IN ADDITION to Slovakia’s historical and natural monuments already inscribed on the UNESCO Heritage List, churches in the Gemer and Abov regions are also preparing for inclusion on the list. One such church is the Annunciation of Our Lady in the municipality of Chyžné (in the district of Revúca) in central Slovakia.

The church in Chyžné dates back to the second half of the 11th century and is decorated with rare late 14th-century frescoes. The interior also contains a late Gothic altar from the workshop of renowned sculptor Master Pavol of Levoča. Near the church lies a wooden 18th-century belfry.

“All these things are, of course, a magnet for tourists who tend to come mainly during the high season,” Chyžné Mayor Ján Greguš told the TASR newswire. “At the beginning and the end of the school term there is increased interest among students. But the monument is not the property of the municipality [it belongs to the church - ed. note]. Those interested in visiting the church have to call a number that is written on a sign next to the entrance. An elderly lady tends to open the church, but due to her age, she does not guide visitors; instead, she distributes leaflets with basic information in three languages. She usually arrives within 15 minutes.”

Greguš added that the village has a relatively new parson who is currently looking for ways to make visiting the church easier.

The Gemer and Malohont regions’ economic prosperity in the 13th to 15th centuries resulted in medieval wall paintings in 18 local churches. Members of wealthy Gemer families, the Bebeks and the Csetnekys, hired Italian masters to decorate their family churches in Štítnik and Plešivec in Rožňava. The activities of period workshops and individual artists are documented on the walls of smaller countryside churches in Ochtiná, Koceľovce, Rákoš, Chyžné, Roštár, Kameňany, Šivetice, Lipovník and Krásnohorské Podhradie.

Currently, the church in Chyžné is in relatively good condition. Two years ago the roof was reconstructed with shingles resembling the originals.

“The ceiling of the church was also partially heat-insulated,” Greguš told TASR. “In the 1970s, cracks started to appear on the church due to mining. Experts scrutinised them but it is probably alright, as no further intervention has been made.”

He concluded, being inscribed on the UNESCO Heritage List “would surely mean a prestigious thing and it would make people notice our municipality more – but what I would welcome is better cooperation when using this cultural gem”.