Former Franciscan church of St Andrew, Barczewo
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Former Franciscan church of St Andrew



Example of a church originally built in the Gothic style, typical of the Warmia region. The interior features a Late Renaissanc marble headstone of cardinal Batory, made in the workshop of Willem and Abraham van den Blocke, as well as parts of the lavish interior fittings from the 17th and 18th centuries.


Shortly after the location of the town under Kulm law in 1364, the Franciscans, who were invited to the town by bishop Jan I Styprock, commenced the construction of a brick and stone monastery with a garth; towards the end of the 14th century, they began the construction of a brick church which adjoined the monastery. During the first phase of the construction process they erected a four-bay nave; a lower and narrower chancel was added after 1414. In the period of Reformation, the ruined church was taken over by Bernardine monks owing to the efforts made by cardinal Andrzej Batory and then reconstructed at the end of the 16th century. The interior received a barrel vault with lunettes, covered with a dense net of ribs supported by pillars positioned adjacent to the walls and connected by arcaded niches. A chapel of St Andrew was built in 1598; positioned adjacent to the eastern section of the southern wall, the chapel contained the tomb of its founder and his brother Balthazar, made by Wilhelm and Abraham can den Blocke, renowned sculptors from Gdańsk. During the 18th century, the facade was redesigned in the Baroque style; the redesigned facade was crowned with a gable adorned with volute-shaped fractables and partitioned by a set of pilasters and niches, most likely designed by Ernest Mazhur from the town of Bisztynek. In 1810, the Prussian authorities abolished the monastic order, and the monastery was converted into a prison. After a fire which took place in 1846, the monastery was finally demolished. The Franciscans returned to Barczewo in 1982.


The church was erected in the south-east corner of the town. It is a one-nave edifice made of brick, oriented towards the east, with a narrower, four-bay, rectangular chancel forming an extension of the nave. Both parts of the church are covered with gable roofs. The interior features barrel vaults with lunettes, covered with a dense network of ribs supported by pillars which stand right next to the walls and interconnected with arcaded niches. The eastern part of the arcade incorporates a passageway to an adjoining chapel covered with a gable roof. The western facade is crowned with a Baroque gable framed with volute-shaped fractables and accentuated by pairs of double pilasters with niches incorporated into some of the fields framed by the pilasters. An inscription in Latin can be seen at the level of the string course. The eastern gable of the main body of the church is crowned with pinnacles, whereas the facades of the nave and presbytery are partitioned by buttresses. A section of the northern facade incorporates remnants of the ceiling vault arches and arcades of the monastery cloister that has once adjoined the wall of the church. The most valuable historical artifact kept inside the church is the marble cenotaph designed in the Mannerist style, founded by cardinal Andrzej Batory in 1598, made by Wilhelm and Abraham van den Blocke, two renowned designers from Gdańsk, combining two themes that were popular during the period in question: the lying figure (Balthazar, who was the cardinal’s brother) and the kneeling figure (the founder). The sculptures of the deceased were executed in white marble and are in stark contrast to the black marble background. The design was inspired by the gravestones of Roman cardinals and constituted a synthesis of Italian influences with the typically Dutch structure of the monument itself, based on the architectural drawings by Cornelius Floris. A lavish collection of period interior fittings originating from the 17th and 18th century (including a group of seven altars) can be seen inside the church. Notable features include the main altar and the two altars positioned by the rood arch, built somewhere around 1730 at the workshop of Krzysztof Peucker from Reszel, the Rococo pulpit by Krzysztof Pervanger from Tolkmick and the choir stalls in the presbytery originating from the beginning of the 17th century, designed in the Mannerist style.

Accessible structure. The church may be visited upon prior telephone appointment.

Compiled by: Maurycy Domino, 10.12.2014.



  • Konopniewska O., Andrzej Batory (1563 - 1599) biskup warmiński rodem z Węgier, „Borussia” 2002, no. 28, p. 142-148.
  • Łoziński Z.J., Pomniki sztuki w Polsce, Warszawa 1992, p. 355.
  • Rzempołuch A., Przewodnik po zabytkach sztuki dawnych Prus Wschodnich, Olsztyn 1992, p. 107-108.
  • Tatarkiewicz W., O sztuce polskiej XVII i XVIII wieku, Warszawa 1966, p. 410.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1364-1400
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Pl. Batorego 1A, Barczewo
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district olsztyński, commune Barczewo - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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