Friday, February 10, 2012

Hradec Králové, Czech Republic

This church is found among the trees in Jirásek park in the centre of the city of Hradec Králové, though it has only been located there for a short part of its eventful history. Originally constructed around 1510 in the small village of Habura in north-eastern Slovakia, the structure was first dedicated to Saint Michael the Archanagel as an Orthodox church. In the year 1740 it was dismantled and moved to the neighbouring village of Malá Poľana where it was rebuilt and dedicated to Saint Nicholas the Miracle-worker.
The village was predominantly Greek-Catholic, and the church served the local parish until the early 20th century. During the First World War the region surrounding Malá Poľana was heavily fought over and the church was severely damaged in the fighting. It was fully reconstructed by 1920, but by 1930 the church had been abandoned and was again in poor condition since it had been replaced by a new church in the village which was built of stone.
In 1934 the villagers were preparing to knock the church down and use its timber for other purposes, but an unexpected offer was made to save the structure. The Czech city of Hradec Králové offered to buy the church for 12000 Czechoslovak crowns, an enormous sum for the villagers at that time. During the summer of 1935 the church was again dismantled and packed onto railway cars for its journey to Hradec Králové. Following reconstruction and extensive renovations in its new location in Jirásek park, the church was inaugurated in the autumn of 1935 as a memorial to Czechoslovak soldiers who had died fighting in World War One. The temple has remained in the park ever since, and today it serves the local Orthodox parish with occasional masses still being held there.
The design of the church is in the typical Greek-Catholic Lemko style, with the tallest of the three onion-dome towers rising above the entrance area. The interior decorations have been carefully preserved, and the original iconostasis can still be seen. The church is also surrounded by a small wooden fence as it was in its former location in Malá Poľana.
Jirásek park is just a few hundred metres from the old town square in Hradec Králové, and the city is well-connected by fast train and bus links to Prague and all other cities of the Czech Republic.

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