Hundreds-year-old crypts have been found under a church in Szeged. The Franciscan monks were still aware of the location of the ancient hatches. Archaeologists from the Móra Ferenc Museum in Szeged published the discovery on the archaeology department’s Facebook page.
The tombs that were hidden under the St Nicholas Parish Church in the upper town were built in the 1700s, according to archaeologists from the Móra Ferenc Museum in Szeged. In December 2022, the archaeology department of the museum had the opportunity to descend into a forgotten lower church full of crypts.
The Baroque-style parish church of St. Nicholas in the upper town of Szeged, built between 1754 and 1767, was scheduled for renovation in 2011. The lower church was permanently closed after the Great Flood of 1879, when the devastating natural disaster hit Szeged on the night of 12 March. For three months, almost the whole of Szeged was underwater, destroying almost all the buildings.
The existence of the lower church was confirmed by a crack in the floor of the church in the 2000s. According to field surveys, 63 built-in tombs were found in the lower church, which had been closed for more than 130 years at the time, 39 of which were found to be undisturbed. Some of them showed readable inscriptions, with the earliest legible date being 1751, the latest date prior to the flood.
According to templomfelujitas.blogspot.com, the accessible part of the altar does not extend under the sanctuary but, according to the monks’ memories, one of the hatches was behind the altar, which had a doorway under the stairs in the side wing (now unused confession room). It seemed possible that other sealed tracts might still be hidden under the church. However, renovation works were eventually called off in 2012, along with further exploration.
Thanks to the support of the church, a research permit was requested to assess the condition of the crypts. In September 2022, an archaeological team with their equipment and experts – consisting of archaeologists, anthropologists, a restaurateur and a geodesist – descended to the lower church.
The archaeologists of the Móra Ferenc Museum made a similar discovery in 2021 when they found the medieval core of the city of Szeged during an excavation in the city centre. They also discovered an extremely well-preserved wooden pile and entrenchments, which could have been a fortification built in the Middle Ages. The excavation area yielded artifacts from the Árpád period up to the 20th century, and building remains, dating back to the 17th to 18th century with surrounding working pits.
Source: moramuzeum.hu, templomfelujitas.blogspot.com