St. Mary's Church

Gdańsk, Poland

St. Mary's Church (Bazylika Mariacka) is the largest brick church in the world. According to tradition, as early as 1243 a wooden Church of the Assumption existed at this site, built by Prince Swantopolk II. The foundation stone for the new brick church was placed on on 25 March 1343. At first a six-span bay basilica with a low turret was built, erected from 1343 to 1360. Parts of the pillars and lower levels of the turret have been preserved from this building.

In 1379 the masonry master Heinrich Ungeradin led his team to start construction of the present church. St. Mary's Church in Lübeck, the mother of all Brick Gothic churches dedicated to St. Mary in Hanseatic cities around the Baltic, is believed to be the archetype of the building. By 1447 the eastern part of the church was finished, and the tower was raised by two floors in the years 1452-1466. Since 1485 the work was continued by Hans Brandt, who supervised the erection of the main nave core. The structure was finally finished after 1496 under Heinrich Haetzl, who supervised the construction of the vaulting.

After the Reformation in 1529 the first Lutheran worship was held in St. Mary's. After 1557 King Sigismund II Augustus had granted Danzig the religion privilege allowing to celebrate the communion under both kinds the city council ended Catholic masses in all other parish churches in the city and those in its countryside territory, except of in St. Mary's. Here Catholic Masses at the high altar were continued until the city council stopped them in 1572.

In the course of the Partitions of Poland the city lost its liberty in 1793 and The Prussian government integrated St. Mary's and all the Lutheran state church into the all-Prussian Lutheran church administration.

Between 1920 and 1940 St. Mary's became the principal church within the Protestant Regional Synodal Federation of the Free City of Danzig. Starting in 1942 more or less movable major items of Danzig's cultural heritage have been dismantled and demounted in coordination with the cultural heritage curator. So also the presbytery of St. Mary's church agreed to remove items like archive files and artworks such as altars, paintings, epitaphs, mobile furnishings to places outside the city.

The church was severely damaged in World War II, during the storming of Danzig city by the Red Army in March 1945. After the basic reconstruction was finished, the church was reconsecrated in 1955. The reconstruction and renovation of the interior is an ongoing effort and continues to this day.

St. Mary's Church is a triple-aisled hall church with a triple-aisled transept. Both the transept and the main nave are of similar width and height, which is a good example of late Gothic style. Certain irregularities in the form of the northern arm of the transept are remnants of the previous church situated on the very same spot. The vaulting is a true piece of art, and was in great part restored after the war. The exterior is dominated by plain brick plains and high and narrow Gothic arch windows.

The interior of St. Mary's church is decorated within with several masterpieces of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque painting. The most notable, The Last Judgement by Flemish painter Hans Memling, is currently preserved in the National Museum of Gdańsk. Other works of art were transferred to the National Museum in Warsaw in 1945. It wasn't until 1990s when several of them were returned to the church.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1343
Category: Religious sites in Poland

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Allen Lin (6 months ago)
The outside of this basilica is easily forgettable but the inside was bette than most. Lots of good art inside and it really has a lot going on inside. It is nice that there is no entrance fee. It is also quite big compared to other basilicas and churches and stuff and worth spending some time to take a look
Karthik (6 months ago)
Very big spacious church with superb interiors, it's ceilings are huge and marvelous. They have a old gregorian calendar engraved in wall with description about how it was used in old days. It also has other artifacts which describes significance of few other important places for Jesus. Must visit church when in Gdansk.
Marcin Szyniszewski (6 months ago)
Very beautiful cathedral, one of the biggest I've seen! Inside you will find an interesting astronomical clock, a beautiful altar and lots of smaller shrines with historical altars and figures. Would highly recommend visiting if you're in Gdańsk.
Garrett Fagnou (6 months ago)
Truly astonishing to walk through the vast hall of this beautiful church. The interior is mostly whitewashed brick, but the sheer size will leave you breathless. It's one of the largest brick churches in the world and you really feel it when your there. Take a walk up the 405 steps to the top of the bell tower to get a great view of the city.
Lindsey Boyd (8 months ago)
Worth getting there to see the astronomical clock chime, we arrived at 11:55 and it started just before 12. Can be very busy with school children but it is a massive church so enough room. very pretty and worth a visit
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls

The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls was part of the federal sanctuary of the three Gauls dedicated to the cult of Rome and Augustus celebrated by the 60 Gallic tribes when they gathered at Lugdunum (Lyon). The amphitheatre was built at the foot of the La Croix-Rousse hill at what was then the confluence of the Rhône and Saône.

Excavations have revealed a basement of three elliptical walls linked by cross-walls and a channel surrounding the oval central arena. The arena was slightly sloped, with the building"s south part supported by a now-vanished vault. The arena"s dimensions are 67,6m by 42m. This phase of the amphitheatre housed games which accompanied the imperial cult, with its low capacity (1,800 seats) being enough for delegations from the 60 Gallic tribes.

The amphitheatre was expanded at the start of the 2nd century. Two galleries were added around the old amphitheatre, raising its width from 25 metres to 105 metres and its capacity to about 20,000 seats. In so doing it made it a building open to the whole population of Lugdunum and its environs.