The Church of St. John of Jerusalem Outside the Walls was originally built at the end of the 11th century, making it one of the oldest churches within the present boundaries of Poznań. The church is dedicated to St. John of Jerusalem (John the Baptist), the patron saint of the Knights Hospitallers, to whom the church belonged until 1832 (and to whom it has now been restored).
A church, dedicated to St. Michael, stood on the site near the fork of the roads leading to Śrem and Giecz at the end of the 11th century. According to Jan Długosz, on 6 May 1170 Duke Mieszko III and the bishop of Poznań set up a pilgrims' hospice there. In 1187 the church and hospice were granted to the Order of the Knights Hospitallers. Around the beginning of the 13th century the Order began construction of a new church, which is essentially the building which survives to this day. It was one of the first brick-built churches in Poland. At some point before 1288 the church was re-dedicated to the Order's patron saint, St. John of Jerusalem (John the Baptist), although the older name was still sometimes used as least until 1360. The Order was also granted land to the east and south of the church, now occupied by the Komandoria district and Lake Malta. Both these names are connected with the Hospitallers: komandoria means a commandry of that Order, while the island of Malta was once the Order's home.
Following fire damage in the late 15th century the church was rebuilt in Gothic style. Around 1512 an aisle, a tower and a timber ceiling were added. In 1736 a Baroque chapel was added on the south side. In 1832 the Prussian government abolished the Order, and the church became a parish church. During the Second World War it was used for storage, and it was damaged during the Battle of Poznań in 1945. It was restored in 1948, with attempts to restore the original Romanesque architectural style.
In 1992 the church was returned to the Order of Knights Hospitallers. The Order has opened an ambulatory care centre for cancer patients there.
The church has buttressed walls, two naves and a pitched roof. The tower, only slightly higher than the nave, has an asymmetric roof. The Baroque chapel on the east side has a cupola with a lantern. The oldest, Romanesque, walls are built in Flemish bond. The Romanesque western portal has two columns: that on the left dates from the 11th century, while the right-hand column is a reconstruction. Above the portal is a figure of John the Baptist. On the same wall is a Romaesque rosetta window. An original Romanesque window can also be seen on the eastern wall of the chancel. The church is topped with a Maltese cross. The remains of an old church cemetery can be found within the walls surrounding the church.
Both naves have a stellar vault from the late Gothic period. The chancel has a late Romaesque cruciform vault. The vaults display frescos painted in 1949 by Stanisław Teisseyre. The chancel has a late Gothic triptych made in a local workshop around 1520, and significantly restored after sustaining damage in the Second World War. It shows the sacra conversazione between the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist and Saint Stanisław. With the wings closed it shows the matyrdom of St. Stanisław and the beheading of John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. Another altar can be found in the aisle. In its centre is a picture of the mourning of Christ, many times repainted.
In Holy Cross Chapel is a Baroque altar from 1737. In its centre is a crucifix from the mid-17th century, once standing on the road to Śródka, and regarded as miraculous. It is normally covered by a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At the sides are figures of John the Baptist and St. Stanisław. Beneath the chapel is a crypt in which two Hospitaller commanders are buried: Michał Stanisław Dąbrowski (died 1740) and Andrzej Marcin Miaskowski (died 1832).
A sandstone font stands in the aisle, dating from 1522. It is decorated with tracery and a picture of the Baptism in the Jordan, made in 1615.References:
The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978).
The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the east – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Kraków itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Kraków was Poland's capital city and was among the largest cities in Europe already from before the time of the Renaissance. However, its decline started with the move of the capital to Warsaw in the very end of the 16th century. The city's decline was hastened by wars and politics leading to the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. By the time of the architectural restoration proposed for the cloth hall in 1870 under Austrian rule, much of the historic city center was decrepit. A change in political and economic fortunes for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria ushered in a revival due to newly established Legislative Assembly or Sejm of the Land. The successful renovation of the Cloth Hall, based on design by Tomasz Pryliński and supervised by Mayor Mikołaj Zyblikiewicz, Sejm Marshal, was one of the most notable achievements of this period.
The hall has hosted many distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries, such as Charles, Prince of Wales and Emperor Akihito of Japan, who was welcomed here in 2002. In the past, balls were held here, most notably after Prince Józef Poniatowski had briefly liberated the city from the Austrians in 1809. Aside from its history and cultural value, the hall still is still used as a center of commerce.
On the upper floor of the hall is the Sukiennice Museum division of the National Museum, Kraków. It holds the largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four grand exhibition halls arranged by historical period and the theme extending into an entire artistic epoch. The museum was upgraded in 2010 with new technical equipment, storerooms, service spaces as well as improved thematic layout for the display.
The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art was a major cultural venue from the moment it opened on October 7, 1879. It features late Baroque, Rococo, and Classicist 18th-century portraits and battle scenes by Polish and foreign pre-Romantics.