Mapa     Główny ołtarz św. Jakuba Apostoła     Photogallery

Slovenská verzia    Česká verze    Polska wersja    English version    Deutsche Version    Magyar változat    Version française

St. James’s Church in the town of Levoča   Accommodation and services

   Introduction | Building development and history of the Church Building | Architecture | Mural paintings   
Altars | Independent plastic sculptures | Tabernacles | Pulpit | Organ | Baptismal font
Pews | Windows | Epitaphs and mortuaries | Handicraft monuments | Concluding remarks
Photo-gallery | Plan of the town Levoča | Map | Tips for trips

Main Altar of St. James Sr. the Apostle | Altar of St. John | Altar of St. Anna
Altar of St. Peter and Paul | Altar of St. Nicolas | Altar of St. Catherine
Altar of St. Michael the Archangel | Altar of 14 helpers in necessity
Altar of a Good Shepherd | Altar of Virgin Maria Snežná | Altar of Lord's Nativity
   Altar Vir dolorum - of Matej Corvine | Altar of two Maries | Altar of Christmas predella   
Altar of St. Elisabeth Durínska | Altar of Virgin Maria Loretánska
Altar of St. John Nepomucký | Little altar of St. Catherine from Vyšné Repáše

Also, check: Levoča and its surroundings, the town of Levoča, Betliar, Red Monastery, St. James’s Church, Kláštorisko, Krásna Hôrka, Spiš Castle, Strážky

St. James’s Church in the town of Levoča     St. James’s Church in the town of Levoča belongs to the biggest gothic churches in Slovakia. It is a functioning cathedral and as a parish church of the former free royal town of Levoča , it has served its believers for daily worshipping for more than 700 years.
    It has a rich history and is a treasury of many art monuments. The evidence of it is the fact that it combines three National Cultural Monuments. Apart from the church architecture, the works of the medieval well-known woodcarver Master Pavol from Levoča (Majster Pavol z Levoče) as well as the works of the baroque jeweler Ján Szillassy are protected as another National Cultural Monuments.
    The church is consecrated to St. James sr. the Apostle, protector of the fighters, the pilgrims and the workers, venerated by the whole medieval Europe. July 25th is a special day dedicated to him. In the past, big anniversary fairs took place in Levoča that day.
    Roman Catholic Parish Church of St. James belongs to the most important monuments of sacral art in Slovakia. Since 1965, the church and its interior improvements, has been protected as a National Cultural Monument. The main altar is the most admired one. At the same time, it is the highest gothic altar in the world. Its author is a well-known late gothic woodcarver, Master Pavol from Levoča. The altar is 18 meters and 62 centimeters high.
    The work of Ján Szillassy also belongs to a National Cultural Monuments. His monstrances, chalices and other sacral objects decorated by enamel and wrought decor, inset with gemstones and Bohemian garnets are from the second half of the 18th century. In 1992, this work was proclaimed a National Cultural Monument.

SURROUNDINGS: Kežmarok (31 km), Vysoké Tatry - High Tatras (Starý Smokovec - 38 km), Poprad (26 km), Spišský hrad (Spiš castle) (19 km), Spišské Podhradie (15 km), Spišská Kapitula (15 km), Žehra (19 km), Spišská Nová Ves (10 km), Smižany (14 km), Spišský Štvrtok (12 km).



    Chrám sv. Jakuba v Levoči - Hlavný oltár sv.Jakuba st. Apoštola
    Chrám sv. Jakuba v Levoči - Organ a Senátorská lavica
    Chrám sv. Jakuba v Levoči - Oltár Vir dolorum - Mateja Korvína
    Chrám sv. Jakuba v Levoči - Oltár sv.Alžbety Durínskej
    Chrám sv. Jakuba v Levoči - Oltár Panny Márie Snežnej

Back to top

    Slovakia is generally known as a country rich in natural beauties and variety of historical treasures, especially in terms of architecture and historical paintings. The Spiš region was known already in the ancient times and has therefore a special place in the history of Slovakia. The geographical area of the Spiš region is rich on mountains such as: the High Tatras (the highest Slovak Mountains), the Slovak Paradise, the Levočské Mountains and Spis-Gemer Ore Mountains. The special phenomenon is the number of nationalities of local inhabitants (sc. a “melting-pot”), who were substantially differentiated nationally in the past. The original Slovak population greatly expanded between the 12th and the 14th century, which was caused by the relatively large influx of the German colonists. The privileges, which were given by the Hungarian rulers, allowed them to build an unusually dense network of towns and villages. These became the centers of economic and cultural life. The Ukraine-Rusine population, with its own distinctive culture, settled mostly in the mountainous parts. In the northern parts, in the area of Zamagurie, live predominantly “goral people”, speaking the dialects closely related to the Polish language. The upper classes were partially Hungarian in the past. Relatively numerous Jewish population (with the center in Huncovce) played a significant role in the cultural development, too. It is obvious, that over the centuries, there were significant changes in the national composition. The assimilation progressed, while in the 19th century the significant role played the process of magyarization (forced pressure to assimilate into the Hungarian culture and language). The 20th century will be ingloriously remembered because of almost complete disappearance of the Jewish population and later, after the World War 2, by forced emigration of the German population. It can be said, that the Spisiaks from many different national groups participated in the creation of cultural treasures in this region. We can conclude that in this region it is not appropriate to speak about the Slovak, German or Hungarian culture, as it is sometimes mentioned. These are the cultural values, proving the width and the depth of human genius in the Middle Ages.
    The town of Levoča (also known as Leutschau in German), is the historical metropolis of the Spiš region, and the former administrative, economic and cultural center. It is situated roughly in the geographical center of the region, at the crossroads of important medieval European trading routes. During the Middle Ages, Levoča's numerous royal privileges resulted in the town becoming the progressive European medieval town with outstanding urban planning, architecture and cultural life. Levoča belonged to the group of important medieval towns significant for their economic development, and was the center of mercantile manufacturing, as well as the center of international and national trade. There are many creations, which remained preserved up to present day, confirming the important position of the town. Burgher architecture is the example. Its architectural values are being rediscovered only at the present time, as a result of numerous building renovations. Sacral architecture surprises us by its large size and its high quality. This is the reason why Levoča was sometimes called “Slovak Nuremberg”. One of the most important treasures is St. James´s Church - a town parish church, containing the most unique collection of medieval gothic wing altars, some of which are included in at least two Slovak National Cultural Monument lists. It is a little known fact that the collection of twelve original gothic altars preserved in its original locations, exists in the whole Europe only in the Slovak towns of Levoča and Bardejov. Even the largest world galleries do not own such a large number of original gothic altars. The main altar is not only a complete artistic creation, but it is also the highest gothic altar in the world.


