30 July 2011

Slovenian Churches

Every region in Europe has its own style of church. In some countries, the religious architecture can change from one valley to the next. What's interesting about Slovenian churches is their relatively uniform style - slender, compact spires and simply designed naves - and their number. There are over two thousand in this little country - on some hillsides, we've spotted as many as four.
There are many small village churches, sometimes at both ends of a hamlet. Interestingly, a large majority of the religious buildings are catholic, and the multitude generally doesn't reflect a denominational divide as much as it does the small size of the buildings. In other countries, larger cathedrals were constructed in many parishes, allowing higher numbers of worshipers in each congregation. Here, there are relatively few big chapels, and new churches were built to meet demand.
This shingle roofed church near Žička kartuzija monastery was impressive for its ornateness. The double cupola is more common in this northeastern region of Štajerska, where there's less of a monolithic culture of catholicism. Here, eastern influences from the rest of the former Yugoslavia and from the northern, Germanic countries have mixed more with the Romance architecture of the mediterranean west.
The further a Slovenian church is into the wilderness, the less likely it will have an ornate steeple roof. The onion shape easily gives way to Italianate, square edged spires. Often, these backwoods buildings are the prettiest and most appealing for their sunworn paint and crumbling, simple facades.
The church of Sv Janeza Krstnika, on the shore of Lake Bohinj, is said to be the most beautiful in Slovenia, with classic stylings and 15th century frescoes covering the interior walls. It's especially striking at dusk, when it's lit up and its reflection becomes almost perfect in the still water.

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