Catholic Church of St. Bartholomew
The Church of St. Bartholomew was first mentioned in a document from 1288. There are no records about the original building; it was completely destroyed by the Hussites in 1424. The building of the Late Gothic church was built in 1466. The later look of the church was influenced by Renaissance reconstruction which was completed in 1586 as well as by completion of the tower in 1670 – 1673.
The current building of the church dates back to the 18th century. In the first third of the 18th century, the church was expanded by the aisles, presbytery and sacristy. In 1764 - 1766 the vaults with frescoes were added to the entire surface of the vaults. The Baroque equipment in the church is from the same period.
The artist who created the frescoes was Jan Václav Spitzer. The frescoes in the nave’s severies show the scenes from St. Bartholomew’s life. The frescoes in the aisles’ severies show the motives of the Flight into Egypt and the Birth of John the Baptist.
The main feature of the interior is the painting the Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew on the main altar showing tied up martyr who is being flayed alive. The Jesuit Ignác Raab is most probably the artist who created it. The altarpiece is hung in the open space; the impression of the sky is intensified by the sculptures of the angles that carry the painting. The sculptures of Apostles Peter and Paul and St. Mary Immaculate highlight the symbolism.
Plainer altars are in aisles of the church. One is devoted to the Death of Saint Joseph, second one is dedicated to St. Anne. The youngest altar is dedicated to St. John of Nepomuk. The pulpit and the baptismal font are also richly decorated.
There are six sculptures in the chancel: St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Anne and St. Ludmila, St. Norbert and St. Vojtěch.
The church boasts with fully functioning organ. It dates back to 1714-15. Originally, it was installed in the Benedictine Church in the Old Town of Prague. After closing it down, the organ was bought in 1788 and installed again in the Hrádek’s church. The interesting item in the church is the clock whose one clock face is installed inside above the organ.
There are three bells in the church tower. The oldest one was cast in 1575 and was transported to Hrádek from the church in Vítkov, nearby Chrastava. The bells of St. Bartholomew and Virgin Mary were hung in the tower in 2000. The surroundings are filled with the chiming of the bells three times a day.
The Surroundings of the Church
The gate outside the church is guarded by stone statues of St. Joseph and Archangel Michael acquired by J. T. Schöpfer in 1761. The statues of St. John of Nepomuk and St. John Baptist from 1708 are by the stairs outside the church. The renovated wooden statute of St. Bartholomew looks out of the niche on the tower.
The church estate was used as a cemetery until 1868. In the wall bounding the estate 14 Late Baroque Stations of the Cross are in-built dating back to 1767-1768. There are 12 tombstones among them from 16th – 19th centuries.
On the left hand side of the church entrance, the remains of 97 citizens of Hrádek are housed under the cross; they were excavated from the original graves during the archaeological research in 2010. In neighbouring Kostelní ulice (Kostelní Street) there is marked a grave of vampire Tobiáš whose remains are displayed in the Museum Gateway Trojzemí situated in Horní náměstí (Upper Square).
The building of presbytery with the entrance from Liberecká ulice (Liberecká Street) was completed in 1804.
Eminent People Associated with the Church of St. Bartholomew
An important person for the Church of St. Bartholomew was the priest Joseph Tobias Schöpfer. He worked in the parish in 1755-1768. It was him who greatly contributed to the current look of the church. He was able to get the finances for his ambitious plans of the reconstruction of the church. The most significant donors of the building were the owners of the manor the family Clam-Gallas who contributed with not only building material but also with financial means. However, J. T. Schöpfer also contributed financially.
Hrádek nad Nisou and surrounding villages cannot boast with many famous people who would come from here. Brothers Schwartz from Dolní Sedlo got greater recognition. Franz Schwartz who lived in Dresden gave the church the statues of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary; they are on both sides of the presbytery.
The Preservation of the Church
The Church of St. Bartholomew could have ended like many other church buildings that were not maintained, and as such they do not exist anymore. Fortunately, the progressive reconstruction started in 1972. Firstly, it was important to secure the structure of the building. The frescoes were fully restored at the turn of the 1980s and the 1990s. The altars, statues, pictures, organ and other equipment in the interior were restored and preserved as well. In the beginning of the 21st century, most of the Baroque facilities were restored.
Patron Saint of the Church – St. Bartholomew
St. Bartholomew was one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus. The scene the Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, where the tied up martyr is being flayed, illustrates why St. Bartholomew is considered the patron saint of those who work with leather – tanners, saddlers as well as farmers and butchers.