Building development and history of the Church Building
Back to top

    Written documents, describing the history of Levoča, are preserved only from the middle of the 16th century. From this period onwards, it is possible to follow relatively precisely the construction, as well as the history of the church. Up to that period, we can rely only on the individual data, the traditional information, and the results of the archeological research, which was primarily completed in the sacristy and partially at the immediate area around the church. The scientific literature places the beginnings of the present Church of St. James roughly between 1290 and 1400. This conclusion is primarily the result of the analysis of the architectural elements. It is known that the first written reference about Levoca is from the year 1249 and that in 1271 it became the capital city - civitas capitalis - of the Union of Spis Saxons. From the historical tradition and also from the archeological research it is known that in the prior period, Levoca had two churches: Church of Holy Ghost - the Roman rotunda from the 11th century originally built at the location of the present day Minoritian Church near the Kosice Gate, and the St. Nicolas Church -located south of the present day town, near the locality called the Old Levoca. St. Nicolas Church is from the period between the end of the 11th century and the beginning of the 12th century, and was architecturally enlarged in the middle of the 13th century, and again in the 14th century, and possibly again in the 15th century.
    Based on the updated historical and archeological research it is possible to locate the original town of Levoca to the present location and place the urban design to a period after the Tartar Invasion, which occurred around the year 1245. If the town was founded in that period, this parish church must also have been founded at that time, since the other old Holy Ghost Church in the surrounding area was not located in the area of the present town. It has been determined that the present day church sanctuary was built on the foundations from the middle of the 13th century, and was rebuilt again around 1270. Because some of the column capitals with the Roman motifs are repeated in the sanctuary of the present Church of St. James, it cannot be excluded that at that time the sanctuary was a part of the original church built on the place of the present church, or that it was its separate chapel. It is certain that the growth of the town, especially after the town was awarded extensive trading rights in 1321, called for building of a larger and a more important church. Based on these assumptions, it is possible to conclude, that the present day church was built in the period of approximately from 1300-1350 to 1370. From this period onwards, there are preserved wall paintings, which represent terminus ad quem. Whether the construction was done all at once or in stages, is not that important. What is important is that the church was there in the last third of the 13th century, and further structural changes were simply minor additions and the building of the choirs.
    The oldest addition is the St.George Chapel located at the north side of the church. The chapel origin is from around 1390, when it was built as the burial chapel of a wealthy burgher from Kosice, George Ulenbach, who was buried here in 1390. It was consecrated as St. George Chapel in 1414.Town of Levoca experienced the biggest growth in the second half of the 15th century. King Matej Corvine visited the town in 1474, and it is believed that for this occasion the south anteroom with the chapel located above it (known as Corvine´s oratory) was created. At about the same time the northern anteroom was built, most probably financed by the Thurzo’s family, and the western organ choir was also added. The interior of the church was furnished with altars and contained the organ. At the front of the main nave of the church were placed mausoleums of the Thurzo’s family.
    A big event for Levoca as well as for the church took place in 1494, when four Jagelovci brothers met here. One of them was the Hungarian King and another one was a Polish King. They had spent an extended time in Levoca along with their entourage. Commemorating their meeting is a pew placed in the back of the central church nave and also the Altar of Holy Maria “Snezna”. Shortly following this period an extensive furnishing of the church interior occurred. This was the result not only of outstanding economic conditions, but also the result of the arrival of highly educated priests, led by Dr. Ján Henckel, the known humanist. The new side altars appeared, and the town ordered a new main altar. The church got a new organ and there were new wall paintings created. In 1519, the building section was added to the library, consisting of the addition above the main church portal and the first clock, placed on the church steeple. Master Pavol from Levoca, the outstanding wood-carver, who is the author of numerous art creations in the town and the surrounding area, arrives in that period. We can say that the most important art creations in the church were created in the first quarter of the 16th century. It was a lucky coincidence that these were saved during the town fires in 1538 and 1550, and in the later years. The Reformation, which won in the town in 1544, did not leave a mark in the church. The wings of the altars remained closed during this period, so there was no reason to remove the religious statues. The Year 1622 marks the beginning of the construction of a new organ choir structure behind the northern entrance and briefly after that, the church received a new organ, which was hung on the outside of the choir structure. Opposite to the organ you can find a wooden pulpit. Of course the church was at all times repaired and maintained (roof covering, church bells, roof structure), however the damage to the steeple was so extensive that in the middle of the 17th century, the new separate bell tower was built to house the church bells and the church steeple was later dismantled. In 1667 was the original old organ choir interconnected with a new choir by a so-called cobblers choir.
    The last quarter of the 17th century was very important for the town and the church. In 1674, as a part of re-catholization process, the church was removed from the Protestant jurisdiction and the Catholics started the re-furbishment of the church interior all over again. The labor union uprisings resulted in multiple change of the church ownership over a short period of time. During this period, the original altar was damaged more than once, possibly also thrown out. The secular flags, the armor, the boot spurs (which were originally placed above the old mausoleums) and the crypts were removed, too. At the end of the 17th century, some priests started to place the baroque altars in place of the original damaged or destroyed altars. Even these changes in the interior of the church were not final, since during the years 1706-1710 the church was again shared between the Protestants and the Catholics. Finally, from 1710 the church got permanently under the catholic ownership, which gradually added the new altars and the pews, so by 1731, the interior contained 15 altars.
    In 1747 occurred another town fire that also penetrated through the south entrance into the interior of the church, but left only a minor damage. After this fire all the entrances, except one, were permanently sealed. The main modification after the fire was the removal of the Thurzo mausoleums from the area in front of the main altar and the installation of the tile floors using the sandstone flooring material. At the end of the 18th century, the old church steeple was taken apart down to the church roof level and the plans were made to build a new church steeple. It was finally built during the years 1852-1857 and subsequently the side chapels were also built at the back of the church. It was at that time when Václav Merklas for the first time informed the public about the value of the interior furnishings of this Levoca Church. The author of the main altar, the Master Paul from Levoca, was specifically identified. The church also gained the neo-gothic Altar of St. Elizabeth with original plate paintings from the end of the 15th century. During the years 1866-1867 the famous church organ was restored and also relocated to its current location. During the organ restoration the wall paintings on the north wall and later in the presbytery were found and restored. In connection with the major repairs, the church was installed in the 1870’s, and later in the 1890’s, new colored stained glass windows and in 1911, the present flooring was put in place. After the formation of Czecho-Slovakia in 1918, extensive renovations of the church were scheduled. These started after 1923 town fire, when the church roof burnt down. The repairs lasted up to the end of 1930’s.
    New major repairs of the church again commenced in 1948-1949. These entailed replacing of the roof covering, cleaning of the church columns and the arches, and repairing of the roof structure and the stone elements. Originally, the plan also included the renovation of the electrical installations, and during the heating installation, the replacement of the tile floor was contemplated. However, the anti-religious communist state regulations during this period, made these interior renovations impossible. Finally, the long planned organization of the restoration of the church interior started in 1952 again. Kotrbovci Brothers restored the main altar using the state funds. From this time on, they were involved in the restoration works, while other renovators were included to work on other altars, statues, board and wall paintings, which was paid primarily from the resources of the parish church and with the encouragement of the Levoca parish priest Stefan Klubert. Additional altars were restored under the direction of the parish priest Frantisek Dlugos after 1989. It should be noted, that nowadays, all the altars, the pulpit, and the organ and the rest of the church interior are restored. The restoration costs that are needed for the repair of the church exterior are exceeding the financial reserve of the parish and therefore can continue only with the participation of the state, municipal governments and various private donations.


Back to top

   1. Main altar of St. James with the sanctuary
   2. Altar of St. John
   3. Altar of St. Anna
   4. Altar of St. Peter and Paul
   5. Altar of St. Nicolas
   6. Altar of St. Catherine
   7. Altar of St. Michael Archangel
   8. Altar of 14 Helpers in Need
   9. Altar of a Good Shepherd
  10. Pew of the Krupekovci family
  11. Pew by Gregor, woodcarver from Kezmarok
  12. Triple-seat pew from the 15th century
  13. Epitaph of Alexis II Thurzo
  14. Altar of Virgin Maria Snežná
  15. Series of the wall paintings on morals and the legend of St. Dorothy
  16. Sacristy
  17. St. George Chapel
  18. North entrance hall
  19. Wall paintings below the organ chancel
  20. Altar of the Christ Birth and the Chapel of the Christ Birth
  21. Senate Pew
  22. Altar of St. Elizabeth and the Baptism Chapel with Thurzo epitaphs
  23. South entrance hall
  24. Altar of Christmas Giving
  25. Altar cabinet of Two Marias from Kurimany
  26. Altar Vir dolorum - of Matej Corvine

    The Parish Church of St. James in Leutschau is an important element in the history of the Slovak architecture. The historical analysis confirms that the construction of this project was influenced by advanced type of gothic vaulted ceiling architecture, which was the version of the staged triple-nave floor plan layout, also known as pseudo-basilical hall. Between the central and the side bays is a certain height difference, which is however substantially smaller than the one that already exists in the basilicas. The basic floor plan of the Levoca church gives you a feeling of unusually balanced architecture. This is the result of one or more very advanced construction technologies, likely influenced by the architecture of the Lower Danube region. The balanced architecture, relatively simple columns with square cross-sections and simple cross-vaulted ceiling make an impression of simplicity of this structure. In reality, this is the product of a very advanced building technology, which confirms not only the outstanding expertise of the builders, but also the reality that this church was built according to the rules of the medieval number symbolic, which can be admired in the famous French cathedrals. The triple-nave, the symbol of the Holy Trinity, is common in other churches. The importance here lays in the fact that the vaulted ceiling (the symbol of heaven) is supported by twelve columns, symbolizing the twelve apostles supporting the Church. In Latin, the meaning of the word “ecclesia” (church) was the same as the meaning of the word used for “religion”. Originally, there were five entrances into the church, signifying the five wounds of the crucified Christ. The Interior dimensions of the church are: the length is 49.5 meters (165 feet), the width is 22 meters (over 73 feet) and the height of the central nave is 19 meters (over 63 feet), due to which this Church of St. James dimensionally belongs to the largest churches in Slovakia. It is interesting that the actual sanctuary is relatively small and the front three vaulted ceiling areas are narrower than the ones in the central portion of the church bays. It may, but may not, be due to the changes in the church layout during the construction. Separate entity is the present day sacristy, also created as a sanctuary with the vaulted ceilings. The church is illuminated through tree-sectioned gothic windows built out with a variety of geometric designs consisting of the three-leaf and four-leaf shapes.
    Above the south portal is a gothic rosette. Of the two entrances, the south entrance is more imposing, because the town magistrate and more important visitors used it. The portal is built out with rich reliefs and on the column capitals are placed gargoyles with human and animal likeness, which are symbolically supposed to prevent the evil forces from entering the church. The south entrance hall has an interesting star-shaped vaulted ceiling, which has ornaments painted on the structural ribs. The north entrance hall originally had a beam ceiling, but in the first quarter of the 16th century, it got the vaulted ceiling, which was likely built at the expenses of a parish priest Jan Henckel. He also built the functional library building, located above the entrance, as well as the St. George Chapel. It is assumed that the coat-of-arms on the console belongs to him and not to the Thurzo Family, as it was originally thought. The Northern portal has simpler reliefs than the southern one. From its entrance hall leads to the gothic portal of the St. George Chapel, and the renaissance portals lead to the chancel and the library. The western chancel has a star-shaped vaulted ceiling.
    The newest additions to the church are the rear chapels situated on both sides of the church tower. They were built between the years 1859-1860. The vaulted ceilings and the windows were designed in the pseudo-gothic style. The church steeple, which had to be demolished by the end of the 18th century due to structural problems, was rebuilt in the neo-gothic style during the 1852-1858, according to the plans of the architect Friedrich Muck from Levoca. The master stonemason Ludovit Schmidt supervised the construction of the new church steeple. The roof got the new beams and the roof covering, because the old roof had been destroyed by fire in 1923.


