Historic fortified city registered in UNESCO
Levoča is a historic town in eastern Slovakia, the former metropolis of ancient Spiš. The historic center, together with the amazing work of Master Pavel of Levoča, is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The former free royal town of Levoča has preserved the character of the original medieval town in the center with extensive preserved medieval walls.
The large rectangular square, which is the largest rectangular medieval square in the world, is surrounded by a number of valuable Renaissance houses and is dominated by the Basilica of St. Of St. James from the 14th century and the Renaissance town hall, in front of which stands a prankster. The most important and unique monument is the Gothic Church of St. James, containing 11 Gothic and Renaissance winged altars, including the tallest wooden late Gothic altar in the world (18.6 m), which is carved from linden wood and its author is the carver Pavel, called Master Paul of Levoča. There are also two other rare churches in the city with Baroque interiors, the Classicist buildings of the county house and the Evangelical Church.
Preserved medieval walls
The historic center is surrounded by a massive fortification system with double walls, defensive towers and a moat built at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. To this day, most of the walls (from the original length of 2.5 km) around the current historic city center have been preserved. This fortification system is one of the best preserved defense systems in Slovakia. Three bastions and three gates have been preserved – Košická, Menhardská and Polská.
Church of St. James
The Gothic Church of St. James the Elder with a tall slender tower, standing in the middle of the main square, is the second largest sacral building in Slovakia (after the Košice Cathedral of St. Elizabeth) and is one of the most valuable historical monuments in Slovakia. The church was built at the end of the 14th century, during the 15th century the north and south entrances with beautiful portals were added. Inside this three-nave building with a large shrine, there are valuable interior furnishings, in particular a unique collection of 11 Gothic, Renaissance and several Baroque altars and rare furniture with several unique works of art. The artistic and historical value of its interior equipment is one of the rarest that sacral interiors have to offer in Slovakia. The oldest and rarest decoration of the church from the 14th and 15th centuries includes murals on the wall of the north nave and in the sacristy of the church, which at a time when most people were illiterate, introduced people to biblical stories. After a fire in 1550, Renaissance equipment was added to the church – wooden benches of Levoča burghers, an organ, a pulpit, tombstones and epitaphs. On September 28, 2015, the church was promoted by the Pope to a minor basilica. Services are held daily in the church. It is possible to pay for entry with a guide, which is definitely worth it.
The main altar of the Church of St. James
Certainly the most valuable part of the interior of the Church is the main altar of St. Of St. James with the scene of the Last Supper and statues of the Madonna, St. John and St. Jakuba. This monumental work with an extraordinary artistic design was created by Master Pavel from Levoča and his workshop. It is an amazing late Gothic monument and with a height of 18.62 m and a width of 6.7 meters, it is the highest winged Gothic altar in the world. The altar was built in several stages between 1508 and 1517.
In 1615, the Renaissance southern part and the arcades on the ground floor and first floor were added to the originally Gothic town hall building from the 15th century. The paintings on the facade between the windows represent human virtues – sobriety, caution, bravery, patience and justice. Today, the building serves as an exposition of the Spiš Museum. In the years 1656 – 1661, a clock tower with a bell tower in the style of the Italian Renaissance was added to the town hall. The clock was one of the oldest in Hungary. The bell tower was baroqued in the 18th century, the new roof is connected to the town hall. On the corner in front of the town hall stands a medieval metal pillar from the 16th century.
House of Master Paul
In a historic house, originally from the 14th century, on the square east of the church of St. The House of Master Paul, the largest medieval carver in Slovakia, stands, among other things, famous for creating the highest Gothic winged altar in the world, located in the opposite church of St. Jakuba. According to archival sources from 1510, Master Pavel of Levoča was the first known owner of this house. Master Pavel of Levoča (c. 1465 / 1470–1480 – 1537–1542) was a Spiš carver and sculptor in the late Gothic period. Not only the quality but also the preserved scope of work is admirable in his work. His workshop worked very intensively, because a large number of works have been preserved to this day in eastern and central Slovakia, which were created in quick succession. The house is now the property of the Spiš Museum, which installed an exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Master Pavel.
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