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HISTORY TALKS...

Having to sell precious treasure

IT WAS between 1502 and 1510 that the inhabitants of the Ruthenian village of Habura built this little wooden church without the use of nails or any other metal parts, just like in many other communities around eastern Slovakia. The wooden church served the Orthodox believers of the village until 1740 when a new stone one was built nearby.

IT WAS between 1502 and 1510 that the inhabitants of the Ruthenian village of Habura built this little wooden church without the use of nails or any other metal parts, just like in many other communities around eastern Slovakia. The wooden church served the Orthodox believers of the village until 1740 when a new stone one was built nearby.

The wooden church was then sold to the Greek Catholic Church in the municipality of Malá Poľana where it was consecrated to St. Nikolaus. However, a stone church was later built there as well and its older wooden brother was more or less forgotten.

In 1929, during the First Czechoslovak Republic, Josef Pilňáček, the mayor of the Czech town of Hradec Králové, bought the church with his own money and it has stood in that town’s park ever since. Several precious churches were moved from eastern Slovakia to the Czech Republic.

This might indicate that Slovaks have always been somewhat oblivious to their cultural heritage. But on the other hand, in those times, the industrialised Czech regions were much more developed than the predominantly agriculturally-oriented Slovakia. Thus, it is perhaps not so surprising that the poor villages so readily accepted the offers.

In a positive sign, a group of enthusiasts in Habura has now decided to construct an exact replica of the original wooden church that will stand on the very same spot as its predecessor. To help them, Hradec Králové is to provide them with all the church's technical specifications.

This picture of the little wooden church was taken by photographer Karol Plicka in the 1920s when it still towered over Malá Poľana.

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