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Rotunda of St. George

jurko_03.jpgThe Rotunda of St. George, which the locals have nicknamed Jurko, is located on a rocky outcropping on the south eastern slope of Marhát Mountain in the Považský Inovec forest. This plain and small church stands on a very old and historic route that once connected Ponitria to Považie and Moravia and has long escaped attention from historians and the public.

More in-depth discovery of its secrets was started in 1973 with historical landmark research, followed in 1974 by archaeological research inside the church and its grounds. The results determined that the rotunda was constructed on older foundations dating back to Great Moravia and the second half of the 11th century at the latest.

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In spite of this tremendous discovery, archaeological work did not continue. The results of this work were built upon by restoration research on the rotunda completed in 2009, which uncovered even more of the rich history of this Slovak treasure. The restoration work discovered a window opening on the south-western side of the main chamber, and the pre-Romantic shape of this opening pushed the origins of the Rotunda of St. George even earlier, into the 9th century. Such dating was also confirmed with the discovery of consecration crosses in the oldest layer of plaster, one of which was nearly preserved in its entirety. Its shape is that of a Latin cross as opposed to the younger straight lined types of consecration crosses as we know them from the Romantic or Gothic styles.

Based on the information wehave available today, we can say that the Church of St. George near Nitrianska Blatnica is the oldest standing rotunda with nearly completely preservedmasonry walls in Slovakia and in central Europe as a whole.  It also gives the site a unique historical and cultural value and is among our most precious national sacral cultural landmarks.

Despite its age, Jurko is also known for a tradition of organizing pilgrimages, which stretches back into the 16th century. People from far and wide have come on an annual basis for five hundred years to gather on the Sunday closest to the feast of St. George in order to celebrate mass served in the area around the rotunda. This ancient tradition has made Nitrianska Blatnica one of the oldest pilgrimage sites in Slovakia.

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