Mural paintings
Back to top

    St. James’s Church (Chrám sv. Jakuba) in the town of Levoča is well-known mainly because of its gothic table altars. If compared to the altars, the mural paintings are not so visible at the first sight. Apart from the fact that you can find here many of them, they all are historically and artistically precious. They come from the 14th or the 15th century. In the Middle Ages, they helped to educate the illiterate population of the town in the field of faith and morality. Thus, they played an important role in deepening of Christian consciousness and life of believers. They lost their function in the 17th and 18th centuries and were practically covered by new paintings in the church, possibly by new plasters. They were discovered at the beginning of 1960s, during a general church reconstruction and were gradually renovated.
    In the chancel behind the main altar we can find the oldest mural paintings. However, just one fragment of the figures of two harvesters situated under more recent paintings was preserved and we can date it still before 1350. Shortly afterwards, the chancel got a new decoration. The paintings pass in several strips parallel next to each other. The lower strip, perhaps from 1390, crosses the whole chancel and is created by paintings of apostles altered with paintings of prophets. The apostles have a glory around their heads, holding strips with sentences from Credo - confession of faith. The prophets have also the strips in their hands. The statements are analogies taken from the Old Testament expressing confession of faith. Above them, around the tabernacle, there are paintings of the holiest Trinity, Christ's birth and crucifixion with the figure of Pilate on side. In the middle strip, there are figures of St. Margita, John the Evangelist, blessing Christ and a priest raising the Eucharist. A married couple of donators on their knees is painted on both sides of figures of saints. In the highest row, there are figures of St. Apolonia, Agnes, Dorothy and Barbara. It is probable that all of these paintings were created around the original little tabernacle and because of the construction of a new tabernacle in the 15th century, they partly lost their function and were laid over. On the round consoles, there are figures of Suffering Christ, St. Catherine, Dorothy, Margita and Barbara, as well as of St. Peter and God the Father. The christological cycle continues on sides of the consoles, picturing Resurrection, Christ in the limbo, Ascension, Day of Judgement and the Holy Ghost. In the southern part, Christ is symbolically depicted as a palm tree with a water spring. Its fruits feed deer and little lambs drink water. These mural paintings were discovered in 1862 during restoration of the tabernacle. They were renovated by František Storno, a restorer from Šoproň, in 1889 - 1890 using the financial resources of the Spiš Historical club.
    During a renovation of the main altar brothers Kotrbovci uncovered an original wall-painting on stone articles of the sanctuary and on the arch. The arch is covered by square coffers filled with a tracery in shape of a quatrefoil with a wooden six-point star in the middle. The triumphant arc is painted with a motive of grapes symbolizing Christ. These paintings were also renovated and give the evidence that in the gothic period, the stony articles were laid over with paintings, too.
    Northern walls in churches did not used to have windows and therefore usually present a suitable place for mural paintings. The northern wall in this temple of Levoča was also used for paintings of two vast cycles having character of moral lessons. In both of them there are the pictures lined up into two rows and put together with a frame. They were renovated by František Storno, the one who renovated the Morality in 1872 and the legend about St. Dorothy in 1873.
    The cycles, situated over the present sacristy, "Seven acts of mercy" and "Seven deadly sins", are treating the Christian moral. They should be read from the right to the left. The acts of mercy are created for the educated people, for the burghers who knew their symbolism. A good deed is always done to a person, who symbolizes Christ (according to his statement: In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me. Matthew 25, 40). The fact that Christ is oriented towards the main altar is also a kind of symbolism. A man and a woman in citizen’s dress do the good deeds. Citizen's houses and temples are in the background, the angels fly over them rejoicing at their good deeds. A German heading over each picture is talking about the respective deeds. It concerns the following acts of mercy: give joy to the sad, accept the pilgrims, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, dress the naked, visit the prisoners and bury the dead. The heaven is the remuneration for these acts, symbolized by the temple. In fact, they present the Christian social program. The lower row of the paintings presents the deadly sins. Again, two people perpetrate them. However, they are sitting on an animal, which symbolizes each respective sin. Over them fly little devils rejoicing at their bad deeds and helping them in the process. It concerns the following sins: Pride - the figures are looking into the mirrors to know whether they are beautiful enough; the symbol: lion. Avarice - they are fulfilling a money box and a pouch with gold, little devils are helping them in the process with their excrements; the symbol: toad. Fornication - here, a woman is active and she is tickling a man; the symbol: swine. Intemperance in eating and drinking - a bloated face of a drunken man and greediness of a fat woman; the symbol: a wolf taking a goose. Envy - a man is tearing his hair with envy, a woman is showing her teeth; the symbol: a dog, which rather eats up its bone as it, should give it to someone else. Anger - a man committing suicide, a woman is murdering her own baby; the symbol: bear. Laziness - the figures are so lazy that they even do not want to hold their heads up (they have them supported with pillows); the symbol: donkey. The bad deeds oriented out from the church end up in the maw of a dragon, the symbol of the hell. The pictures mostly date approximately until 1390. They arose under the influence of Czech paintings from the 14th century onwards.
    The social programme and the moral code were always topical in history and the same is valid in the question of freedom of thinking and speech. The field is urgently emphasized by the cycle of the legend about St. Dorothy, which despite the cruelest pursuit, glorifies stability in faith and in opinion. Dorothy is a daughter of a high Roman dignitary, driven off for his Christian world view to Capadocy. Dorothy is offered marriage and happiness on condition that she will abandon Christianity. However, despite torturing, she will keep her faith. The pictures that form the vastest cycle of this legend in central Europe are lined up into two rows over each other. The upper row should be read from the right to the left, the lower one in the opposite direction. The meaning of the pictures: 1. Dorus, father of Dorothy refuses to accept paganism and this is the reason why he is sent as outcast by the emperor to the land of Capadocy. 2. Dorus with his wife Thea and daughters Kristine and Kalixta are leaving Rome. 3. Birth of Dorothy. 4. Dorothy is baptized. 5. A vicegerent of Capadocy Fabrícius courts Dorothy's favor and wants to marry her on condition that she becomes pagan. She refuses. 6. Dorothy is tortured in a kettle with boiling oil. 7. She is imprisoned for nine days. 8. Fabrícius speaks to her once more. 9. Dorothy is tortured by whipping and burning her skin. 10. Dorothy is begging Christ to give her a sign. 11. While Fabrícius is speaking to Dorothy so that she bows down to an idol on the column, the angels throw down the idol. 12. Fabrícius speaks to both Dorothy's sisters. 13. Dorothy converts her sisters in the prison back to the Christian faith. 14. Dorothy is whipped. 15. Burning of Dorothy's sisters. 16. An executioner is leading Dorothy out from the prison. 17. Fabrícius speaks to Dorothy for the last time. 18. St. Dorothy is decapitated. Christ as a child brings her roses and apples in a small basket from the paradise garden. 19. The child brings roses and apples to the scribbler of the vicegerent Teofil who had been mocking to Dorothy before her death and had asked her to send him apples from the paradise garden. 20. The angels are putting the dead body of Dorothy into the grave. The legend was very popular in the Middle Ages. The muralist was probably came from the western part of Germany and painted them around 1420.
    In 1956 brothers Kotrbovci discovered late Renaissance mural paintings at the arch below the organ chancel, behind the northern entrance. They are dated from the year 1625. The chancel was constructed shortly after. They obviously contain secular motives: allegoric figures of Faith, Hope, Love and Justice, coats of arms of the Bobestovci family, a Hungarian and Magyar emblem, figures of fauns, mermaids and Neptune. Moreover, we can find here a little hare, arabesques, cartoon comedies, motives of fruits, etc. The motive of a rose is the most frequent one. Such paintings are unique in sacral interior. Kotrbovci restored them in 1956.
    The northern anteroom is also quite rich in mural paintings. Unfortunately, weather conditions as well as humidity of walls affected them very negatively. In 1955, Kotrbovci discovered two figures of saints in the upper right corner, which are partly covered by the arch. It was the bishop St. Erasmus and a saint woman holding a crayfish in her hand. They come from the period around 1410 and are considered to be the most beautiful mural paintings in Slovakia. On the same wall, beside the entrance into the chapel of St. George, there is another mural painting (most probably from 1370-1380) depicting Madonna with a child, St. Anton the Hermit and a figure of an unknown saint woman. The tympanum over the entrance into the chapel of St. George contains a painting of Christ in his grave, dated from 1515. Directly in front of the chapel of St. George, there is a horsemanship sculpture of St. George. A mural painting is in its background, coming from around the same period.
    The little group of crucifixion behind the altar of Matej Corvine is considered to be a treasury between mural paintings, dated probably from 1380. After a serious damage, brothers Kotrbovci renovated it in 1962. It represents the late phase of the so-called soft style and due to the colored composition and drawing style it reaches a high degree of dematerialization.
    While the church was reconstructed in 1930s, an extensive mural painting that presents the Day of Judgement was discovered in the southern anteroom. P. Kern renovated it in 1935 but since then, the weather conditions almost destroyed it. The renovation in 1969-1971 did not help much. Today, again emerge some efforts to preserve it. It is a monumental picture that contains rich demonstrations of daily life of medieval people. It comes probably from the year 1520.
    Next to the Day of Judgement there is a painted inscription from the end of the 15th century. It contains information about the stay of “bratríci” (group of followers of Ján Hus) at the Zelená hora (Green Mountain) as well as about the stay of the Jagelovci family in the town of Levoča in 1494. M. Spoločníková and F. Sysel renovated them in 1962.
    It is still necessary to mention two inscriptions from the Middle Ages situated in the rooms of the former library. One of them contains annalist records of the Levoča's history and the second one is the record of the priests in Levoča. They are not completely preserved. One painting of ideal genealogy is still situated in this space.


Back to top

 1. Main St. James Altar St. Apostle
 2. Altar of St. John
 3. Altar of St. Anna
 4. Altar of St. Peter and Paul
 5. Altar of St. Nicolas
 6. Altar of St. Catherine
 7. Altar of St. Michael Archangel
 8. Altar of 14 helpers in necessity
 9. Altar of a Good Shepherd
10. Altar of Virgin Maria Snežná
11. Altar of Lord's Nativity
12. Altar Vir dolorum - of Matej Corvine
13. Altar of two Maries
14. Altar of Christmas predella
15. Altar of St. Elisabeth Durínska
16. Altar of Virgin Maria Loretánska
17. Altar of St. John Nepomucký
18. Little altar of St. Catherine from Vyšné Repáše

    In each Catholic Church, altars present the most fundamental equipment. Usually, one altar was sufficient for the whole church. However, in the Middle Ages, many crafts, societies, but also richer burghers had their own altars constructed. To maintain them, they used to found a fund. Some of them had also their own priest (called altarist), their own property e.g. fields or libraries. The “menza”, the place where the libation is performed, forms the basis of each altar table. As in the first period of Christianity Christian altars emerged on graves of martyrs, a new tradition became common: to put mortal remains of a saint into each altar. The space between the altar table and the floor was covered either by an artistically embroidered fabric or by painted (or carved) boards, called antipendium. Another part of gothic altars was called “predella”, forming an interarticle between the altar table and the altar cabinet.
    The main artistic parts of altars were concentrated in the altar cabinet with sculptures of saints and scenes from the life of Christ or saints. The cabinet had fixed wings and it was possible to close them. The wings were painted from one, sometimes from both sides or they had reliefs from one side. The altars used to be closed during working days. Firm posterior wings on some altars are still well preserved. The altars used to be ended up by an extension, formed usually with many quadrilateral little towers. This shield underlined the fundamental orientation of gothic - its verticality. In the gothic period the carver was the main entrepreneur in production of altars, because majority of altar ornaments were done by woodcarvers. Later, in Baroque, cabinetmakers gained on importance because the works of woodcarvers just complemented cabinetmaking constructions.
    It is necessary to realize that only few complete gothic table altars were preserved in central Europe. They disappeared either during Reformation or later during Baroque, when they had to make way to Baroque altars. In some cases, woodworms and fires damaged them. Many times, historians in Europe have problems to ideally reconstruct the altars, which they know only from literature or documents. Usually, a part is missing or some sculptures or table pictures are located in various museums and collections. Therefore, it is unique that in Levoča and Bardejov so many gothic altars were preserved, and mostly at their original places for which they were created. Maybe we could be grateful for this to the more moderate Reformation, which did not result in iconoclasm, or to the fact that the catholic part of the Levoča population consisted mostly of poor people who did not have any means to substitute the olden "old-fashioned" altars by new Baroque ones as it used to happen in many other places.
    Taking these facts into account, we cannot say that there would be preserved the whole inventory of altars in Levoča as we know it from the medieval period. We know that in the 15th - 16th centuries, in St. James’s Church there were altars, which do not exist anymore today: the altar of St. Vavrinec, St. Barbara, St. Crucifix, the holiest Trinity and the altar of St. Hieronymus. It is supposed that all of them lasted out the period of Reformation in a good state, but they were destroyed during the counterreformation combats, and then replaced by some more recent altars. Even after these changes, St. James’s Church is, by quantity and quality of its medieval altars, the European and even the world rarity.

