St James Church, Levoča

St James Church (Monuments Board of the SR Archives, photo by Peter Fratrič)
Kostol sv. Jakuba, Levoča
Contact: Roman Catholic Parish of Levoča
Námestie Majstra Pavla 53, 054 01 Levoča, Slovakia
421 (0) 53 451 2347, 421 (0) 907 521673
10am-5pm daily except during church services

St James Church (Monuments Board of the SR Archives, photo by Peter Fratrič)

St James Roman Catholic Church in Levoča is one of the most important sacred buildings in Slovakia. The church with its architecture and interiors represents a unique set of art historical and architectural monuments, chiefly from the 15th to 17th centuries.

The original three-nave Gothic church was built during the 14th century on the site of an older church. The Gothic St George Chapel was added in 1392. After a fire in the first half of the 19th century, a neo-Gothic tower was erected in the west section of the church.

Of particular importance is the interior of the church, which is in fact a unique museum of medieval sacral art.

The Late Gothic main altar of St James, at a height of 18.6 metres, is the tallest of its kind in the world. Made of lime wood in 1507-1517 in the workshop of Master Pavol of Levoča, the carving, by the Master himself, is of extraordinary high artistic value, whilst the board paintings are attributed to the painter Hans. Part of them is based in the patterns of the wood carvings of Lucas Cranach.

Beside the unique main altar, the Vir Dolorum altar deserves attention, as well as the baptistry and the pastoforium from the older interior parts of the temple. The murals with cycles from the 14th and 15th centuries are unique examples of religious depiction of the time.

There are another thirteen lateral altars in the church, eight Late Gothic, two Renaissance and three Baroque ones. The collection of Gothic liturgical objects and a Baroque monstrance by the Levoča goldsmith Ján Szilassy are also of immense value.