The THETRIS Transnational Church Route connects eleven church routes from different Central-European regions from eight countries, namely the Szatmár Region in Hungary, the Prešov Region in the Slovak Republic, the Šluknov Region and the
Bohemian Switzerland Region in the Czech Republic, the Małopolska Region in Poland, the Piedmont and the Veneto Regions in Italy, the Meissen District in Germany, the Styria Region in Austria and the Goriška and the Gorenjska Regions in Slovenia.
The Transnational Church Route brings about greater recognisability and valorisation of sacral cultural heritage, which boasts remarkable variety as a result of the rich history of Central Europe. The preserved sacral cultural heritage bears witness to crucial historical events, long-term historical structures and different religious denominations which marked the church history and turbulent past of our continent. It also testifies to the artists, patrons and spiritual shepherds who, in their mission, went beyond the regions’ and countries’ borders, the intertwining and acquisition of art-historical styles and religious practices and the pilgrimage as a way of learning about the neighbouring and far-away countries and their inhabitants, etc. All in all, it bears testimony to various features which have connected European people and nations, regions and countries for many centuries.
An important element which connects these sacral monuments is their location, as they are often situated in the picturesque and well-preserved natural environment, in some cases even in national natural parks. Some churches were built at the then-important roads which pilgrims, merchants and other people travelled on, at important strategic locations or at places where miracles and apparitions are believed to have occurred.
The THETRIS Transnational Church Route indicates the noteworthy character of the rich European history and the variety of its cultural heritage as the included churches differ greatly from one another in many aspects, for example the aspects of art-historical and architectural styles, building material, the period of their origin, denominations, etc.
The Transnational Church Route includes parish, pilgrimage and cemetery churches as well as sacral monuments within monasteries, castles and fortified encampments where the inhabitants of the area fled during plundering raids and military invasions in the modern period.
The sacral monuments included in the THETRIS Transnational Church Route differ according to the denominations they belong to. Most of them belong to the Roman Catholic Church. There are also some monuments of the Lutheran Church in the Meissen District in Germany and the Szatmár Region in Hungary and some monuments of the Reformed and the Greek-Catholic Churches in Hungary.
Some sacral monuments boast monumentality, special architecture style which marked the cultural heritage of the area and art-historical uniqueness. Some churches are listed as UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites. Nonetheless, all the churches included in the Route are significant works of art which often harbour precious sculptures, paintings, glassware and other craftwork or other important material remains, such as famous relics. The Route includes small shrines as well as magnificent basilicas and monastery complexes. In the Middle Ages, the silence of monastery scriptoria harboured erudition and literacy, which left significant manuscripts for the centuries to come.
Some churches stand out for their ancient character, rich pilgrimage tradition which goes all the way back to the early mediaeval period, and their integration into historical events and processes which marked European history. Sacral monuments bear witness to important people of European history, such as famous artists, devoted priests, monks, saints and popes, emperors, kings and members of important noble families and monastic orders, and to artists and spiritual shepherds whose names are not known but who left a significant mark in the preserved sacral cultural heritage. Likewise, many believers and pilgrims have visited and financially and physically helped build and maintain the mentioned sacral monuments up to date, so that today’s generations can cherish them as the heritage of the past which should be respected, protected and preserved for the generations to come.
The churches pride themselves also on intangible heritage, for example ancient tradition of church songs, music composing and nativity scenes or rich tradition of legends about miraculous salvation and healing, saints’ apparitions, unusual natural phenomena, etc.
The variety of the churches of the THETRIS Transnational Church Route bears witness to the rich cultural heritage of Central Europe and enables the visitor of the Route or regional church routes to learn about various aspects of the heritage.