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Slovenia's Javorca Church receives European Heritage Label

Tolmin, 5 December - A church near the town of Tolmin commemorating the fallen soldiers of the WWI Isonzo Front has been selected to receive the European Heritage Label ahead of the launch of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 at the European Culture Forum in Milan.

Zatolmin
The Church of the Holy Spirit commemorating the fallen soldiers of the WWI Isonzo Front.
File photo: Robert Hrovat/STA

The Memorial Church of the Holy Spirit atop the 571-metre Javorca hill in the north-west is Slovenia's second item on the list after the clandestine WWII hospital museum Franja won the label in 2015.

Javorca Church is one of the nine new European sites that have been selected for the label now for "celebrating or symbolising the fight for European ideals, values, history and integration".

The other sites are Leipzig's Musical Heritage Sites in Germany, the Dohany Street Synagogue Complex in Hungary, Italy's Fort Cadine, the former Natzweiler concentration camp and its satellite camps in France and Germany, the Sighet Memorial in Romania, the Bois du Cazier in Belgium, the Village of Schengen in Luxembourg and the Maastricht Treaty.

"The European Union is built on the values of peace, freedom, tolerance and solidarity. These values must not be taken for granted; we have to work for them every day. All the sites on the European Heritage Label list promote these values and remind us of all those who fought to establish and preserve them," Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics said.

The nine sites will be added to the list of 29 sites during the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018.

The new sites were selected by an independent panel set up by the European Commission from 25 candidates preselected by participating member states.

The Commission will formally designate the sites in February 2018, and an award ceremony will be held in March 2018.

Javorca Church was recognized as a cultural heritage site of national importance in 1999, only to be included in the European Cultural Heritage list of monuments eight years later.

The church seen as a symbol of peace was built after Austro-Hungarian soldiers collected voluntary contributions in 1916 to build a church in memory of their fallen comrades near Isonzo Front battlefields.

Viennese architect Remigius Geyling (1878-1974) made the plans for the church, while the construction was directed by Hungarian Geza Jablonsky. Both were lieutenants of the Austro-Hungarian army.

The church's facade is adorned with the coats of arms of the former empire's provinces. A white Vienna-Secession-style altar made of wood by carpenter Anton Perathoner stands in the interior of the church.

Wooden boards symbolising the pages of a memorial book hang on the side-walls. The names of more than 2,800 killed soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian army were burnt into them.

Tolmin Mayor Uroš Brežan expressed satisfaction that the nomination, which was submitted in cooperation with the Culture Ministry and the Museum of Tolmin, was successful.

"We always believed that the story of this church conveyed a message that was deeply European and universal at the same time," said the mayor.

Tolmin Museum Director Damjana Fortunat Černilogar said she was very happy with the news although a little surprised because she did not expect the decision to be known yet.

The church was visited by some 6,500 people last year when it celebrated its centenary, while this year more than 7,000 people visited it, mostly foreigners, Černilogar told the STA. She attributes the rise to an exhibition marking the centenary that the Tolmin museum presented also in Austria's Viena and Italy's Gorizia.

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© STA, 2017