The Decin Regional Museum has published a new guide to the Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary in Benesov nad Ploucnici (Pruvodce kostelem Narozeni Panny Marie v Benesove nad Ploucnici). Written by Tana Simkova of J.E. Purkyne University in Usti nad Labem, the text takes readers through the individual building elements, artistic ornamentation, and fittings of the church. A foreword by Decin Regional Museum director Vlastimil Pazourek outlines the history of Benesov nad Ploucnici.
"Visitors and locals alike are more familiar with the chateau in Benesov, but they only walk past the church there. But it's a very interesting structure that once even had a defensive function and served as a fortified refuge for the local populace. You can still see remnants of a defensive ditch around the site and there are also keyhole archery slits in the church tower," explains Pazourek.
Other gems and things of interest await visitors inside of the church. The oldest item in the interior is a late Gothic baptismal fountain. A Renaissance pulpit is notable for its ornamentation. But the most compelling area is the crypt of the Knights of Salhausen. Valuable epitaphs and gravestones present portraits of the individual members of the line and one can pick out details of the clothing and weapons carried by Renaissance knights in the 16th and 17th centuries.
"Experts know about the artistic worth of the church decor, but the general public does not. And that's why we want to work with the local church to open the church to those who are interested, locals and visitors alike. On several weekends this summer the church will open its doors to visitors for tours led by museum staff." says the Decin Regional Museum director.
But the publication of the booklet and the opening of the museum is not all. "Under the cross-border Bohemian-Saxon Cultural Overlaps project financed under the Euroregion Elbe Labe we have created not only a printed publication, but also a sort of virtual educational trail around the main landmarks in Benesov nad Ploucnici. To follow the trail and walk in the steps of the Saxon Renaissance, all you need is the smartphone application Loxper," says Pazourek. The app can be downloaded from the Appstore (for iOS) and Google Play (for Android phones), more information is available at www.loxper.com/renesance-benesov.
The printed publication was created with the cooperation of the Center for the Documentation and Digitalization of Cultural Heritage at J.E. Purkyne University in Usti nad Labem, which provided some photographs. Permission to publish the exterior and interior of the Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary in Benesov nad Ploucnici was granted by the office of the Bishop of Litomerice. The booklet will be available in both Czech and German versions at the church and at the Benesov visitor center.
Creation of the printed guide and the virtual tour were financed under the Bohemian-Saxon Cultural Overlaps project EL-0828-CZ-31.05.2021.