Kostel sv Martina/St Martin’s Church, Markvartice

Kostel sv Martina/St Martin’s Church, Markvartice © Ricky Yates

Today saw the reconsecration of Kostel sv Martina/St Martin’s Church in the nearby village of Markvartice. For the somewhat irreligious Czech Republic, renovating an abandoned Church building and bringing it back into liturgical use, is quite an event.

Whilst there has been a Church on the current site since the thirteenth century, the building in its present baroque appearance, dates from a rebuilding between 1701-04. It started falling into disrepair following the end of the Second World War, a result of the expulsion of the majority Sudetendeutsche population in 1945-6 and the communist takeover of power in Czechoslovakia, shortly afterwards.

The Church was last used for liturgical worship in 1966. By the late 1980s, all that was left standing were the perimeter walls – all of the roof had collapsed. Apparently, in 1989, the communist authorities issued an order for the demolition of the building, but fortunately, the Velvet Revolution took place before the order could be carried out.

Work to restore the Church began fifteen years ago, in 2002. Whilst funds to carry out the restoration have been raised locally, considerable finance has come from various German Roman Catholic dioceses. There has also been financial support from the regional government and from the Czech Ministry of Culture. This governmental support whilst welcome, is more about preserving what is seen as the country’s cultural and architectural heritage, rather than directly supporting the Roman Catholic Church.

Markvartice is about eight kilometres by road from Stará Oleška. Earlier this week, after I first read about today’s reconsecration, I drove across there to visit the Church. Last minute work to get everything ready for today’s celebrations, was taking place, but I was able to explore and take the photographs that follow.

Interior of Kostel sv Martina/St Martin’s Church © Ricky Yates

As you can see, the very baroque interior has been completely restored to a very high standard and a modern forward altar and lectern installed. One rather ‘interesting’ feature is the coloured light under the front of the new altar. It changes between the different liturgical colours, avoiding the need for different coloured altar frontals 🙂

Inscription over chancel arch © Ricky Yates

The inscription above the chancel arch clearly reflects the fact that German was the language of the majority population at the beginning of the eighteenth century until 1945.

Elaborate pulpit © Ricky Yates

A rather elaborate pulpit from which to preach 🙂

Kostel sv Martina/St Martin’s Church, Markvartice © Ricky Yates

The churchyard on the north side of the Church, has been almost completely cleared with the damaged remains of memorials, moved and placed alongside the boundary wall.

John 14. 6 in German & Czech © Ricky Yates

However, this memorial, with its bilingual inscription underneath a large cross, has been renovated and preserved. It is also an example of how much longer it takes to say something in German than in most other languages 🙂

Statue of the Virgin Mary being carried in procession © Ricky Yates

Today’s celebrations began with this statue of the Virgin Mary being carried in procession through the village. The procession started at the railway station, located at the southern end of the village, and proceeded to the Church, located at the northern end.

Procession © Ricky Yates

At the head of the procession, along with a processional cross and four banners, was a small brass band who I’m almost certain had travelled from Germany. There was quite a German presence with many German registered cars parked in the various temporary car parks that had been set up.

Bilingual sign © Ricky Yates

Hence this bilingual sign! There were also coaches which had brought people from elsewhere in the Czech Republic, particularly from Moravia which is the more Roman Catholic end of the country. Therefore whilst the Church was packed for the 11.00 mass of reconsecration, I do wonder how well attended it will be by local people, Sunday by Sunday, once all the visitors have left.

Making progress

Yesterday, I made major progress in bringing order to the garden and outbuildings of my new home. In less than an hour, Jan with his van, assisted by a friend, removed a whole load of items left behind by the previous elderly owners, all of which were of no use to me. I hope the ‘before and after’ photographs which follow, will illustrate the progress that has been made.

Circular saw with ‘rain cover’ © Ricky Yates

Just under two weeks after moving to my new home in Stará Oleška, I wrote a post entitled, ‘Plenty to keep me occupied‘. In that post, I pointed out this ancient electrically driven circular saw for cutting logs, sitting in the middle of the back garden and wondered how on earth I would get it removed. . . . → Read More: Making progress

1930s border fortifications

Concrete bunker near Srbská Kamenice © Ricky Yates

In the area a few kilometres north of my home in Stará Oleška, are a whole series of border fortifications, which date from period 1935–1938. They were built in response to the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, as I explained in greater detail over four years ago, in a post about similar fortifications in the Orlické hory.

Soon after Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, he started making demands for the incorporation of German minorities into a ‘Greater Germany’, in particular the Sudetendeutsche residing in Sudetenland – that part of Czechoslovakia containing a majority ethnic German population. This alarmed the Czechoslovak government who began to make defensive plans to counteract any future Nazi invasion attempt. These concrete bunkers are the result of those . . . → Read More: 1930s border fortifications

Some aspects of village life in Stará Oleška

Bus 436 for Decín hl.n. © Ricky Yates

I promised back in May that, having moved from Prague to Stará Oleška, I would now write and reflect on my new life in North Bohemia. So here is a post about some of the practical aspects of village life, often in stark contrast to my experience during the previous eight and a half years of living in Prague.

Public transport

Stará Oleška lies on the 436 bus route which provides a service from the village, into the centre of Decín, terminating at the main railway station – Decín hl.n. In the opposite direction, it is possible to travel further into the hills to Jetrichovice and occasionally slightly further, to . . . → Read More: Some aspects of village life in Stará Oleška

A walk from Jetrichovice to Srbská Kamenice

The path into the forest © Ricky Yates



A few weeks ago, I took the bus northwards from Stará Oleška, through Srbská Kamenice, to the southern edge of Jetrichovice. From there, I made my way back to Srbská Kamenice, first following the blue and then the green waymarked routes.


The blue waymarked route leaves the road on the left, shortly after the bus stop, where the road goes to the right, zigzagging down to the centre of Jetrichovice. Initially it follows a gravel track which gives vehicular access to several houses, before becoming a footpath, heading into the forest.






Wayside shrine or Calvary © Ricky Yates

After about one and a half kilometres, there is this wayside shrine or Calvary. . . . → Read More: A walk from Jetrichovice to Srbská Kamenice