemetery; several of them were known beyond the borders of Hungary.

THE THURZO HOUSE   This powerful family comes from the village of Betlanovce (23 km southwest of Levoča). Its ancestors came from around Vienna. It was among the “nobilitatis lanceati” (noble pikemen). They had different privileges, and as tribute they had to raise a certain number of warriors for the royal military.   The Thurzo family moved to Levoča around the year 1430. At the beginning of the new age this branched family traded in copper and had shares in mining concerns. The family supported education and humanist artists. They were closely connected with Krakow.   At present the State ArchiNám. Majstra Pavla 7 ve is based here.   ☎ +421 53 / 451 24-24 MASTER PAUL’S HOUSE   Levoča experienced an artistic peak in the first half of the 16th century, during the age of Master Paul (1460?–1540?). The majority of documents about this period were destroyed during the catastrophic fire in 1550. At the turn of the 16th century, Master Paul moved from Krakow (?) to Levoča, where he opened a workshop. In the years 1507–17 he created his masterNám. Majstra Pavla 20 piece – the main altar in the local parish Church of St. James.   We can still admire his exquisite work today, primarily in the Spiš region (for example, the Altar of St. George in Spišská Sobota, altars in Hrabušice and Chyžné). The master’s house is a must-see for visitors. In the interior are replicas of his work and an imitation workshop.   Out of respect for its most famous citizen the town named its main square after him.   He was a contemporary of Vít Štós from Nuremberg, (German: Veit Stoß, 1447?–1533), who created the main altar in the Marian church in Krakow and is probably the author of the main altar at St. Martin‘s Cathedral in Spišská Kapitula.

LEVOČA AND JAN AMOS KOMENSKÝ   Praeceptor mundi – The teacher of nations (1592–1670) is known in the world by the Latin form of his name: Comenius.   His most well-known work is Orbis Sensualium Pictus (The visible world in pictures), popularly called “The World in Pictures”; at the same time it is the first-ever children’s encyclopaedia. The name Orbis Pictus is still used today. The first edition appeared in Nuremberg in 1658 (Latin–German).   The first expanded four-language edition, where Biblical Czech and Hungarian are also presented, was printed in 1685 by the famous Breuer’s printing works in Levoča! The printer resided in the town where today stands the Hotel Arkáda (Námestie Majstra Pavla 26). The work has been published around the world in more than 200 editions and has approximately 3,000 entries. Komenský is also regarded as being the founder of didactics – “school by play” – schola ludus, and the “workshop of humanity”– – officina humanitatis.   Friedrich Verlagsmedien, Frankfurt a. M.,, based on the best editions, in the year 2011 brought to the market for pupils and students a 3rd Latin–German edition (July 2012).   In 2013, a limited, historically first Latin–Slovak edition is planned to come out.   In Slovakia there is a university named after him – Komenský University in Bratislava (1919) – and several secondary schools also bear his name. The day of his birth, 28 March, is commemorated as Teacher’s Day in Slovakia and Czech Republic. The start of a dialogue between a teacher (Magister)  and a boy (Puer), called: INVITATIO – INVITATION.

M. Veni, puer, disce sapere.  Come, boy, learn to be wise. P. Quid hoc est, sapere?  What does it mean to be wise? M. Omnia, quae necessaria, recte intellegere, recte agere, recte eloqui.  To un-derstand rightly, to do rightly and to speak rightly all that are necessary. P. Quis docebit me hoc?  Who will teach me this? M. Ego, cum Deo.  I, by God’s help. P. Quomodo?  How? M. Te per omnia ducam, tibi omnia ostendam, tibi omnia nominabo.  I will guide you through all. I will show you all. I will name you all. P. En! Adsum! Duc me, in nomine Dei.  Okay, I’m ready! Lead me in the name of God.

  The book Cithara Sanctorum was also published by Breuer for the first time, in the year 1636. Its author was Juraj Tranovský (Lat. Georgius Tranoscius, 1592–1637), known as the “Luther of the Slavs”. The book contains about 400 songs, and Tranovský himself wrote about 150 of them. It was also written in Biblical Czech. Today it remains the foundation of the Slovak and Czech Lutheran hymn books.

OBSERVA SEMITAM PEDUM TUORUM, ET OMNES VIÆ TUÆ STABILIENTUR. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. The Bible, Book of Proverbs (4, 26)

Spišský Štvrtok Poprad Spišský hrad Prešov

H I K I N G A N D W A L K I N G 1.T Levočská dolina, Kováčová vila (pension) SAD (bus stop), (green) –Uhlisko – Zbojnícka lúka (red) – Brezová – – Vlkovce (village) – Dravce (village) SAD (bus stop) time: 4:30 hrs | difficulty: medium Points of interest: the Church of the Antonites from the 13th cent. with unique paintings and a stone Gothic bridge. 2.T Levoča, Košická brána (blue) – Mariánska hora – Druhá lúka – Kúty – Zimná hôrka (red) – Uloža (village) time: 2:00 hrs | difficulty: medium Points of interest: Mariánska hora – the most important pilgrimage site in Slovakia, an enchanting view over the town and the broader surroundings. In the village of Úloža is a Baroque church from the 1st half of the 18th century. C Y C L I N G Levoča, Košická ul. – Kežmarská cesta – Kováčova vila – – chatová zákl. (cottage hamlet) – Levočská Dolina (ski centre) – Levoča, Závada (Municipal office) 13 km | difficulty: medium ROAD DISTANCES FROM LEVOČA IN KM: Spišská Nová Ves: 12 | Poprad: 28 | Dravce: 10 (→ 1.T Path) Spišský Štvrtok: 12 (the very rare Gothic Zápoľský Chapel) Hrabušice: 17 (Entry point to Slovak Paradise National Park) Starý Smokovec: 39 | Liptovský Mikuláš: 83

UNESCO l a n d m a r k s: Spišská Kapitula: 14 | Spiš Castle (parking lot): 18 Žehra: 20 (Gothic church with beautiful frescoes) Kežmarok: 29 (Articulated church from 1717) We also recommend use of the SHOCart hiking map: PIENINY, SEVERNÝ SPIŠ, ŠARIŠ, no. 234, M: 1:100 000.


UNESCO IN SPIŠ • part two