The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a landmark of the city of Wrocław in Poland. The current standing cathedral is the fourth church to have been built on the site. A first church at the location of the present cathedral was built under Přemyslid rule in the mid 10th century, a fieldstone building with one nave about 25 m in length, including a distinctive transept and an apse. After the Polish conquest of Silesia and the founding of the Wrocław diocese under the Piast duke Bolesław I Chrobry about 1000, this Bohemian church was replaced by a larger basilical structure with three naves, a crypt, and towers on its eastern side. The first cathedral was however soon destroyed, probably by the invading troops of Duke Bretislaus of Bohemia around 1039. A larger, Romanesque-style church was soon built in its place in the times of Duke Casimir I, and expanded similar to Płock Cathedral on the behest of Bishop Walter of Malonne in 1158.
After the end of the Mongol invasion, the church was again largely rebuilt in the present-day Brick Gothic style. It was the first building of the city to be made of brick when construction of the new choir and ambulatory started in 1244. The nave with sacristy and the basements of the prominent western steeples were added under Bishop Nanker until 1341.
On June 19, 1540, a fire destroyed the roof, which was restored 16 years later in Renaissance style. Another fire on June 9, 1759, burnt the towers, roof, sacristy, and quire. The damage was slowly repaired during the following 150 years. In the 19th century, Karl Lüdecke rebuilt the interior and western side in neogothic style. Further work was done at the beginning of the 20th century by Hugo Hartung, especially on the towers ruined during the 1759 fire.
The cathedral was almost entirely destroyed (about 70% of the construction) during the Siege of Breslau and heavy bombing by the Red Army in the last days of World War II. Parts of the interior fittings were saved and are now on display at the National Museum in Warsaw. The initial reconstruction of the church lasted until 1951, when it was reconsecrated by Archbishop Stefan Wyszyński. In the following years, additional aspects were rebuilt and renovated. The original, conical shape of the towers was restored only in 1991.
The cathedral holds the largest pipe organ in Poland, built in 1913 by E.F. Walcker & Sons of Ludwigsburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, for the Centennial Hall — formerly the largest organ in the world.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.