Architect: KELEMEN Bálint
Conservation of the medieval church ruin and refurbishment of its immediate surroundings have been carried out within the framework of the ROM Vándor (Ruin Rover) program launched by Market Építő Zrt. In addition to the renovation of the ruin, the worthy presentation of its aesthetic and historic values and the preservation of the natural harmony with its surroundings were the aim of the project.
The main facade of the Romanesque style church, built in 1260-1270, had been decorated with an image of Saint Cristopher, patron saint of travellers. The church, which had been built without an apse, but had a sacristy, was destroyed during the Turkish occupation in 1552, and the neighbouring village of Kövesd vanished without trace at about the same time. Minor repairs and some researches had been done at the beginning of the 20th century, then in 1957-1958 a group of students of architecture, led by architect Mihály Zádor, explored, minimally supplemented and conserved the ruin, according to the monument protection principles of that time. There had been no major interventions during the next decades, the church ruin deteriorated severely, the stone walls could be broken down by hand in many places.
A road with crushed stone surface lead to the church ruin, which is surrounded by a grove of trees and natural grass. According to the latest researches, the church has been built partly onto the foundation walls of an ancient Roman building with three apses/cella trichora, part of a large building complex, so its orientation, facing the east, has been adjusted to the ancient building. The archaeological geophysical survey identified the exact location of the onetime cemetery wall and its gate, which had disappeared by now. There is a spring close to the church, with a wellhead built of stone and a paved terrace above it. The water flows on in a shallow ditch with well maintained banks, towards Lake Balaton.
The church ruin retained the outward form it had got in course of the conservation by Zádor. The basic purpose of the new concept of interventions (and also that of the ROM Vándor program) was the technical conservation of the ruin, the preservation of its aesthetic and historic values and its natural harmony with the surrounding landscape. Some small scale, harmonizing contemporary additions (which hopefully will become valuable assets) have also been implemented as well as the presentation of the findings of research by the means of architecture and landscape architecture.
The grove around the church ruin didn’t need major intervention, only the existing conditions had to be improved in relation to usability and aesthetics. Some incongruous built elements had to be removed, a few diseased fruit trees had to be felled and the bare patches in the natural grass surfaces had to be resown. Researches proved that the location of the onetime cemetery wall gate coincides with the natural entrance to the grove, this is where the cars made a U-turn. This location remains the entrance to the site, the area for the cars to turn has been covered with crushed stone. The superstructure of the spring wellhead has been altered: the stone wall around the paved terrace, which could be misleading regarding the neighbouring historic monument, has been transformed into a continuous bench, and the information board about the church has been placed here. Along the outer contour of the onetime medieval cemetery wall, a low wattle fence of woven, thin willow branches marks the boundary between the outer/secular and the internal/sacred parts of the site. The Roman altar stone, placed close to the spring previously, has been returned to the internal/sacred area. The information boards and the wooden bollards are located outside the wall, in the secular area. The posts of the wattle fence follow the line of the underground remains of the cemetery wall with a little distance, so they will not hinder an eventual excavation at a later time and don’t damage any archeological remains.
The church ruin has been conserved and technically repaired based on scientific research. The contemporary additions, besides demonstrating the results of the research, provide the means for withdrawal and contemplation as well, enhancing the continuity of this sacred place. The seat in the sacristy can be used for private meditation. The new candle holders, made of cast stone mixed with basalt chips, provide a neat place for the candles, which were dispersed all over the church previously. A gold colour, powder-coated steel ring, engraved with the Latin inscription ’Sol omnibus lucet’ (the sun shines for everyone), has been inserted in the western window. A similar, but smaller ring has been placed on the front side of the main altar. The reason for the rings is connected to the results of the sun-path analyses, which showed that the ray of sunlight shining through the round window at the time of the spring and autumn equinoxes, falls right on the main altar. The two inserted rings brighten up at the same time on these special days, so a significant element of medieval sacred architecture, the path of light and the importance of its route is reconstructed, it can be experienced and interpreted again. There is a weather-proof visitors’ book, made of stone dust, placed in a recess on the inner side of the northern sacristy wall. The church floor is covered with a layer of crushed basalt, resulting in an orderly image. The dark colour of the stone radiates elegance, its homogeneous appearance integrates the multi-colored stone material of the walls.
Location: Aszófő, outlying area reg.no: 076/2
Architect: KELEMEN Bálint
Structural engineer: VÁCZI Péter
Landscape architect: HAVASSY Gabriella
Client, general contractor: Market Építő Zrt – ROM Vándor program manager: BELECZ Péter, project manager: KRENN Tamás, construction manager: SZABADOSI Tamás
Building history research: RÁCZ Miklós (E.V.)
Restoration expert: SZABÓ Zsófia (E.V.), OSGYÁNYI Vilmos (Reston Kft.), BÁNFI Gábor (E.V.)
Stone masonry test: Dr. TÖRÖK Ákos (BME)
3D spatial scanning, topographic survey: SZAPPANYOS Tibor (Kvalitron Kft.)
Archaeological geophysical survey: Salisbury Kft. and Dr. STIBRÁNYI Máté
Historic monument consultant: ARNÓTH Ádám
Area: church 150 m2, surroundings 1900 m2