Main St. James the St. Apostle Altar (Hlavný oltár sv. Jakuba st. Apoštola)
Back to top

    This is the highest gothic altar in the world. Its height 18,62 meters, corresponds to 60 Levoča's feets and its width to 20 Levoča's feets. It fills the space of the sanctuary from floor to arch. It was created in the workshop of Master Pavol from Levoča (Majster Pavol z Levoče) as his chef d'oeuvres around 1508-1510. Then it waited without paintings and golden decoration for a longer time. It was finished up in 1517.
    It is admirable not only for its dimensions. It is clearly visible that Master Pavol perfectly managed the geometrical harmony of gothic architecture. The whole work consists of a system of circles and triangles and this is why it looks remarkably balanced. Each component has its precisely determined place. Moreover, the Master genially fixed this giant altar in the space of a quite little presbytery what makes the impression that the altar blends nicely with the architecture. Thus, it creates a harmonic whole and it complements it. Another interesting fact is that the working on this altar put together many excellent artists. The most important one was Master Pavol, who designed the altar, counted everything and made the main sculptures. The journeymen, who carved the very fine ornaments and the quadrilateral little towers, were also up to standard. The painters who decorated it with gold (it means that in the main part with the pure gold and the shield just with the false gold - they plated it with silver and repainted it with a transparent enamel) were professionals, too. Painters of the table pictures were also on professional level.
    Although it is consecrated to St. James the Apostle, the patron and the protector of the town and the church, the altar is in fact the altar of apostles. They form the basis of its iconography, making a closed iconographically programme. For the first time, we meet them at the predella, presenting the Last dinner in the moment when Christ delivers its tragic words: "One of you shall betray me".
    As the scene is presented in the Renaissance style, just two apostles perceive his words: Peter, sitting beside Christ and Judas to whom these words were addressed. Other apostles are speaking together, eating and drinking, as if there was nothing happening. This is another proof of Master Pavol's geniality. He decently managed to put such an important scene for Christians in the overshadow. Moreover, the intimacy of this otherwise public scene is emphasized by ornaments of grapevine, which are hanging as a curtain. From the technical point of view it is interesting that Master Pavol carved groups of two or three apostles from one piece of wood.
    The iconography of the apostles continues on the closed wings of the altars with the paintings. The paintings were made according to the models of Lukas Cranach and Scheufelein. They present the Gethsemane’s garden and the betrayal of Judas, Whipping, and Crowning with thorns, and the scene Ecce homo, Christ in front of Pilat's court, and Carrying of the Crucifix, Crucifixion and Resurrection. The story continues on the opened wings of the altar, although it is not presented through the paintings but in reliefs. In the scene, Sending the apostles out to the world, presented in a very human way, Master Pavol used as model of nature Marian forest, looming high over the town of Levoča. Then it presents the decapitation of St. James in Jerusalem, torturing of St. John by cooking in oil and his vision when writing the Apocalypse on the island Patmos.
    Everything culminates with the main sculptures in the altar cabinet which represent Madonna with a baby in her arms, standing on a half moon with a head of a devil, St. James and St. John, already in heaven. Their dimensions emphasize the seriousness of the position of the sculptures. Madonna is 2, 47 meters high, St. James 2, 32 meters high and St. John 2, 30 meters high. Madonna is represented as a beautiful woman in her most mature age. The svelteness of her figure is underlined by an excellent gathering of her coat and her long falling hair. Two flying angels are holding the Madonna's crown. Little Jesus holds an apple in one hand and he is blessing with another one. St. John the Apostle has also a very fine, almost a girlish face, holding in his hand a chalice with a snake. Despite these signs are both of the figures presented in a bit Mannerist style.
    The protagonist, St. James, the patron of the church, is presented as a living man with a red face. Holding pilgrim's stick in his hand he looks as if he walked and wanted to tell something to Madonna. Giving him this position Master Pavol emphasized his figure without overshadowing other figures. We should mention that these giant sculptures are carved always from one piece of linden wood.
    Because the height of the arch required a higher cabinet, which could not be filled by the sculptures, Master Pavol filled up the extension of the altar with rich quadrilateral little towers, Gothic decorative ornaments and baldachins with little sculptures of church fathers: St. Augustine, Ambrose, Hieronymus and Gregory the Great. The sculptures symbolize that the teaching of Church comes out partly from the revealing mediated by apostles but partly also from the tradition. The apostles are on the altar still once more - in the shield of a little quadrilateral tower. However, these sculptures are substantially older than the altar. They come from the year 1370 and it is possible that they were at the original main altar.
    It is almost unbelievable that such a giant work, made from flammable wood easily attackable by vermins, has survived at its place for almost 500 years. However, the church was in flames several times. Sometimes it was threatened by wars and uprisings and woodworms seriously damaged it. It was repaired in 1654, 1752 and 1861.
    After woodworms damaged it so much that it almost collapsed, the state restored it after the World War 2. Brothers František, Herman, Karol and Jozef Kotrbovci together with their team performed this responsible and meritable work in 1952-1954. After the altar was dismantled, the woodworms were destroyed by a gas called cyclone B. Then the wood was petrified with resins impregnated with liquid. They removed recent paintings, renovated and rebuilt the whole altar once again. They dismantled it for the first time since the altar was made. The team of restorers was awarded for this work a state prize in 1956.


St. John's altar (Oltár sv. Jánov)
Back to top

    The most important humanist in Levoča was Dr. Ján Henckel. He studied at universities in Vienna, Padova, Venice, Bologna and Krakow. He was an evangelical pastor in 1513-1522. Later, he became a confessor of the queen and a Canon of Bratislava. He had correspondence with Erasmus from Rotterdam. It was him who ordered St. John's altar, dated from the year 1520. His master (supervisor) was Master Pavol from Levoča. Together with the altar of St. Anna, it is made in the spirit of the Italian Renaissance. It gives the proof that Master Pavol from Levoča was an artist who knew the art of that time and performed more conservative works just upon wishes of the orders. Henckel gave him “free hand” in his work and thus Master Pavol showed how deeply he penetrated into the substance of the Renaissance style.
    The style of depicting of the altar and its decorations are typical for the Renaissance style. Its composition and artistic decoration also are at the same level. As it proves the inscription at the posterior side of its firm wing, the altar is consecrated to five Johns: In honorem sanctorum Joannis baptiste, evangeliste, elemoisinarii et chrisosthomi et huius Gersonis, Joannes Henckel anno millesimo 520 posuit (In honour of St. John the Baptist, the Evangelist, the Almsman and the Gold-mouth and this Gerson was built by Ján Henckel in 1520).
    Two of them - John the Baptist and John the Evangelist - were venerated in the whole Church. The plastics located in the altar cabinet are symbolizing them. St. John the Almsman and the Gold-mouth were venerated more in the Eastern Church. They are standing by sides and are depicted in the reliefs on the moving wings. However, each of them was to certain extent a pioneer in faith, teaching, charity and stability in faith.
    One non-saint - Ján Gerson, a chancellor of Parisian Sorbonna, who lived by the end of the 14th century, complements the group of St. Johns´ figures. He also longed for the Church reform and fought against deformations in its doctrine. He defended the power of church councils against the pope's power. It is possible that he also was a paragon for Ján Henckel, who three years after Martin Luther expressed his credo. At that time it was unusual that a man, who was not officially declared saint, could be portrayed at the altar (even if it was just at the back side of the wing).
    The paintings were created by a so far not precisely identified monogramist “TH”. They present: Dance of Salome in front of Herodes, the decapitation of St. John the Baptist, the bringing of his head to Herodes and Christ's baptism in Jordan. On the other side of the wings are the following pictures: the resurrection of Drusiana by St. John the Evangelist, John the Evangelist with a glass of poison, the revealing of Christ to John the Evangelist and John the Evangelist on his knees by the grave. At this picture, we can also see the idea how the altar should look like.
    The altar's predella with the plastic group Lamenting over Christ is very precious. Maria Magdalene is in the middle of the shield, St. Michael the Archangel is above, the figures of St. George are standing by sides, and probably, the figure of St. Stephan, the Hungarian king, is there, too. It is interesting that the altar ornaments are very mature for that period. They are formed of acanthus, flowers, dolphins with tails ending with flowers and child faces which, instead of the angels, present putti.
    The altar was repaired in 1873-1875. Brothers Kotrbovci renovated it again during 1953-1954 and M. Spoločníková treated the main sculptures in 1983.


