On Thursday, August 27, 2020, a several-month activity of members of the Gothic Route association and employees of the OOCR Gemer (Regional Tourism Organization Gemer) culminated in Rožňava, with the signing of a memorandum of common procedure for nominating “Medieval murals in Gemer and Malohont” for the European Heritage label.
The memorandum was signed by Ján Lunter, chairman of the Banská Bystrica Self-Governing Region, Rastislav Trnka, chairman of the Košice Self-Governing Region, Miroslav Boldiš, chairman of the association Gothic Route, Janka Miháliková, parish priest, and Eva Pačmárová, church supervizor of the church congregation of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, and the chairman of the OOCR Gemer (Regional Tourism Organization Gemer), mayor of Rožňava, Michal Dominik. Together, they pledged to support the nomination of frescoes in the churches of the Gothic Route in Gemer-Malohont region to the European Heritage Label. It is allocated by the European Commission to sites in the European Union with a key role in European history and culture. Since 2013, it has been acquired by 48 locations in Europe, but not yet in Slovakia.
The nomination concerns frescoes in a total of 12 medieval churches of Gemer-Malohont: frescoes in 4 churches of the Štítnik circuit: Štítnik, Ochtiná, Koceľovce, Plešivec, frescoes in 4 churches of the Jelšava circuit: Chyžné, Kameňany, Rákoš, Šivetice and frescoes in 4 churches of the Rimava circuit: Kraskovo, Kyjatice, Rimavská Baňa and Rimavské Brezovo.
These 12 sites were selected on the basis of their frescoes, which are their common feature. The preservation of medieval frescoes of such high quality, and in such a large concentration in a relatively small area, as in Gemer-Malohont, is unique not only in Slovak conditions. Gemer frescoes are an excellent example of foreign contacts and cultural exchange within Europe, when local Hungarian aristocrats, inspired by what they saw in Italy invited Italian masters to come to paint walls of local churches.
The European Heritage Label is conditional on the approval of a nomination at national level, which will be formally submitted by the end of November 2020. The proposal will then be decided by a group of independent experts in 2021, composed of 13 members appointed by the European Parliament, Council, Commission and Committee of the Regions.
We believe that the jury will be intrigued by the proposal, and that the medieval churches on Gemer will be included among the cultural sites of European significance. A successful nomination would be another step to raise awareness of the Gothic Route and of the monuments in Gemer, and to confirm their quality and uniqueness, what could increase the attractivity of the region and attract tourists, both from Slovakia and abroad.