St. Florian's Cathedral with its 75-meter towers dominates eastern Warsaw's Praga district and highlight the cathedral’s role as a form of protest against the erstwhile Russian domination of Poland.
There has been a Catholic church presence in or around the site of the future church since 1583, but the impetus for creating a lasting and substantial church did not arrive until the late 19th century. The map of Europe was redrawn during the Congress of Vienna and the resulting territorial maneuvers placed the Duchy of Warsaw under the control of the Russian Empire, transforming it into the Congress Poland. Among other intrusions, over twenty Russian Orthodox churches were built in Poland. To protest against the perceived imposition of a foreign church, and in direct reaction to the monumental Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene built down the street, St Florian’s was built with two commanding 75-meter towers between 1897-1904. The church is named after St. Florian, the patron saint of professions associated with fire, such as firefighters, steelworkers, chimney sweeps, potters and bakers.
During and after the Siege of Warsaw, churches were used as a hiding place for Jews, the Warsaw Army and as a general refuge for civilians. St. Florian's was destroyed by the Germans as they withdrew from Poland in 1944 after the Warsaw Uprising. The church remained in ruins for several years, but by the 1950s a reconstruction effort slowly began with support from Praga residents. The rebuilt church was reopened in 1972.
St Florian's is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Warszawa-Praga and by order of the Holy See was raised to the rank of minor basilica in 1992. Over four hundred priests form the ministry in this diocese covering 1,274 square miles, divided into 160 parishes and serving approximately one million Polish Catholics.
St Florian's is built in a Gothic Revival style distinguished by two twenty-story towers facing Al. Solidarności, capped with bronze spires. Most of its exterior is made of red brick. Over the entrances are mosaic depictions of Jesus Christ and the emblem of the first bishop of Warsaw-Praga, Kazimierz Romaniuk, while the interior is decorated in red or white plaster and brick.References:
The Arch of Constantine is situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312. Dedicated in 315, it is the largest Roman triumphal arch. The arch spans the Via triumphalis, the way taken by the emperors when they entered the city in triumph.
Though dedicated to Constantine, much of the decorative material incorporated earlier work from the time of the emperors Trajan (98-117), Hadrian (117-138) and Marcus Aurelius (161-180), and is thus a collage. The last of the existing triumphal arches in Rome, it is also the only one to make extensive use of spolia, reusing several major reliefs from 2nd century imperial monuments, which give a striking and famous stylistic contrast to the sculpture newly created for the arch.
The arch is 21 m high, 25.9 m wide and 7.4 m deep. Above the archways is placed the attic, composed of brickwork reveted (faced) with marble. A staircase within the arch is entered from a door at some height from the ground, on the west side, facing the Palatine Hill. The general design with a main part structured by detached columns and an attic with the main inscription above is modelled after the example of the Arch of Septimius Severus on the Roman Forum.