Evangelical church of St Paul, currently serving as the parish church of St Peter and Paul Apostles, Bydgoszcz
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Evangelical church of St Paul, currently serving as the parish church of St Peter and Paul Apostles

Bydgoszcz

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The distinctive silhouette of the church, towering above the main street of the city centre, remains an excellent example of 19th-century Protestant architecture. Its location is by no means a coincidence, for the church formed part of the design for a new city centre, located in the vicinity of the Regency building, the Royal Classical Gymnasium as well as an extensive park. Today, it remains an example of the application of forms that were considered highly innovative for the 19th-century Historicist architecture prevalent in the German territories at the time.

History

In 1870, the German Evangelical community approached Friedrich Adler, an architect based in Berlin, about creating the design for a new church. The church was intended to become a landmark feature of the southern part of the former Weltzien Platz, known today as Plac Wolności (Freedom Square). The cornerstone was laid in 1872, with the major construction works being completed four years later. The task of supervising the development was entrusted to Heinrich Grüder, the municipal counsellor for construction works. When preparing the design for the church, F. Adler, its architect, took inspirations from the so-called “Eisenach Regulations” - guidelines concerning church architecture formulated in the form of 16 principles during the Ecclesiastical Conference in Eisenach in 1861.

The monumental church, consisting of several clustered sections and accentuated by the slender tower rising above its western façade, quickly became the dominant feature of the representational Gdańska street. Its interior, illuminated by 208 gas lights, was capable of accommodating up to 1750 churchgoers. The chancel and the sacristy were graced by stained glass windows funded by Emperor William I himself and created by the Imperial Stained Glass Institute in Berlin. The painted decorations inside the church were executed by the Berlin-based painter Theodor Hase, who completed his work in 1880. The pipe organ installed inside the church were manufactured by the Wilhelm Sauer Company, based in Frankfurt an der Oder. The terracotta architectural detailing was created by a specialist company from Charlottenburg near Berlin. During winter months, the faithful would no longer be forced to endure the chilling cold of the unheated church interior thanks to a heating system powered by a gas-heated boiler situated beneath the chancel, which allowed warm air to be circulated around the interior using a system of underfloor heating ducts. Until the end of World War II, the church remained the place of worship of the local German Evangelical community. In February 1945, the church was handed over to the Polish Catholic community; soon afterwards, on October 1, 1946, it was elevated to the status of a Roman Catholic parish church. The first renovation works took place during the same year, while in the years 1956-1957, new interior painted decorations were executed by Leon Drapiewski, based on the design produced by his brother, Władysław.

Description

The brick church, designed in the Historicist style, incorporates a variety of Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival themes. It was designed on a Latin cross floor plan, with the transept arms featuring polygonal end sections. The single-nave, two-bay main body is separated from the chancel by a rood arch. The chancel itself features a ribbed groin vault. A tall, slender tower rises above the monumental westwork, wider than the nave. The archivolt portal of the main entrance is positioned at the ground-floor level of the tower. A dome positioned on an octagonal tholobate pierced with circular windows rises above the nave and transept crossing. The eastern sacristy takes the form of an ambulatory with a polygonal annex, encircling the chancel; this arrangement has resulted in the formation of a picturesque cluster of shapes, visible from the direction of the park of King Casimir the Great.

The front façade (westwork) consists of a number of distinct sections separated by friezes. The four-storey clock tower, crowned with an octagonal spire with ribbed corners, is flanked by stepped buttresses at the corners. The main entrance, preceded by a flight of steps, is adorned with a lavishly decorated, archivolt portal incorporating palmette and rosette motifs.

The walls of the side aisles are partitioned with buttresses, the spaces between them occupied by rectangular windows topped with semicircular arches and adorned with tracery.

Inside, the most notable fragments of the original fixtures and fittings are the galleries rising above the main entrance and inside the transept arms.

The church may be explored before or after church service.

compiled by Agnieszka Wysocka, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 26-11-2014 - 8-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Kuberska I., Architektura sakralna Bydgoszczy w okresie historyzmu, “Materiały do dziejów kultury i sztuki Bydgoszczy i regionu”, no. 3, 1998, pp. 61-82
  • Wojdak E., Postępowe idee protestanckiej architektury sakralnej w bydgoskim budownictwie kościelnym ostatniej ćwierci XIX wieku, “Materiały do dziejów kultury i sztuki Bydgoszczy i regionu”, no. 16, pp. 25-37

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1872-1876 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: pl. Wolności , Bydgoszcz
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district Bydgoszcz, commune Bydgoszcz
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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