Altar of St. Anna (Oltár sv.Anny)
Back to top

    It is a Renaissance altar, resembling to St. John's altar, but it has a bit more simple composition. It also had been made in the workshop of Master Pavol, probably before the year 1516 because it was already mentioned at that time.
    St. Anna is its basic motive, sitting in front of the curtain with her daughter Virgin Maria and her grandson Jesus, holding an angel. The sculptures are rather flat, but the effect of light and shadow makes impression of full plasticity. All figures are depicted in a very realistic way. They are sitting under a baldachin on which two angels are romping. The sculptures from the predella - probably Preaching - are missing. The motive of Christ's baptism in Jordan is on the extension.
    The altar wings´ paintings are really on high artistic level. They represent St. Kinship with very well fed figures of children: Elude, Emerius and Memeria, Zechariah and Elisabeth. In the lower corner are Ismeria and Elisabeth, Maria Kleofášova with children and Maria Salome with children. One posterior wing is missing from the altar. The ornaments are much more modest than in the case of John’s altar but it also contains vegetal motives, acanthus and dolphins.
    Herman Kotrba renovated the altar in 1965 and M. Spoločníková did the table pictures in 1970-1973.


Altar of St. Peter and Paul (Oltár Petra a Pavla)
Back to top

    The altar comes from a woodcarving workshop that worked in Levoča before coming of Master Pavol. It was made probably in 1495-1500. As to the predella, the motive of "Corpus Domini" was preferred in the Middle Ages. Christ standing up from his grave, accompanied with the reliefs of Virgin Maria and St. John the Evangelist on both sides. In the altar cabinet there are standing sculptures of St. Peter with keys and St. Paul with a sword.
    The altar wings´ paintings contain the scenes from their lives. On the open side there is St. Paul on his way to Damask, the meeting of St. Barnabas and St. Paul, the conversion of St. Paul and St. Paul while preaching in the temple. The closed wings in the upper row present the meeting of St. Paul with St. Peter, St. Peter´s preach, both saints standing in front of the emperor Nero and the decision of St. Paul to become the apostle. The lower row contains the paintings of: St. Paul by the old man's bed, St. Paul and St. Peter In front of the tower, the decapitation of St. Paul and the crucifixion of St. Peter. Neither the paintings nor the altar are renovated. We suppose that Master Nicolas from Levoča and one painter from the workshop of Master Pavol participated in the creation of these paintings.
    The slender extension of the little quadrilateral tower has a very rich figural decoration located in three levels parallel next to each other. You can also find there little sculptures of St. Sebastian, Virgin Maria, two unspecified apostles and a sculpture of St. Ondrej. One little sculpture is missing. The altar was repaired in 1873 and renewed by the experts of State renovation ateliers from Levoča in 1993.


Altar of St. Nicolas (Oltár sv. Mikuláša)
Back to top

    This altar belongs to those where we know the exact date of its origin. At the same time it is one of the altars, which were not preserved completely, and their current appearance does not correspond to originals.
    The altar was made in the workshop of Master Pavol in 1507. The excellently carved sculptures of St. John the Almsman (with a stick and a pouch) as well as the sculpture of St. Leonard were also made by Master Pavol. However, the sculpture of St. Nicolas (in the middle) is substantially older and probably comes from 1360-1370. It is not certain whether it was originally in the parochial church or somewhere else. In Levoča there was also the church of St. Nicolas, situated southwards from the current place but it disappeared in the Middle Ages. Thus, it is possible that the sculpture got to the so-called “hospital church” in the 15th century and that in 1507 or later, it gained its current appearance. We also know that the altar of St. Nicolas was dismantled during the re-catholization and it served in Závada around 1702.
    The present altar was finished and consecrated in 1731. The extension of a little quadrilateral tower was damaged probably during its transfer and this is the reason why the altar got a baroque shield instead. Originally, the predella could also be a part of another altar. It pictures 14 helpers in necessity: St. George, Christopher, Blazej, Egad, Pantaleon, Erasmus, Vít, Dionysus, Cyriak, Achát, Eustace, Catherine, Barbara and Margita. On the front side of the altar wings, there are scenes from the legend about St. John the Almsman sitting on a throne and giving alms to the poor. After his death, he is helping to a widow giving her back the promissory note, which her husband had paid off; St. Leonard, freeing the prisoners, is on the other side of the wings.
    The content of the picture at the bottom of the right wing is also interesting. It pictures a legend about the establishment of Klosterneuburg by Vienna. St. Leopold with his wife is looking out of the window of the castle. The breeze takes the veil from his wife. After a certain time, St. Leopold goes hunting to Danube river forests and finds the lost veil. He considers it as a sign that he should found a monastery on this place. A rich merchant from Vienna surroundings was probably the one who paid for the altar. People like him lived in Levoča in that period. The picture concerns one of the few depictions of this legend in the middle ages. Brothers Kotrbovci renovated the altar in 1955. In 1991 it was renovated again in State renovation ateliers in Levoča.


Altar of St. Catherine (Oltár sv. Kataríny)
Back to top

    It is one of the oldest preserved altars in the church. A triptych belonging to the oldest table pictures in Slovakia forms the predella. It probably comes from 1400. In the middle, it displays Christ on a throne among angels; James's dream is on the right side and on the left, there is a more recent scene of St. Sofia with daughters: Faith, Hope and Love (the original scene was removed). The pictures look as if they remembered the influence of the iconological painting from the East. The sculpture of St. Catherine, coming probably from 1460, is the most precious one in the altar cabinet. Other figures are painted here: St. Margita and St. Barbara. Trigonal shields are painted on the altar wings. The scenes on the wings display the dispute of St. Catherine, the decapitation of St. Catherine, the torturing of St. Catherine and breaking her bones on a wheel. In the shields there are portraits of prophets Samuel and Isaiah and on the posterior part of the wings there are Pained Virgin Maria and Pained Christ.
    A. Darolová renewed the paintings and in 1961, H. Kotrba worked on the sculpture.


Altar of St. Michael the Archangel (Oltár sv. Michala Archanjela)
Back to top

    The original altar, in front of which the mayor of Levoča took an oath, was damaged during the anti-reformation fights. Just a sculpture remained which was adjusted to the sculpture of St. Florin and it served in this form on an independent altar and then in the shield of the Corvine's church.
    During its renovation, the renovators found out that it is not the sculpture of St. Florin but the one of Michael the Archangel. They renewed it and built a more recent altar of St. Michael the Archangel, made by a parish priest from Levoča, M. Frivaisz in 1719-1731. The author of the picture is unknown.


Altar of 14 helpers in necessity (Oltár 14 pomocníkov v núdzi)
Back to top

    The altar consists of a big picture in an artistically carved frame. It stands at the altar table, from which the original altar was removed during Tököly's uprising in 1683. It happened at the command of a parish priest of Levoča, Štefan Györfy in 1696 and it was consecrated in 1715.
    The altar was renewed in 1875. The picture consists of the same saints that are pictured on the predella of the altar of St. Nicolas.


Altar of a Good Shepherd (Oltár Dobrého pastiera)
Back to top

    This altar occupies the position of an original altar, which was removed in 1683. Following the wish of the parish priest of Levoča, Štefan Györfy in 1696, the altar was consecrated in 1715.
    The altar picture displays Christ as a Shepherd. Its beautiful valuable frame has an angel on the upper part. Originally, they were also two crowns with Czech garnets. On the side scene there is a thief creeping into the window of a pastoral house. It was renewed in 1875.


Altar of Virgin Maria Snow-white (Oltár Panny Márie Snežnej)
Back to top

    It belongs to the most valuable and historically most precious altars. It is standing on the front part of the northern nave. In the predella, it has a relief of Perching Christ and two coats of arms by sides: a coat of arms of Levoča and a polish eagle. This tells us that the Jagelovci brothers gave the money for the construction of this altar when they met at a secret meeting in Levoča in 1494. This is the reason why sometimes, it is also called the Altar of thirteen Spiš towns.
    It was made in a Levoča's woodcarving workshop, which worked here already before coming of Master Pavol and in which the altars of St. Peter and St. Paul were made. Inside the huge cabinet there is a sculpture of Virgin Maria - a little bit “above life-size” (180 cm) with a crown on her head and little Jesus in her arms. Two angels hold her long coat. Four sculptures of saint women are by sides of the cabinet: Barbara, Dorothy, Catharine and Margita. Some smaller sculptures are also in the rich shield of the little quadrilateral tower. It is painful Christ between two angels and St. James the Apostle.
    The table pictures on the wings form a self-contained iconographical programme of the Marian cycle. On the open side, it consists from the Preaching, Visit of Elisabeth, Birth and Bowing of three kings. On the closed side are the scenes from Circumcision of Christ, Escape to the Egypt, Murders of Innocent babies, 12-year-old Christ in the temple, Christ's Revealing to Virgin Maria after the Resurrection, Ascension of Christ, Death of Virgin Maria and her Crowning. The author of these paintings was an excellent painter. František Storno from Šoproň renewed them in 1872-1873 and Ľudovít Belický repaired the altar architecture. The altar was on exhibition of Slovak gothic in Prague in the inter-war period. Anna Svetková, Ladislav Székely, Juraj Maták and Štefan Siváň renewed it in the State renovation ateliers from Levoča in 1995-1997.


Altar of Lord's Nativity
Back to top

    An immured group of sculptures consisting of a Madonna on her knees, St. Joseph, three angels and two Shepherds were found in the town hall of Levoča on the 14th November 1698. The sculptures were brought to the church and put beside the main altar. The sculptures were on high artistic level. Later, it was found out that it was the work of Master Pavol.
    In 1752, Mikuláš Csáky, Ostrihom's bishop, gave the order for creation of a baroque altar, where sculptures, presenting a scene of Christ's birth were placed. The altar was standing in the front of the southern nave for a long time. Madonna reminds the Madonna from the famous altar of Vít Stwosz from Krakow. The other sculptures are also “above average”.
    An academic painter Jordán, from the town of Prešov, renewed them in 1935 (followed by brothers Kotrbovci, who brought the whole altar to the present place in the back chapel in 1955).


