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St Martin's crown glitters again after restoration

THE GOLD-plated crown which normally tops the spire of St Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava went on show to the public for two weeks from late September following its restoration. Visitors were able to see it in the cathedral’s interior between September 27 and October 10, Jozef Haľko, spokesman of the Bratislava archdiocese, told the TASR newswire.

The restored crown went on display before being returned to its spire towering over Bratislava. The restored crown went on display before being returned to its spire towering over Bratislava. (Source: TASR)

THE GOLD-plated crown which normally tops the spire of St Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava went on show to the public for two weeks from late September following its restoration. Visitors were able to see it in the cathedral’s interior between September 27 and October 10, Jozef Haľko, spokesman of the Bratislava archdiocese, told the TASR newswire.

The crown was removed last August during work on the tower. It took workers two hours to release it from its exposed position and bring it down. Apart from the crown, visitors were also able to view items placed inside the crown during previous restorations, namely a newspaper from 1905 (the last time it was restored), documents such as a theatre poster from 1846 and one dating back to 1765 during the reign of Maria Theresa.

Before the crown is returned to its spire all the documents will be placed back inside. The crown itself is a gold-plated replica of the crown of the Hungarian Kingdom, also known as the Crown of St Stephen. The original on which it is based can be found in the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. The cathedral replica, which is made of copper, weighs about 150 kilograms and is 164 centimetres high. The edge of the cushion it rests on is 120 centimetres in length, the SITA newswire wrote.

The 1905 renovation was carried out by the Móric Weinstabl company of goldsmiths. The document dating back to 1765 is slightly charred, thought to be the result of a fire in 1833 which destroyed the spire and sent the crown crashing into Kapitulská Street. The document lists the names of Queen Maria Theresa, her son Joseph II, town councillors as well as members of the cathedral chapter.



According to the restorer, Ľubomír Szabo, after being cleaned in 1905 it was chemically gilded, but since then acid had damaged the surface. “The material was badly damaged, [so] after treating [the metal] with enamel, we spread 1,757 sheets of gold measuring eight by eight centimetres over it. The current appearance should last for at least 50 years,” Szabo said.

Structural expert Vladimír Kohút said it had been necessary to restore the tower in order to prevent it from falling down. Apart from the effects of weather and bird excrement, another factor that might have worsened the state of the tower and crown were three bullet holes (possibly dating from the Soviet invasion in 1968) that were checked by criminal investigators. The crown has topped the spire of St Martin’s Cathedral since it became the coronation site of Hungarian kings and queens in 1563.


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