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Maribor, Minorite Church

Avtor: Alenka Zupan, Thursday 21.07.2016

The church through time

The Church of St. Mary’s Assumption stands together with the former Minorite monastery on the banks of the River Drava in the oldest part of Maribor called Lent. It was renovated in 2014 and 2015 and has since been open to the public as a new cultural venue. The Ljubljana architectural firm ATELIER was entrusted with the planning of the renovation and was headed by expert Prof. Jurij Kobe. The renovation and adaptation of the church into a place to hold events took place under the supervision and in collaboration with the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, Maribor Regional Unit, whereby the specialist restoration work was done by the Restoration Centre in Ljubljana. The renovation was enabled in part by EU funds and the Municipality of Maribor.

Preliminary archaeological surveys revealed that the church had been constructed as far back as the 12th century on a site that had rich settlement continuity from prehistoric and Roman times. The original single-nave church with a rectangular eastern presbytery was built in a Romanesque style and was probably the first parish church in Maribor. After the Minorites came to Maribor around 1250, the church and the monastery were extensively rebuilt. The long Gothic choir extension was one of the largest in Styria. The changes to make it Gothic also extended the church on the western side. During the renovation, many important remains were discovered from this period which stylistically match the construction production in Styria in the second half of the 13th century. The latter is testament to the size and exceptional cultural value of the church, especially the high artistic aspirations that culminated in the monumentally long choir (the foundations are presented in situ), the remains of the choir screen, and particularly in the lower part of the majestic main portal (unfortunately only this part remains) with a rich dynamic wall and dividing pillar. In 1710, the Gothic choir was pulled down and the church was remade entirely in a Baroque style, oriented towards the west, and a tall bell tower was erected and given a Baroque appearance with painted pilasters on the façade and new vaulted ceilings in the interior. Around 1770, the church was further decorated with a pilastered late-Baroque main façade as well as stuccowork and painting in the presbytery. During the Josephine reforms in 1784, the church and monastery were taken away from the Minorite order and were set aside for military use. They took down the church bell tower and divided the inner area in half by making an additional storey that served as a military storage facility. The church has been left abandoned for the past three decades.

Renovation 2014–2015

The renovation concept was based on a respect for all the rebuilds that has taken place and the last high-quality redesign. With the comprehensive renovation we carried out on the sacred building, we gave it its original late Baroque appearance, while also highlighting some of the important discoveries of previous construction phases. It is worth pointing out that the renovation designer was able to combine its rich history and the newer elements into a harmonious whole.

Archaeological excavation

Archaeological excavation created an additional storey below the floor of the church nave, which we, after some consideration, decided not to refill. It is now a place were the visitors can observe in situ both crypts and the individual phases of the building’s development from the 12th century to the time it was used as a military storage facility.


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