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:
Seville's cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage. After its completion in the early 16th century, Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years.
The basilica occupies the site of the great Aljama mosque, built in the late 12th century by the Almohads, the ruling Moorish dynasty, of which the only remaining parts are the Patio de Naranjas, the Puerta del Perdon (on Calle Alemanes, on the north side), and the Giralda (formerly the minaret, now the belltower).
Shortly after Seville's conquest by Ferdinand III, the mosque was converted into the city's cathedral. Its orientation was changed and its spaces partitioned and adorned to suit Christian worship practices. The internal space was gradually divided into chapels by constructing walls in the bays along the northern and southern walls. Almost the entire eastern half of the cathedral was occupied by the royal chapel that would hold the bodies of Ferdinand, his wife and Alfonso the Wise.
In 1401, city leaders decided to build a new cathedral to replace the grand mosque that served as the cathedral until then. Construction continued until 1506. The clergy of the parish offered half their stipends to pay for architects, artists, stained glass artisans, masons, carvers, craftsman and labourers and other expenses. Five years after construction ended, in 1511, the crossing lantern, or cimborrio, collapsed and work on the cathedral recommenced. The crossing again collapsed in 1888 due an earthquake, and work on the dome continued until at least 1903.
The interior has the longest nave of any cathedral in Spain. The central nave rises to a height of 42 metres. In the main body of the cathedral, the most noticeable features are the great boxlike choir loft, which fills the central portion of the nave, and the vast Gothic retablo of carved scenes from the life of Christ. This altarpiece was the lifetime work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart.
The Capilla Mayor (Great Chapel), dominated by a vast Gothic retablo (altarpiece) comprised of 45 carved scenes from the life of Christ, as well as Santa Maria de la Sede, the cathedral's patron saint. The lifetime's work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart, this is the ultimate masterpiece of the cathedral - the largest and richest altarpiece in the world and one of the finest examples of Gothic woodcarving anywhere.
The Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville. Its height is 105 m. The Giralda is the former minaret of the mosque that stood on the site under Muslim rule, and was built to resemble the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, Morocco. It was converted into a bell tower for the cathedral after the Reconquista, although the topmost section dates from the Renaissance.
The tomb of Christopher Columbus is one of the main attractions of the cathedral for visitors, housing the remains of the great explorer who died in poverty in Valladolid. The tomb itself is more recent, from the 1892, with four bearers presenting the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra.