Parish Church of St Nicholas, Brzeg
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Parish Church of St Nicholas

Brzeg

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The Church of St Nicholas in Brzeg is one of the largest Gothic temples in the Opole region. Its extremely slender nave (relative to the width) is one of the characteristic features of the Silesian reductive Gothic. In addition, the church boasts a remarkable collection of stone epitaphs from different periods.

History

The first mention of the church is found in a document dated 1279. In 1280 the Jesuit Order took over the administration of the church and decided to build a new temple. A contract for the construction of five bays of the nave body was signed in 1370; in the following years, the aisles were completed and covered with ceilings and a roof. The second stage of the project involved the construction of a new chancel and spanned the years 1383-1389. The main construction works on the Brzeg temple came to a close in 1417. In the following centuries, the north porch was added (1420), also St Anne’s Chapel (1506); the sacristy was raised (1625) and wall paintings were made (mid-15th century). In the 19th century, the temple was extended according to the design by Karl Luedecke. The towers were raised and a gallery was added. In 1524 the church witnessed first Protestant sermons. From that time until 1945, the temple was supervised by the Evangelicals.

The church was heavily shelled in 1945. The upper section of the towers collapsed along with some vaults of the aisles; the fittings burnt in a fire. Because of the damage, the building remained idle for some years. The church was rebuilt in the years 1959-1966 and in 1970 its status of a parish church was restored.

Description

The church is located in the south-west part of the old town in Kościelny Square, surrounded by Zakonnic Street (from the west), Kościelna Street (from the north), Polska Street (from the east) and Długa Street (from the south).

It was built as a three-aisled, east-oriented basilica with a three-sided termination of the chancel and straight closed aisles. From the north, in its central part, a quadrilateral St Anne’s Chapel was added together with some utility rooms and a four-sided porch. From the south side, beginning with the third east bay, a two-level sacristy was added with a knight’s chamber on the upper floor, the chapels of St Barbara and St Catherine with a three-sided termination and a porch. On the west, there are two four-storey towers connected by a gallery.

The church is made of brick, rests on a stone basecourse and is partly supported by buttresses. Its façades are articulated with buttresses and slender window openings, mostly terminated in pointed-arch and with tracery.

The nave is covered with a double-pitched roof with dormers, multi-plane over the chancel. The aisles, porch and St Anne’s Chapel are covered with a lean-to roof. The chapels of St Barbara and St Catherine are covered with gable roofs, multi-plane at the terminating part. The towers are topped with hip roofs.

The west façade is 3-axis with a recessed central axis braced with towers. In the ground floor on the central axis, there is a pointed-arch, two-storey stone portal with decorative tracery. In the upper level, the portal is decorated with retaining arches and pinnacles and culminated in a gable, also braced with pinnacles and decorative crockets. On the axis above the portal, there is a pointed-arch window opening culminating in a triangular gable. The corners of the south tower are buttressed. At the level of the fourth storey, the towers are connected by a gallery resting on the arch. The north and south façade consist of the side façades of the nave rested on a high pedestal, topped with a cornice and partitioned by annexes and of high façades of the nave, articulated by the spacing of the pointed-arch window openings. The east façade is articulated by alternating buttresses and slender window openings.

The nave and chancel are covered with stellar vaulting (original in the chancel, reconstructed in the nave). The aisles are covered with groin and barrel vaults, resting on arches. The chancel and sacristy feature the fragments of a Gothic polychrome with the Tree of Life and Ten Thousand Martyrs. The church fittings mostly perished during a fire in 1945. Only epitaphs have survived on the outer walls. In addition, the church features a Gothic Holy Family triptych, brought from the church in Bąków in 1966.

The monument is available to visitors.

Compiled by Aleksandra Ziółkowska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Opole, 03-12-2015.

Bibliography

  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, t. 7: Województwo opolskie, z. 1: Powiat brzeski, Warszawa 1961, s. 4-9.
  • Harasimowicz J., Mors janua vitae, Śląskie epitafia i nagrobki wieku reformacji, Wrocław 1992.
  • Karta ewidencyjna, Kościół parafialny rzymskokatolicki pw. św. Mikołaja w Brzegu, oprac. Jacek Sawiński, 2005, Archiwum Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Ochrony Zabytków w Opolu.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1280 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Plac Kościelny , Brzeg
  • Location: Voivodeship opolskie, district brzeski, commune Brzeg
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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