Restoration of the Medieval Church of Sóly

The restoration of the medieval church of Sóly was finally completed after two decades of research and renovation. The village of Sóly is located near Veszprém and its church was first mentioned in 1009, in the foundation charter of the bishopric of Veszprém, issued by King Saint Stephen. There is a theory that Sóly is the location where the young Stephen defeated Koppány in 997, three years before his coronation. The present church, however, dates from the 13th century and was dedicated to St. Stephen Protomartyr. Archeological research identified the traces of an earlier, wooden church under the present edifice. The 13th-century building consists of a simple one-aisled nave and a rectangular sanctuary. The place was turned into a fortress at the time of the Ottoman occupation. From this period, a number of burials have been found inside the building. The damaged building was finally restored in 1706 and was embellished several times. By this time, the community and their church were Calvinist. Rich painted ornamental frames decorate the windows, embellished with biblical verses. In 1724, a painted wooden gallery was installed in the nave, and the church was adorned with painted coffered ceilings as well. As these elements were purchased and installed by the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest during the 1890s, they were now recreated in the form of copies. The original wooden balustrade in the sanctuary of the church, however, was at this occasion returned to the church. The western tower of the church was built in 1903.

Inside the nave of the church, a medieval fresco of the Crucifixion was uncovered in 2018. The stylistic features of this painting and the Cosmatesque border decoration around it indicate that it was painted in the 14th century. Possibly it was part of a larger cycle – but no other paintings have been found in the church. The newly restored church was ceremoniously opened on March 20, 2022. Contact the pastor to visit.
Crucifixion fresco in the nave

Here is a small video of the restored church.

Angelia S. Rico

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