RESEARCHERS studying the Rotunda of St George in Nitrianska Blatnica in Topoľčany district have announced that they believe it is the oldest rotunda in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic. It was originally thought the rotunda was built in the first half of the 11th century but now the researchers believe it is several centuries older and dates back to the times of Great Moravia.
“The finding of the original window, the consecration cross and fragments of preserved plaster support the idea that the whole rotunda came into existence in the 9th century. The Great Moravian walls are preserved up to the height of 565 centimetres – which is splendid,” stated Jozef Dorica, the lead restorer, to the SITA newswire. The experts want to restore the oldest walls of the rotunda and make them available for public viewing.
Since the original research conducted in 1973-1974 the assumption has been that the rotunda was built on a foundation built during the period of Great Moravia but that the above-ground part dated to somewhere between 1000 and 1050. But the most recent findings seem to show that the entire rotunda comes from the period of Great Moravia, a Slavic state that existed for around seventy years in the 9th century.
“We think the rotunda was built probably in the second half, or rather the last quarter, of the ninth century,” Dorica stated. He added that the most stunning fact is that the walls have been preserved without any previous interventions by humans. “We found no secondary intervention in the original material from the oldest times. The damage we detected was caused by time, not by human actions,” he added, noting that it was only during the Baroque reconstruction that the original appearance of the rotunda changed.
The Rotunda of St George was originally part of a Great Moravian courtyard and a larger settlement that perished during the 13th century. Archaeologists have found about 150 graves at the rotunda. In the 16th century, the rotunda was repaired and a tradition of St George pilgrimages began – a tradition that continues to this day.