Altar Vir dolorum - of Matej Corvine (Oltár Vir dolorum - Mateja Korvína)
Back to top

    The altar is standing beside the front wall of the southern nave and it belongs to the greatest altars in the temple. Its name - altar of Matej Corvine - arose on basis of the fact that in predella, it has the coat of arms of Matej Corvine and his second wife, Beatrice from Naples. This means that it is a gift of the mentioned sovereign marital couple to the town of Levoča. Matej Corvine visited Levoča in 1474, but he married Beatrice only in 1476. Considering the fact that the sculpture of St. Ondrej is in the shield of the altar, it is possible that it was a votive altar. It means, its purpose was to help the sovereign to get a male successor. The altar surpasses other altars in Levoča. It has rather a court than a civic character. We do not know whether the altar was made in Levoča or it was imported.
    Around 1480, when the altar was made, a woodcarver Ján lived in Levoča. We can suppose that he was the author of this altar. We also do not know whether its contemporary wings were its original part or they come from another altar, as they are a bit smaller than the altar cabinet. The position of this altar in the church often changed. In 1700, it should stand in the main nave. It seems that it was also removed from the temple in 1683 and then additionally put together, as it was consecrated in 1731. By its sides were the figures with a Passion motive that however, were removed in 1784.
    The altar stood beside the southern wall of the southern nave for a long time, next to the immured little portal. After brothers Kotrbovci renovated it in 1955-1956, it was placed on its contemporary position. In the cabinet there is a plastic of Man in pain showing his wounds. A bit smaller sculptures of Virgin Maria and St. John the Evangelist are by sides. Allegedly, the faces of these two figures are not the portraits of the royal couple. It seems that it is really like this. Especially on the face of St. John appear many features of Matej Corvine.
    The monstrance, adored by two angels, dominates in a very softly elaborated extension. The upper part is finished up by the sculpture of St. Ondrej. On the left side of the altar, there is a smaller sculpture, originally considered a royal jester. Nevertheless, during the restoration the inscription identifying the plastic as prophet Isaiah was found.
    The altar wings paintings are exceptional from the artistic point of view. The author of prominent paintings is probably the painter Mikuláš from Levoča. The paintings on the back have similar features to the scenes on the altar in the chapel of the Zápoľský family in Spišská Kapitula. It seems that Schongauer influenced them. The front side of altar wings pictures pairs of saint men and women: St. Sebastian and St. Christopher, St. John the Baptist, St. James the Apostle, St. Barbara and St. Catherine, St. Dorothy and St. Margita. On the closed wings are scenes from the life of Virgin Mary: Preaching, Visit, Birth of Christ and Bowing of three Kings.


Altar of two Maries (Oltár dvoch Márií)
Back to top

    It is the cabinet of the altar of two Maries, which originally was in Kurimany. It presents both Maries going with perfumes to the Christ's grave.
    The altar comes from 1620s and it seems that its author is a journeyman from the workshop of Master Pavol. He probably worked there on the raiments. They are perfectly elaborated, but the faces and the hands are done in a very simple way.


Altar of Christmas predella (Oltár vianočnej predely)
Back to top

    In front of the bricked up entrance of the southern wall, there is an altar, put together from parts of other altars. The predella is especially remarkable. It presents an excellent painting of Bowing of three kings, influenced by the Danube school paintings. The majority of the painting’s surface shows views at the beautiful Danube countryside. It comes from an unknown altar.
    František Kotrba restored it in 1957. On the altar, there is an altar cabinet from about the beginning of the 16th century, with four sculptures from the period around 1420, presenting St. James Sr., John the Evangelist, John the Baptist and St. George. The crucified above them also comes from that period. The paintings of the altar wings are from a younger period. They present St. Hieronymus and Bartholomew on the front side and Painful Christ and Painful Virgin Maria on the back side.
    The little altar, which sculptures were restored by H. Kotrba in 1961 and paintings by A. Darolová, were all put together into one unit.


Altar of St. Elisabeth Durínska (Oltár Alžbety Durínskej)
Back to top

    It is situated in the back part of the southern nave in baptismal chapel. Only the table pictures, coming from 1493, are original. They were probably determined for the main altar of St. Elisabeth Church, which was standing in front of the Levoča ramparts. However, it was destroyed for strategic reasons in the first half of the 16th century. Then, the pictures were transferred to the parochial church of St. James and became a part of the altar for a certain time. Later, they were not used any more. Professor Václav Merklas re-discovered them in 1857 and according to his suggestion, the cabinetmaker Širokovský from Levoča made a new gothic altar for them. It was consecrated in 1875.
    The altar was standing on its current place already at the time when the chapel was almost finished in 1861. The bishop of Spiš, Záboyský, gave the money for the construction of the altar. This is the reason why his coat of arms is placed on the altar. Mikuláš from Levoča is probably the author of the pictures on the front side of the altar wings. On one of the front parts you can see the scenes from the life of St. Stephan: his capture and stoning. On the other side you can notice the scenes from the life of St. Elisabeth: the miracle with cross and treatment of a sick. On the back side of the wings there are pictures of St. Bernard, Alexia, Hedwig and Helena. In the middle of the altar cabinet, there is a figure of St. Elisabeth and St. Stephan the Martyr and St. Florin standing by her sides. B. Slánsky restored the altar picture in 1937. The whole altar is currently before the renovation.


Altar of Virgin Maria Loretánska (Oltár Panny Márie Loretánskej)
Back to top

    It was made around 1700 in the baroque style and was consecrated in 1731.
    Today, you can find it in the Corvine's oratory.


Altar of St. John Nepomucký (Oltár sv. Jána Nepomuckého)
Back to top

    A parish priest from the so-called white Benedictines order from Campo di Maldulo, coming from the town Red Monastery, bought the baroque altar in 1729. He placed it at the northern wall, beside the sacristy. It was consecrated in 1731.
    After the mural paintings were discovered on the northern wall, some problems emerged, because they were partly covered by the altar. Therefore, after the general church renovation in 1875, the altar was not put back onto its original place but to a newly built altar table, in the chapel of St. George where, in it remains until today.


Little altar of St. Catherine from Vyšné Repáše (Oltárik sv. Kataríny z Vyšných Repášov)
Back to top

    The altar was saved during the liquidation of the Diocesan museum in Spišská Kapitula in 1950s. After it was renovated by A. Darolová in 1977-1978, it was placed into the chapel of St. George.
    It was made in 1510-1520. The altar cabinet contains the sculpture of St. Catherine. On the front part of the altar wings, there are pictures of St. Barbara and Dorothy. On the back part, there are the ones of St. Apolónia and St. Otília.


Independent plastic sculptures
Back to top

    Besides the altars in St. James’s Church, there is an array of valuable sculptures. Groups of them are standing independently. There are so many sculptures that they would create an interesting and valuable gallery. Some of them were designed for independent standing (crosses, Crucifixion groups), while the others were designed to be a part of altars. Most of them come from Levoča and they always were in St. James’s Church.
    The Crucified. It belongs to the oldest plastics in the church. It is on a special type of cross (called "tree of life") in front of the main altar. It is supposed that it was created in 1350, eventually sooner. It presents the crucified Christ not yet as a winner, but according to the older concept of man, mutilated by wounds and pains. It emphasizes the naturalistic presentation of blood, wounds, and wounded ribs and so on. Just the face features are already beautiful, indicating victory over death and sins. A. Darolová renovated it in 1971.
    Group of Crucifixion in the northern anteroom. It was created in 1460 -1480 by an unknown author. Face features are rougher, as if it was elaborated by a stone carver - sculptor. Naturalistic elements are emphasized (blood). Brothers Kotrbovci restored the group in 1955.
    Group of Crucifixion at the Corvine's oratory. It substitutes the Crucifixion that is usually placed on the beam in the triumphant arch. It is located on the balustrade of the southern chancel of the church called Corvine’s oratory. The sculptures higher than life-size (180-200 cm) and are made from linden wood. They come from the end of the 15th century. It is supposed that they come directly from the Master Pavol's workshop and that together with the Csáky's Madonna and the sculpture of St. George, they represent his masterwork. Other sculptures have different handwriting. On both ends of the cross arms, there are four medallions symbolizing the evangelists. Brothers Kotrbovci renovated them in 1962.
    Group of Crucifixion, baroque style. It is situated in the external part of the southern wall of the church. Protected by an artistically forged grid, it is located on the place where you can find a bricked up entrance. Thanks to the indulgence act in 1747 the cross is adored by the believers very much. Its position is related to Jesuitical missions during the re-catholization.
    Plastics of St. Rochus and Kosmas. They are made from one piece of wood and are standing on the posts of the organ chancel. St. Rochus and Kosmas are protectors against the sea. They come from about 1500 and have the original polychromy. Brothers Kotrbovci restored them in 1955.
    Horsemanship sculpture of St. George. It belongs to the most valuable works in this church. It is very probable that it is the work of Master Pavol (is it his masterwork?) from about 1515. It is standing on the original console in the corner of the St. George Chapel. The space behind is complemented by mural paintings related to the legend about St. George. The group consists of three independent plastics having a close relation to the sculpture of St. George in the church in Spišská Sobota. Herman Kotrba renovated the sculptures in 1973.
    Pieta. It is standing beside the post next to the northern entrance of the church. It comes from the Diocesan museum. We suppose that it is a work of a folk woodcarver and thus, the dating is not certain.
    Madonna from Uloža. It is a partly damaged Madonna coming from the village Uloža. It is located in the St. George Chapel, belonging to the most important early Gothic works in Slovakia. Probably, it was made before 1350.


Back to top

    The sanctuary, the place where the Eucharist (the Corp of Christ) is stored, is the most important place in each Catholic Church. Today the sanctuaries - tabernacles - are placed on altars. In the Middle Ages the Eucharist was kept in the so-called pastophories, which made the majority of the alcove in the wall of the sanctuary behind the altar, or they had a form of little towers. St. James’s Church in Levoča has three such pastophories.
    The most important pastophory is situated on the left from the main altar. It has a form of two towers standing on a little foot from a hexalateral stone. It is 14,6 m tall. The rich decoration of little quadrilateral towers, crabs and so on is either from stone or from stucco. The tabernacle was probably made in the first half of the 15th century and Jozef Faragó, a sculptor, renovated it in 1863.
    Two other pastophories are a bit less known. Both of them are located in the today's sacristy, which originally, was an independent chapel. One of them, in the form of a portal with three little towers, comes from the 14th century and arose in the period when the floor level in the chapel was much lower than today. Until recently, it was considered a wash-hand basin. Allegedly, it is a study for the northern portal of the parish church in Spišská Nová Ves. Next to it, there is a slender pastophory from the 15th century.


