St. Nicholas' Church in Brzeg is a Gothic basilica built between 1370 and 1420 during the reign of Louis I of Brzeg. He built it on the site of a former brick building, mentioned in sources from 1279.
In 1523, the town of Brzeg experienced a Reformation. Prince Frederick II introduced the Lutheran religion into the principality. In 1524, the former Franciscan monk Jan of Opava gave his first sermon in the church in the reformist spirit; having gained ducal support, the teachings of Martin Luther were quick to find recognition among most of the people. In 1525, the church of St. Nicholas began to function as a Protestant church, continuing this role until 1945. The walls and pillars of the church are of stone. It has wooden epitaphs of the rich citizens of Brzeg. At the end of the nineteenth century the church towers were extended in response to the heightening of towers in the Holy Cross Church.
After the church burned down in late January and February 1945, it was left in disrepair for 13 years (until 1958). In 1958, on the initiative of Father Kazimierz Makarska, it was rebuilt on the basis of the plans from 1370. During the renovation work, late Gothic wall frescoes were discovered in the sacristy.
The church takes the form of a three-aisled basilica with an elongated nave including a division for choir and lateral aisles leading to the main altar. The naves have vaults which are wide and dark. The main nave is separated from the side by pillars and simple linear spans, with lots of interior space. The church has fine decorations carved in wood and stained glass windows. To date, only fragments survive of the original wooden decorations. The woodwork was burnt during the Second World War; the remains can be found in the National Museum in Wrocław and in the Museum of the Silesian Piasts in Brzeg. Two of the original stained glass windows are located in the National Museum in Poznań.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.