Vinično, Kneginec, Črešnjevo

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Monday, July 13

Our (again Danko, Vjeko and myself) last field trip for the 2008-2009 season. We met Ivana and Vesna (i.e., Ivana Peškan and Vesna Pascuttini Juraga, associates of the Varaždin Preservation of Monuments office) to mop up what still remained of the earlier medieval stuff on their territory. We have been doing their county with them for almost two years, to everybody’s greatest pleasure and profit. They are incredibly efficient, learned and supportive young colleagues. I hope they go vary far.

We met at Breznički Hum (there was also Mr. Anđelko Stričak there, former head of the Visoko Community, and a true old stuff buff). We went to Vinično, where there is a cutest imaginable Romanesque church, rectangular nave ca. 1 X 2 (needs proper measuring) with a semicircular apse, a darling chubby tower, and a sacristy to the north. The tower is a later addition in spite of the fine tiny Gothic window on its western façade. On the second story of the tower one can see a rounded opening on the original façade wall. It is a very damaged but once very fine eight lobe rose. Possibly the Gothic window was also a participant in that façade. The corners of the nave are marked by finely polished quoins, which look more Gothic than Romanesque (but I am far from sure). Remarkably enough one of the pieces carries a re-cut ornament which looks like a rope, but it may be even a piece of Pre-Romanesque ornament (although I doubt it). Anyhow, the finely polished quoins seem to be spoliae from an earlier building. The girls had been snooping around the church (which stands on a small hillock once obviously surrounded by the Lonja marshland and water) and on a hill above the church, they found a lot of 12-14th ct. pottery. Than they talked to the natives and were told that there used to be a monastery of the “White Friars” up here. It just happens that there is vague information on a Teutonic knights’ domus somewhere on the Lonja, never confirmed, never located. Well, what do you think? Vinično will have to be thoroughly investigated.

Mr. Stričak then took us to Visoko (we have been there many times, the church is being restored and guess what, the Romanesque church is emerging!), to see a newly identified sedilia which Vesna thinks is very much like the one in the famous Templar church at Gora. Surprisingly enough, the church was locked so we left the sedilia for another visit, and went to Čanjevo, where Mr. Stričak has done a wonderful job having an old fort excavated.

By the way, that western Kalnik area is, just like the rest of the Kalnik, one of the most beautiful and best preserved pieces of land in Croatia. The villages, both wood and stone, hugging the tops of the hills and high flanks, have a distinctly medieval flavor, and the Varaždin office is doing what it could to make records and slow down the destruction and change. Čanjevo overlooks that area of Visoko from a mountain offshoot, a very typical early medieval position – narrow offshoot with a moat, and then a castle consisting of a triangular forecourt, and the rounded hill, all separated by moats. Čanjevo served in the 16th and 17th ct. as a refuge for the population during Turkish raids, and its Renaissance fortifications have been neatly excavated and presented. They wrap around the hilltop underneath some other walls which may be earlier, presumably 15th ct. Unfortunately, the very peak, where I would expect a very early turmburg, had been devastated, so we may never find it.

Čanjevo is also a well-known prehistoric site (Vučedol culture!), and it was probably a sacred spot as it neatly communicates with the Medvednica, the Kalnik heights, and the Central Slavonian mountains (100 km away). It also has an eye to eye contact with the tower in Visoko and many other sub-Kalnik villages.

A fine example of what a local community could do to protect and advertise its past.

While sipping cold mineral water at an inn in Visoko, the girls showed us the fragment recently taken down from the wall of the church in Gornji Kneginec near Varaždin, and now kept in their Office (to be replaced by a copy). What a wonderful, and very rare example of powerful mid-12th ct. Romanesque relief. It is a face done in bold strokes, with powerful bulging eyes, a chin like a protruding sphere, and a strong nose in the middle. Now that it has been taken down we can see that the circle around the head is not an aureole, but probably a helmet. It was inscribed within some triangular gable. The girls think it may be a part of a choir-screen… Striking similarity (any direct links excluded) with a ca. 1150 face from St. Prokop at Zabori nad Labem in Bohemia.

I have a hunch that the nave at Kneginec hides a section of a Romanesque church, and a high quality one. It was a fort of distinction as King Andrew was kept prisoner there at the beginning of the 13th ct., by his brother, King Emerik. A fortification tower (though much later, 15-16th ct.) still stands. As the name means Counts or Countess’s place, one wonders who the earliest Slavic inhabitants of the fort were.

Above Kneginec, next to a nice 19th ct. mansion on a hill (succeeding a wooden manor used by the city council of Varaždin!) there is Trem. We spoke above about the meaning of the word. The hill is a good position for a Trem (a big blocknau, a kreml), and it overlooks both the Varaždin plain and beyond, has en aye to eye contact with the church at Kneginec, and with the Ivanščica mountain. It will compete as we continue our research for the seat of the first Župan of Varaždin with its namesake at Jakopovec.

Then we went to Črešnjevo, the westernmost strategic point above the Varaždin plain and in control of the old road to Zagreb. The village is on the slopes of a long (ca. 1km) sharp ridge with three elevations. The easternmost bears the mansion of Šaulovec (must have succeeded a medieval fort), the central highest one, nicely rounded, remains a mystery, whereas there is a brand new chapel on the westernmost steep and rounded hill with a cemetery. Underneath the chapels there are, as one can gather from 17th ct. notes, remains of a Romanesque rotunda. Again, stunning view of the plain, the Ivanščica, etc. Ivana and Vesna have promised a study with a reconstruction of the rounded chapel by the fall. This is another truly exciting spot.

Finally we went to Ivanec where Jura Belaj is continuing his excavations. Now he has found a bunch of very nice Romanesque fragments within the wall of the Romanesque church he has been excavating. So we seem to have an earlier and a later Romanesque phase. Fragments are of surprising quality, some show a fine, flat volute-spiral such as I recall from around Esztergom and the Royal Domain (late 12th-early 13th ct., e.g. Pilisszentkerszt).

Unfortunately we could not stay long with Jura, Marijana, the kids and the team, as I had to rush to Zagreb to catch a bus to Rijeka for a Faculty Council on Tuesday morning.

Yepeee! Monday was the first it did not rain in 26 days!

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