Back to top

    It is situated in the back of the main nave; because it was created in the period of reformation and in the evangelical churches, pulpits usually have the central position. The original pulpit was in the front part of the main nave.
    A cabinetmaker, Krištof Kollmitz from Olomouc (Czech Republic), made the contemporary pulpit in the Renaissance style in 1625-1626. After the fight on the hill White Mountain, he went to the exile and settled down in the town of Levoča. Hans Schmit and Pavol Unterbaum effected the sculpturally decoration. Their sculpturally work is rather on lower level, but in spite of this, considering its dimensions, architecture and iconography, the pulpit presents an important artistically work. The artist depicted here the genesis of Christianity.
    The whole pulpit is standing on the head of Moses, holding Decalogue - the natural law - in his hands. The lower part contains the scenes from the Old Testament: Abraham's sacrifice, Samson in the camp of the Philistines and the fight of James with an angel - the roots of the Christianity in the Jewishness.
    Four evangelists and St. Paul are on the upper part. It is decorated by a sculpture of resurrected Christ - the basis of Christianity. Anton Kramer, a patrician from Levoča, was the one who made the pulpit. Brothers Kotrbovci repaired the upper part of the pulpit in 1954. J. Kuc and Ľ. Krajčírik renovated it in 1995-1996.


Back to top

    The temple of Levoča already had one organ in the 15th century. Later it had temporarily two organs. The contemporary organ was made in 1624 -1630 by Hans Hummel, an organ-maker from Krakow, a cabinetmaker Andrej Hertel from Krakow and by a sculptor Hans Schmit originally from Denmark. The organ was made at the costs of the town and a rich burgher Fridrich Pobst. As the organ-maker Hummel died in 1630 because of his fall from scaffolding, the organ was finished by a polish organ-maker Juraj Nitrovský.
    Originally, the organ was not on the same place as today. Initially, it was hanging in the northern nave, between two columns of the organ chancel and in that time, it was considered the most important monument in Levoča. It had 27 registers and till the half of the 19th century, it was the biggest organ in Hungary. In 1865 -1877 it was moved by the company of an organ-maker from Salzburg, Ludwig Mooser, onto its current place. The positive remained on its original place and the whole machine was replaced from inside. It got 34 registers. A well-known company Rieger from Krnov (Czech Republic) also replaced the machine in 1931-1932.
    The original organ cabinet, richly decorated with ornaments and sculptures, is more than remarkable. In the upper part, there are two gryphons holding the coat of arms of Levoča, two trumpeting angels are by sides. In the lower part there is the coat of arms of the Pobstovci family. The positive of this organ is currently not working and it is situated in the eastern balustrade of the organ chancel. Here, the original pipes were preserved.
    State renovation ateliers in Levoča restored the organ and the cabinet in 1997-2000. P. Franzen and R. Mašlár restored the musical part.


Baptismal font
Back to top

    A bronze baptismal font, coming from the last quarter of the 14th century, is standing, in the so-called baptismal chapel, at the back of the southern nave in front of the altar of St. Elisabeth Durínska. It has a form of a gothic chalice. It is the work of a bell manufacturing workshop from Spišská Nová Ves.
    It has a rich decoration concentrated in the upper part in several strips of the vegetal paragon. Along the perimeter of the baptismal font there are scenes with repeated motive of Crucifixion, banked with four busts, probably representing prophets and then St. Peter and Paul.
    The middle whorl is decorated with the busts of 12 prophets.


Back to top

    In the Middle Ages, pews were an important part of the church. Especially, in the period of reformation, more important families had their places reserved or they had their own pews. In Levoča a few pews from the Middle Ages are still well preserved. Many of them have high historical and artistic value.
    Two pews were preserved from the 15th century. The first one is the so-called senatorial pew, located rather at the back of the church and the second one is the so-called pew of White Lady from Levoča which is a bit smaller. It is more beautiful and better decorated. The senatorial pew has the year 1494 on the streamer, and it was probably made for four Jagellonian brothers who had a secret meeting in Levoča that year. The pew really has four divisions. Over each seat - apart the middle one - is an ornament always representing a different flower. Not the whole decoration was preserved. Since 1538, it served to the Town council of Levoča. The front kneeler part, is from the year 1615. Both of the pews were renovated in 1960s.
    Many remarkable pews from the 16th century remained preserved up to present day. One of them is close to the column beside the northern entrance in the central nave. It was richly decorated by marquetry. The scenes at the pictures represent towns and temples, having mature Renaissance character. It was made by a master Gregory from the town of Kežmarok, who did it according to the original inscription at the beginning of the 16th century. Besides is a pew, belonging, according to the coat of arms, to the richest merchant family, the Krupekovci family, originally from Krakow (Poland). It was made in 1542 and has a rich marquetry from different types of wood. Its beauty became apparent especially after Herman Kotrba restored it in 1968.
    Still more pews, or just their parts are in the church, coming from the 17th century. However, the majority of them come from the 19th century. The pews in the back of the central nave were made in 1845, the smaller ones in the front part in 1862.


Back to top

    The church is illuminated by high triplicate gothic windows with nice traceries in the upper part. They are situated in the eastern and southern part and one of them is in the northern one. We do not know whether they were originally filled with artistic stained glass windows. Probably not. However, the change of glass is often mentioned in the accounting records of past centuries, but the stained glass is mentioned not a single time. The contemporary stained glass windows come from the second half of the 19th century. Some patrons ordered them, but stained glass production was already industrialized at that time. The iconography is more or less accidental.
    In 1970s, when the church was being repaired, an art historian, Dr. Ján Vajdovský who was a parish priest in Spišské Vlachy, professionally supervised it. At his instance the windows were also repaired, because they already were in a very bad state. He also inspired the authors to use the stained glass, advising the Spiš bishop Juraj Császka to order three windows in the company Tiroler Glasmalerei und Cathedralen-Glashtütte in Innsbruck. The windows were delivered in 1876 and installed the following year. They picture St. Stephan, St. Ladislav and a window behind the altar has just a caisson paragon.
    The other windows were made by the company of Eduard Kratzmann from Budapest in 1893. After Juraj Császka became the archbishop in Kaloča, he paid for three of them. The other windows were paid by a local presbytery and the priest Celestín Kompányik. They picture St. George, St. Martin, the Untainted, St. James, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist. In the baptismal font is pictured St. František Xaverský and the Divine heart is behind the altar of Virgin Maria Snow-white.
    The window in the Chapel of Nativity remained without stained glass. The windows were damaged during the war and repaired in 1955-1956. Their artistic value is not very high.


