Bratislava, 13th September 2023: The extensive project of the Devín Castle renovation titled Culture Across – Cultural Bridges across the River of Morava started by Bratislava City Museum (BCM) in 2021 has been successfully completed. There were several activities performed within the project. Thanks to their successful implementation, the current Devín Castle site offers better comfort for visitors, better visitor infrastructure, and better accessibility of this attractive site to disabled groups. Professional activities and continuing archaeological research were important parts of the project too. Results of the project co-financed from the Interreg Slovakia – Austria Cooperation Programme were presented at the ceremony held at the Devín Castle on 12 September.
“We are glad that we have successfully completed such an extensive and demanding project with the involvement of internal and external professional, partners, and contractors. I believe that the results of the project will make visitors feeling more comfortable at the Devín Castle and, at the same time, will help them better use the education and adventure potential of the site,” says Zuzana Palicová, Director of BCM. “However, the end of the project Culture Across – Cultural Bridges across the River of Morava does not mean the end of our effort to improve comfort of visitors and attractiveness of the Devín Castle for various target groups. We continue to improve services and accessibility of the castle site and to extend and improve the quality of the programmes for a wide spectrum of visitors,” she added.
What was executed during the project?
A new information/guidance system (IGS) and relaxation zones with visitor architecture
The proposal of the new IGS, which was missing at the Devín Castle until recently, was prepared and implemented by MAPA Architekti and Hungry Studio, winners of the public tender, in cooperation with BCM as the administrator of the castle. “The project consisted of two parts – the first one was dealing with the information/guidance system and the second one with elements of small architecture,” says Patrícia Botková from MAPA Architekti. It was a challenge to find a suitable form of IGS with regard of sensitivity of the Devín Castle environment. “We wanted to find the form as subtle as possible, which would fit in the environment and not disturb it visually, and, at the same time, to get all the required content on the panels,” explains Jakub Lysý from Hungry Studio.
This resulted in a new information/guidance system consisting of more than 26 information and guidance panels installed across the entire castle site. The panels contain texts on various parts of the castle site, their history, and importance, and are provided in Slovak, English, and German languages. Visitors can find the QR codes on the panels to be used for accessing the new website of the Devín Castle, offering, along with practical information in three languages, also the content regarding other interesting facts about the castle, its history, and surroundings. “The intent to extend IGS in the online environment was an important part of the project from its beginning. Thanks to the new website, we are already able to provide more extensive information on the history of the castle site, its surroundings, nature, and archaeological research. And, most of all, we can also amend and update them in the future,” says Milan Zálešák, Head of the BCM Devín Castle Site.
When creating IGS, achieving as inclusive of an environment as possible was a very important aspect. It is a long-term objective of the Bratislava City Museum to make the castle accessible to as broad spectrum of visitors as possible including those living with a certain type of health disability. “We had been discussing suitability of particular elements, their forms, and implementation continuously and actively with the Slovak Blind and Partially Sighted Union (UNSS) and it has proven as a step in the right direction. We could thus adapt particular elements just to the needs of the target group,” explains Viktor Agócs, Head of the BCM Department of Buildings Administration and Monuments Conservation. Particular information panels thus contain descriptions in Braille as well as QR codes to be soon used for clicking on the audio guide throughout the castle site to be found on the new Devín Castle website. We are also preparing installation of a relief map and haptic model of the castle site.
Since relaxation zones and structures casting shadows were missing in the castle too, a part of the project funds was allocated to resolve the visitor architecture. “This resulted in several relaxation zones including two partially roofed wooden pavilions with a nice playful design offering a shadowed area for relaxation and refreshment during castle site visits. At the same time, these areas can be used for various presentations or workshops the Devín Castle is regularly enriched with,” explains M. Zálešák.
Professional works and research were performed within the project too.
