Churches of Eastern Europe

Matthias-Church-Steeple

14th Century Matthias Church, Budapest, Hungary

Medieval times were probably no picnic, but they sure did have some interesting structures.  As I was walking through churches, buildings and towns with dates from late 800’s (beginning of Prague Castle) to the 14th century, I began looking to why it may have been pleasant to live at these times of hard work, disease and war. The late Middle Ages begins the period of fine building and cultured art. Church design, especially as a result of the rise of Catholicism came into its glory in this period.

The Matthias Church in Budapest was a 14th century Gothic style Roman Catholic church at the heart of Buda’s Castle District. It was also officially named Church of Our Lady. It was not possible to photograph this large church with the lens I had on my camera (I could not get back far enough to even get the height), yet it was truly a remarkable structure.

Matthias-Church-CourtyardWhat one notices, is that these large cathedrals are built in the largest cities. The city cathedrals became a center for pilgrimage for the folks from near and far. The enormous size of these cathedrals meant they could be seen from afar too. The sheer size was also intimidating to reinforce the power and control the Catholic church held.

Church-Interior

The phrase “Middle Ages” typically describes Europe as between the fall of Rome in 476 to the beginning of the Renaissance in the 14th century. During the Middle Ages, two distinct Christian churches formed – the Orthodox Christian Church in the east (where the Pope was not recognized as church leader) and the Roman Catholic Church in the west.

Prague-Town-Square

The primary responsibility of the Orthodox church during this era was to address the spiritual needs of medieval society. Be they village peasants or town folk, the church gave them hope and salvation in turbulent and poverty-stricken times. Tithing was practiced, and could be paid in money or every tenth egg or goat. The church had control on the people and some of it was by fear. Fear was the thought of not going to heaven or failing to pay the tithe, yet the church was what was good in their lives.

In Prague, there was the Baroque, Orthodox St. Nicholas Church in the old town square. While we were there, the church was under construction to make repairs. They also had the famous 1611 Catholic church of  Our Lady of Victory with the statue of baby Jesus. Oddly, a Catholic church with statuary. My friend and I attended this church while services were being performed.

Tyn-Church-4

The above image gallery is from Prague. Below, churches in Hungary and Romania. I have many more images of churches, some smaller yet just as ornate. I think what is most obvious is the opulence of these churches stemming from civic pride and deep faith. Tracery, rose windows, towers, spires and pinnacles all exude reaching for the heavens, the sacrifice of time, talent and treasure to build such a temple to God. I also believe building it to last hundreds of years says something about its dedication to God and faith. After all, something as beautiful cannot be destroyed. In war, churches are saved quite often.

If you ever get to this region, visit the churches and mosques if open to the public. It is quite a moving experience. Some have concerts of organ music, others have parishioners singing in joy. Coming up, see a quick post showing the art decorating the interiors. The frescoes are truly beautiful and very colorful.

Church-Interior-Romania

Please see Nature and Wildlife Pics for some big skyline landscape images of Prague and Budapest. It is a post on photography tips I was giving some newbies on my trip titled, Be Pleased With Your Photos. Also see Cropping an Image – Why? Because I Like It That Way. This was also a post on tips I was giving, but not always heeded.

Advertisements

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
This entry was posted in photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Churches of Eastern Europe

  1. Beautiful, beautiful images, Donna! I remember the churches were highlights of our trips to Italy and the U.K., too. Our churches here in the U.S., for the most part, just can’t compare to the grand old architecture of the European ones. Great post!

    • There are some magnificent cathedrals in the US, but you are right, nothing to that scale or wonder. I think I would like to see them in France, Spain and Italy too. We studied so many in architecture school, it would be an amazing thing to see them in person.

  2. swo8 says:

    It is hard to believe that they possessed the skill and knowledge to build these buildings. They are truly beautiful.
    Leslie

  3. Very nice. When we travel I always love viewing ancient churches and places of worship.

  4. Gorgeous pictures. It’s amazing how ornamental these churches are.

  5. All these lovely photos were taken on you iPad? Phenomenal!!

    • No, none shown here were taken on my iPad, but I should have considered using it to get all the church in the photo. I did use the iPad for an outdoor photo of a huge church in the pouring rain though. I did not want to get the DSLR out in that weather.

  6. diggingher says:

    One of the things that fascinates me is the age of Europe. I mean you can’t find structures of this age in the U.S.. I haven’t yet traveled to this part of the world and appreciate those who have sharing their beautiful photos for enjoyment of all.

  7. The churches were built to be literally awesome, to inspire awe. Why do you say: Oddly, a Catholic church with statuary.? Most Catholic churches have statues.

    • I guess I mentioned it because my friend who is Catholic made mention too. It is because baby Jesus is like an idol that the people pray too. They come believing and asking for help to be cured, wish for goodwill, hoping for a child or just to give thanks. It was brought from Spain and is said to hold miraculous powers. Like those statues of the “bleeding/crying Virgin Mary”. Its spiritual importance exceeds beyond the borders of the Czech Republic too, with people coming the world over. A service was ongoing, so I do not think I have any photos of it. It is really small too at less than 18 inches. It looks like a fanciful doll, not a statue and is made of wax.

  8. johnvic8 says:

    I think you did mighty well with your lonesome lens. Exceptionally beautiful photography.

  9. Lovely! I have not been receiving the emails notifying me of your posts. I thought you were still away and just today decided to check your blog. I must have been bounced.

  10. I adore visiting old churches/cathedrals wherever I am and did so in Ireland and Italy. The oldest in the US is in Santa Fe (San Miguel Church) and it is stunningly simple adobe church built in the early 1600s. I guess I am used to lots of statues in US Catholic churches as all I have visited and attended had many. And I agree to see incredible architecture and art, go visit the cathedrals.

  11. Les says:

    Though no fan of religion, I love sacred architecture. Thanks for sharing this post and all of the others from your tour. I love looking over your shoulder.

  12. A.M.B. says:

    “Medieval times were probably no picnic, but they sure did have some interesting structures. ”

    So true! The architecture is truly amazing, but it’s not enough to make me dream about living during that brutal time period.

Comments are closed.