Epitaphs and mortuaries
Back to top

    St. James’s Church is well known mainly because of its main altar from Master Pavol. A unique complex of gothic altars is less known. The same concerns the vast complex of epitaphs and mortuaries, coming from the period between the 14th and the 18th century. Probably, it is the biggest complex in Slovakia. It has more than forty tombstones, tables and shields, all of them having different artistic value. They have an immense cultural and historical value. In the Renaissance period and during Reformation, the attention of man shifted from God (spiritual world) to the man (material world). The man started to interfere with gravestones into the space of temples. The altars were not made any more. Gravestones, shields and stones devoted to the dead people buried in the church, were made instead. Such a burying was common until the rule of Joseph II. who prohibited it. However, later, people came back to such a way of burying and the crypts are rarely used in cemeteries today. During the process of re-catholization (or counterreformation) many epitaphs were removed from the churches, considered profane and not belonging into the sacral space. Cultured manners of the inhabitants of Levoča also support the fact that after the reformation they kept the old altars, the same that as they did after the re-catholization period - they had also kept many epitaphs and gravestones in the churches. They just removed flags, armours and arms, which accompanied both events. It is true that many gravestones smoothed out and thus were destroyed, which was the result of fixing them into the church floor and walking on them. Many of them were saved, because in the 19th century they were fixed close to the walls of the church. Some epitaphs remain on their original place. It concerns mostly the stone epitaphs that were immediately during the installation well fixed either to the walls or to the columns. However, due to the painting of the church and the restoration process, many epitaphs were moved somewhere else. Mostly, they were moved to the chapels in the back that had to get the character of certain galleries. We have to note that the vicarage let to restore many epitaphs at their own costs. The state contributed to the restoration work just recently.
    Epitaphs and mortuaries have a very high artistic value. On many of them dominates a painted picture, a sculptured decoration or they are an artistic work because of their architecture or the artistic composition. Most of them have the coats of arms of respective families. Thus, they are an irreplaceable source of patrician and civic heraldic. Practically, all of them have inscriptions containing the name of the deceased person, his/her age, the date of his/her death, but also his/her titles from which we can deduct his/her social position. The epitaphs do not belong only to the burgher, but also to the high nobility, especially to the Turzo family which, played an important role in our history. Almost each epitaph tells us about where the respective family came from to the town of Levoča or what did they do for living. Quotations from the Bible are also frequent, the same as from the poems. It tells us something about their cultural level as well as about the cultural influences. The inscriptions are mostly in Latin but you can also find some in German what should be considered as a German linguistic relic. Local woodcarvers and stone carvers made the majority of the epitaphs. However, some of them also come from abroad, made for order and imported here. We would like to draw your attention to the most important among them.
    The oldest gravestone is in St. James Chapel, probably on its original place. It is from the red marble and it belongs to Juraj Ulenbach, the master builder of this chapel, the burgher from the town of Košice, who died in 1392. Apart from the circle writing, the stone also contains his coat of arms; a shield with a double cross turned over and intersected by a wavy line. The jewel on the helmet has an owl, in German Eule (Eulenbach, Ulenbach).
    In the northern anteroom there are two round grave shields - mortuaries. One of them belongs to the captain of German landsknechts Wilhelm von Reichenburg from 1538 and the second one to the captain of the Spiš castle, Krištof Perner, who died in 1528. A woodcarver and painter from Levoča, Valentin, made them.
    The most important family, having in churches the majority of the epitaphs and mortuaries, is the family of Turzo. They came from Betlanovce and they lived in Levoča in the 15th - 16th century. Many of them, even if they performed various functions out of Levoča, wanted to be buried in St. James’s Church where they had their crypts and sarcophagus, namely in the central nave, in front of the main altar. In 1753, they were liquidated at the command of the town and during this process, the town took a lot of beautiful jewels from the graves. They also sold coffins made from tin, copper or silver. The stone graves got approximately on their current place, into the baptismal font in the back. Some of them were placed somewhere else. The oldest epitaph is the one of the Turzo family, located in the external part of the southern nave. Made from the red marble, it comes from the second half of the 15th century. There are more Turzo's epitaphs with a coat of arms in the baptismal font, having also the figure of the deceased. The oldest one is the epitaph of John I. Turzo, a mining expert and burgher of Krakow (Poland) who died in 1508. Another one is the epitaph of John II. Turzo, the main governor of the Spiš region, deceased in 1558. The epitaph of Alexius I. Turzo, situated in the baptismal font, is artistically the most precious one. Alexius was the owner of the mines and a financier. Later he held a high function of a royal official and a royal judge. The epitaph is a beautiful illustration of German renaissance and it probably arose in Augsburg. It was made from white marble and it pictures a cross under which there is him on the knees, together with his wife and three daughters. He died in 1543. The epitaph of Alexius II. Turzo from 1594 is also very precious. It is located in the main church nave near the fourth column, presenting the deceased on his knees, being given his soul - a child - from God. In the lower part of the epitaph is the dead body of Turzo, from whom his soul comes out in a form of a child. In the shield over the epitaph there are two dolphins, typical for Levoča. Krištof III., the main governor of the Spiš and the Šariš region (died in 1614), also had a marble epitaph and a wooden mortuary. Palatine Stanislaw Turzo, the main governor of the Spiš region, had the same epitaph, too. His one is on a higher artistic level. The epitaph was made in 1626, by a sculptor from Spišské Vlachy, Hans Weinhardt. At the same time, it is the last Turzo's epitaph in the church of Levoča, as shortly after that, the Turzo’s family died out.
    The most precious one in the church, from the historical point of view, is an epitaph from 1621. A stone carver and mason Martin Urbanovitz made it for his wife Margita, the granddaughter of Master Pavol from Levoča. It was just from its inscription that we learnt that the author of the main altar in Levoča was Master Pavol. Originally, the epitaph was located on the external wall of the southern anteroom of the church. As it was damaged by the weather conditions, it was renovated in 1989-1990 and located in the interior of the church. The copy is in the room on the first floor of the bell tower.
    Beside the altar of Virgin Maria Snežná, close to the entrance into the sacristy, there are two remarkable epitaphs. The simpler one, coming from 1593, belongs to a merchant of international importance, Gregory Tribel "de Jarisch in Ivanovics". The second one, more sumptuous, dated from 1612, has more plastics from alabaster. It belongs to an important mining expert, Anton Rhael from the Bavarian town Schrobenhausen, predecessor of the Rollovci family. This is the reason why the village was called Rolová Huta.
    On the second column of the nave you can find a fixed stone epitaph of Juraj Engelhart with the coat of arms from 1598. Above the northern entrance into the church we can see a beautifully decorated mortuary from 1649 with the coat of arms of a well-known patron of the church Fridrich Pobst. It was him who let to build the organ and the pulpit. A similar mortuary with the coat of arms, but completely gold-plated, is also on the organ chancel, next to the pulpit. It belongs to a well-known merchant, Jeremiah Amman.
    In the posterior part of the northern nave, we can find a simple epitaph of Matúš Rompauer from 1640. The space of the back chapel of the northern nave was used for hanging more wooden epitaphs, which before, hung on various places in the church. On two of them you can find the reliefs - the Ascension on the epitaph of the merchant Ján Swabach (from 1670) and the Judgement Day on the epitaph of Matej Gosnovicer (from 1669). Moreover, there are valuable pictures - the Resurrection of Lazar and the Nativity (Birth on the epitaph of the senator of the town Juraj Girschner from 1672).
    The baptismal font in the southern aisle is overfull with epitaphs and grave shields. The monuments in the memory of the family of Turzo predominate. Apart from this are here also epitaphs with valuable pictures, e.g. James's dream on the epitaph of Juraj Buchwald from 1602, the Judgement Day on the epitaph of senator Vavrinec Greff from 1609 and two more with motives of the Gethsemane’s garden and betrayal of Judas are on the opposite wall.
    The more important epitaphs are in the southern nave. The biggest epitaph in the church at all is near the baptismal font and belongs to John Wolf who was attacked by bandits when he carried the municipal money to the town of Prešov. After he got back home, he yielded to the injuries. The epitaph comes from the year 1625 and contains the motive of Christ in the grave. Beside the entrance there is a stone epitaph of Daniel Putischer with his coat of arms (1652). On the other side of the entrance, there is a nice epitaph with the relief of the Resurrection of Lazar belonging to Mikuláš Hain, father of the well-known chronicler from Levoča, dated to 1659. Then you can also see the epitaph of Hiob Zabler, a pastor from Levoča, having a relief depicting Resurrection of a girl dated to 1663, made for his wife.
    The family of Langovci belonged to the richest. They also married with well-situated merchant families in Levoča. Two sumptuous epitaphs from black marble complemented by alabaster sculptures show their richness. They are located in the front of the southern nave, beside the altars of St. Anna and St. Johns. The central motive on the epitaph of Krištof Lang from Krakow is a cross, while the main surface of the epitaph belonging to Ján Lang, is the inscription. The second epitaph comes from the year 1639. It was probably during the pocess of fixing, when the posterior wing from the altar of St. Anna was took apart. Consequently, the wing got lost.
    Many epitaphs are also placed on the external part of the church. As a result of adverse weather conditions many of them are no more readable today. In 1988 the epitaph of Michal Eickler dated from 1629 was renovated and its copy was placed on the western wall of the southern anteroom.


Handicraft monuments
Back to top

    The handicraft was present almost at all known monuments: in the architecture, in the altars, the epitaphs and so on. Apart from it, in St. James’s Church, there are many smaller handicraft products that couldn’t be included in the previous chapters. However, this fact does not decrease their value. Usually, a visitor does not take notice of them and thus, he deprives himself a lot. We want to mention at least the most important ones among them.
    The pews present a special chapter themselves. It is obviously a precious artistic handicraft work. We should also point at some other valuable works from wood. It concerns especially a smaller door in the Renaissance style leading from the northern anteroom to the former library. They are decorated with a simple but artistically very precious marquetry. In the sacristy, there is a cabinet made by Olaf Engelholm around 1690. It has spiral columns and it is decorated with other baroque motives. We can also include the contemporary entrances into the church. They do not present a precious artistic work, but have served for many centuries. Alexander Greisinger, a cabinetmaker, made them in 1876.
    The works of artistic blacksmiths are very important, too. One of the most precious is a forged gate leading from the northern anteroom into the St. George Chapel. The whole gate surface is riveted with larger stripes, divided into smaller squares, which are filled with a plastically wrought circle having a rosette and a star in its centre. The top of this smithery art is a wrought rapper hitched in the maw of a stylized dragon. Dating of the gate is not always the same. It varies from the beginning of the construction of the chapel at the end of the 14th century till 1515 when it had to be already finished.
    In the temple, there are many grilles that separate western chapels from the church or have other functions. They have Renaissance style and perhaps originally, they were part of a railing around the tombs of the Turzo family, situated in the middle of the church. The entrance into the original sacristy, beside the altar of Matej Corvine, has a grid of lower quality. However, it has an artistically precious rapper from iron.
    The handicraft reaches the highest quality in the work of goldsmiths. The temple treasure contains a lot of them, coming from the period between the 14th century and the 20th century. One of the most known is an old ciborium dated between the 14th century and the beginning of the 16th century, belonging originally to the church of the leprous. You can find here very artistic gothic chalices, ciboriums and reliquaries. Gothic works are predominating. Artistically are the most attractive the works of a goldsmith from Levoča, Ján Szilassy, who lived and worked here in the 18th century. Medallions from enamel present the typical sign of his work. They are decorating many of their works. In Levoča, you can find more of his chalices. He is also author of three splendid monstrances. However, the temple treasury also includes other works from metal. Brazen pot for the wash-hand basin dates the beginning of the 15th century, the same as the whole array of censers, metal ampoules and jugs mostly coming from baroque and classicism. We can include here also many metal as well as wooden candlesticks, which are not used anymore these days.
    The textile monuments were so far not definitely evaluated from the historical point of view. The oldest ones as well as the most precious vestments from St. James’s Church are in the Museum of the Spiš region. In the chapel of Nativity there are showcases with illustrations of more recent sacral suits. Their artistic value consists in the fact that the decorations are embroidered by hand, often with golden and silver threads. Many of them come from the baroque or the classical period.


Concluding remarks
Back to top

    St. James’s Church is a functioning parish church. It is maintained from the contributions of the believers. Their contributions, gifts and collections also helped to restore almost all the historical monuments in the interior. However, after the II. Vatican Council, they are not all used for sacral purposes. The possessor as well as the users realized that it is a unique and unreproducable evidence of culture and the cultural character of our nation, as well as of all nationalities which have participated in creating and preserving of these historical treasures. We are aware of the fact that these are a part of the European and world culture, the evidence testifying of the contribution of Christianity to the European culture. Every visitor who is sincerely interested in the values of human spirit and work of human hands is welcomed. We will make an effort to give you an unforgettable esthetical experience and thus contribute to the esthetic, moral and cultural education as well as to strengthening of national self-confidence and national pride.
    We expect from the visitors of any confession or also without confession - to respect the sanctity of the temple space. It is like this all over the world, so why not in our country.
    Respecting the rights of the others, mutual esteem and tolerance should after all present the contemporary cultural man.


This is my web-page dedicated to St. James's Church in the town of Levoča.
At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to visit this precious historical monument.
Rudolf Kukura

    Authors | Rules and Prices | Webmaster    
Weather Forecast | Price catalogue in Slovakia

Spiš | Gemer | Liptov | Horehronie | Slovak Paradise | High Tatras | Low Tatras | Belianske Tatras
Pieniny | Spiš Castle | St. James’s Church | castle of Stará Ľubovňa | Krásna Hôrka | AquaCity | Bešeňová | Tatralandia | Vrbov | Vyšné Ružbachy

© All rights reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced, stored in any database, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the authors.
It is only allowed to print the website for your own personal use.