The project Culture Across – Cultural Bridges across the River of Morava also included another stage of archaeological research that has been conducted in the Devín Castle site for more than 110 years. This phase of research was conducted by Dominika Ferenčíková Hulková and Peter Barta during 2022 under the supervision of Jaroslava Schmidtová. They had thus continued research performed here by Katarína Harmadyová between 2017 and 2021. In the recently finished stage of research, there are three significant groups of findings among the discovered movable and immovable monuments from the period starting in the 6th millennium BC and ending in the second half of the 2nd millennium AD. They represent cemetery activities in Eneolith (turn of the 4th millennium BC), settlement activities in the late part of the La Téne culture (2nd half of the 1st century BC), and cemetery activities in the Early Middle Ages (end of the 8th to the beginning of the 10th centuries).
“Graves are the most important monument findings dated back to Eneolith (Late Stone Age). They consist of skeleton remains of a male uncovered in November 2021 and another grave finding we have just started to uncover (August 2023),” says Peter Barta, the archaeologist. Furthermore, some other interesting findings were discovered in 2022:
- pile dwelling with foundation trays to be dated in relation to the grave of an adult person,
- pit filled with remains of the aboveground wood-clay structure destroyed by fire to be dated chronometrically (using radiocarbon),
- skeletal grave of an adult person with an iron knife to be dated chronometrically,
- skeletal grave of a child with two vessels,
- evidence of production of the chopped stone tools (small blades, remains of cores, splinters – in their secondary positions) in the castle site from a broad time interval of the early Bronze Age that were not specified in detail,
- plant macroremains extracted from sediments.
The most interesting results of archaeological research conducted between 2021 and 2023 are summarized on the information panels available for visitors in the Exhibition Pavilion in the area of the Lower Castle.
Reconstruction of the Cover Building of the Early Christian Archaeological Findings Cella Memoriae
After the general reconstruction and revitalization of its green roof, Cella memoriae is available for the public again as an exhibition pavilion. During the planting of the green roof, the level 4 natural heritage protection was taken into account and the original species of plants and sempervivum were planted there only. The pavilion situated in the lower part of the castle to the right from the entrance to the castle site is also used for the events such as professional presentations and conferences. For example, an archaeological colloquium took place here in August.
Recovery and Reconstruction of Uncovered Historical Architectures in the Devín Castle Site
Recovery and reconstruction of uncovered historical architectures (castle walls) were conducted in the castle site since the end of July 2022. The maintenance of castle masonry defects which are due to the degradation of cement filling used during the castle reconstruction in the 70s and 80s of the 20th century and statics safety are mainly concerned here. As to their extent and importance, they represent one of the most important conservation projects of the remains of the original castle architectures performed at the Devín Castle for decades. The aim was to preserve the existing valuable historical masonry while applying a well-balanced preservation and finishing approach. The recommended engineering-biological protection of the walls where the masonry coping is protected by a specially mixed substrate combined with planting of the stonecrops was implemented too. The vault bridge connecting the Lower and Middle Castles was reconstructed completely too.
About the project Culture Across – Cultural Bridges through the Morava River.
Within the cross-border project titled Culture Across – Cultural Bridges through the Morava River co-financed from the Interreg Slovakia – Austria Cooperation Programme, the Bratislava City Museum and the municipality of Marchegg cooperate to preserve their cultural heritages and to increase awareness of the general public regarding important cultural monuments on both sides of the border. This fact will contribute to the increase of potential visitors and their attraction to the border region Marchfeld – Transmountain region – Bratislava. During 2022, visitors of the Marchegg Castle could thus see in its reconstructed premises for example Lower Austria Country Exhibition or subscribe to the cross-border conference Palaces in the Field of Moravia. Border Guard Castles – Hunting Lodges – Cultural Tourism held on 15 and 16 September 2022 in the barn of the palace park in Marchegg. It was a hybrid conference which was also transmitted online, and history fans can see its papers in the form of records on the internet.
The total project budged for both partners is EUR 4,170,681.30, out of which EUR 1.41 million is the BCM’s budget and up to EUR 1.34 million of this sum represents a contribution of the EU and Slovak state budget.
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