St Nicholas' Church

Gdańsk, Poland

The Dominican Church of St. Nicholas is one of the oldest churches in Gdansk. Its history begins in the 12th century. It was built at the junction of two important trade routes: the ancient mercantile path (via mercatorum) and the route leading from the royal castle of Gdansk’s estate in Pomerania.

On January 22, 1227, the Pomeranian prince Svatopluk entrusted the Church of St. Nicholas to the Dominicans, who had just arrived in the Polish territories. Immediately they began intensive pastoral activities both within the city and in neighboring Prussia. The church became the site of a thriving Dominican priory, which soon had a population of nearly two hundred brethren. After Gdansk passed under the dominion of the Teutonic Knights in 1308, Dominicans built a new church alongside the old one, which is preserved to this day.

The most dramatic period in the history of the church was the 16th century, the age of the Reformation. The church was repeatedly destroyed and plundered during the riots. The friars were expelled, and several of them lost their lives. In 1578 they returned to the priory and assumed the pastoral care of the Catholic population in the increasingly Protestant Gdansk.

Since that time, St. Nicholas became once again a celebrated church. Within the walls of the priory lived more and more friars, and the intellectual life and preaching of the brethren thrived. The church received new and significant appointments (the main altar, choir stalls, pulpit, organ). Visits by Polish kings on the occasion of their trips to Gdansk attest to the centrality and importance of St. Nicholas Church.

The end of the heyday of the monastery came with the Polish partitions (1772), and Napoleon wars. In 1813, as a result of Russian bombardment of the city, the priory was burned. Twenty years later, the Dominicans were forced to leave town, and eventually the ruined monastic buildings were demolished. The church was established as the Catholic parish of the city (one of four in what was then Danzig).

The year 1945 proved to be disastrous for Gdansk. The city was 90% destroyed and the people were expelled. All the churches downtown were reduced to rubble, except one. This sole survivor was in fact St. Nicholas.

In April 1945, the Dominicans returned to Gdansk (112 years after their departure in 1833). They had come mostly from Lviv, which had been abandoned by the Poles. They brought from there a medieval icon of Our Lady of Victory, the patroness of the city (today it is in the church).

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 1348-90
Category: Religious sites in Poland

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Михаил Смирнов (4 months ago)
Невелика церква св. Миколая побудована на цьому місці вірогідно у 1185 році. У 1227 р. поморський князь Святополк передав церкву ордену домініканців, скоро тут з'явився монастир. Сучасний костел почали будувати у 1348 році. У 1487 р. побудовано зірчасте склепіння та підвищена вежа костелу. Під час реформації костел двічі був спустошений - у 1525 і 1576 роках, у 1564 р. монастир передали протестантам, а скарбницю забрали до ратуші. У 1567 р. король Сигізмунд II Август повернув монастир домініканцям. У 1813 р. росіяни бомбардували монастир і він повністю згорів, а у 1834 орден був розпущений, монастирські будови були остаточно зруйновані, а при костелі виникла католицька парафія, одна з 4 у тодішньому Гданьську. Цей костел - одна з небагатьох споруд, що вціліли під час 2 світової війни. Існує 2 версії щодо цього: 1) нібито радянські вояки дуже поважали св. Миколая (?!?!11177) тому не зруйнували костел, і 2) нібито настоятель підкупив червоних бісів запасами алкоголю з підвалів костелу. Очевидно, що обидві версії цілком неспроможні, поляки такі фантазери, очевидно, що костел просто випадково вцілів під час навали тих відморожених звірів.
Adam Gosiewski (5 months ago)
The only church to survive the war untouched. And what a treasure! Cool, austere gothic architecture from the outside. An eruption of black, gold and oak in its amazing baroque interior. Boasts one of the finest organs in Poland - an authentic, baroque organ. Home to white-cloaked Domincan monks. Full of atmosphere. Added benefit - the latest church-service every Sunday in Gdansk at 21.00hrs - known as the last-chance-mass. Also home to some splendid concerts and music festivals. A must! Sadly, this church is currently not open to the public due to large cracks appearing in the vaulted ceiling. Widely seen as a direct reaction to the reckless development of large shopping malls with deep underground sublevels and the diversion of underground rivers and streams. Hopefully St Nicholas's can be saved.
Michał Bartylak (7 months ago)
Ze względu na liczne pęknięcia sklepienia, filaru i posadzki świątyni grozi katastrofa budowlana przez co będzie ona nieczynna do odwołania.
issa malki (8 months ago)
Amazing
T.N (8 months ago)
The interior of St-Nicolas church in the old town of Gdańsk.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.