Mater Dolorosa cemetery complex, Bytom
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Mater Dolorosa cemetery complex

Bytom

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The parish cemetery Mater Dolorosa is one of the most valuable and best preserved complexes of this type in the region. At the same time, it is the oldest surviving necropolis of Bytom, in which many prominent and distinguished persons connected with the history of the city have been buried. The complex is also valuable due to its clear and unaltered historical layout and its well-preserved, historic graves, being important examples of funerary art from the late 19th century and early 20th century on a regional scale.

History

The establishment of the Bytom cemetery Mater Dolorosa in the 2nd half of the 19th century was necessitated by the rapid growth of the city and the resultant lack of space at the 17th century parish cemetery situated right outside the city walls. At the same time, there was a need to establish a new parish and build another church, which was eventually located within the area of the old cemetery.

In 1865, rejencja opolska (a Prussian administrative unit operating in Upper and Lower Silesia) decided to close the parish cemetery for sanitary reasons and create a new, larger complex. In the next year, the Cemetery Association ad Sanctam Trinitatem started buying parcels for the new cemetery nearby Piekarska Street and Kraszewskiego Street. In 1868, the cemetery Mater Dolorosa I, located at 71 Piekarska Street, was opened. The cemetery was divided into eight sections, defined by avenues, and an area was allocated for the Gothic Revival Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows, built in the years 1881-1882 according to a design by Hugo Herr. Paul Jackisch designed a gravedigger’s house in 1869 and Theodor Ehl designed a cemetery gardener’s house in 1890. As the cemetery quickly became full, authorisation to enlarge its area was granted in 1884. As a result, a smaller Mater Dolorosa II cemetery was established in 1886. Due to the ownership situation in that area, the new cemetery was laid out a short distance away from Mater Dolorosa I, at 75 Piekarska Street. A cemetery administrator’s house was built at Piekarska Street in 1904 and later extended in 1933. In 1932, a design of a chapel of rest was drawn up; eventually, it was built at a certain distance from the cemeteries, at the intersection of Piekarska Street and Kraszewskiego Street. In 1938, Mater Dolorosa I was enclosed with a brick wall with a cemetery gate, which survived to this day. In the 1970s, a major part of Mater Dolorosa II was closed down so that no more burials could take place there. The rearward part of the cemetery was pulled down, only a small number of graves, situated near Pierkaska Street, were left. The older part of the cemetery complex, i.e. Mater Dolorosa I, was saved and put under legal protection by entering it into the register of monuments in 1987.

Description

The protected part of the Mater Dolorosa cemetery is located in the northern part of Bytom city centre, at the intersection of Piekarska Street and Legionów Avenue. The cemetery contains old and new graves and a cemetery chapel surrounded by old trees, as well as a cemetery administrator’s house facing Legionów Avenue. The complex is enclosed with a wall from the 1930s, built of brick pillars and metal. A short distance to the north, there is a newer part of the cemetery complex, the cemetery Mater Dolorosa II, not covered by the conservation policy.

The cemetery has the shape of an elongated rectangle, extended on the north-south axis. The complex is divided into eight regular sections and a west row, defined by three avenues parallel to Piekarska Street and three transverse avenues. The main entrance to the cemetery is situated on the axis of the central transverse avenue. At the intersection of both central avenues, there is a stone cross, and the very centre of the cemetery is occupied by the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows, designed by H. Herr. It is a Gothic Revival brick building facing the north. It has a simple floor plan, consisting of a rectangular nave terminating in a pentagonal apse on the south side. The compact structure is reinforced by buttresses and covered with a high gable roof. Its dominant feature is the rectangular tower surmounted by a high pyramid tented roof, adjoining the main part of the building on the east side. A number of grave types can be distinguished in the cemetery: graves in the form of a cross situated on a pedestal, free-standing graves with sculptures or graves having the form of a slab with an inscription, frequently highly artistic. However, the most valuable group of graves are the Neo-Gothic and Neoclassical cemetery chapels located in the western part of the cemetery. The protected graves of this type include the central chapel of the Garus family from 1880, designed by H. Herr. It is a small, square structure with symmetrically arranged pointed-arch arcades on three sides, embellished with wimpergs and pinnacles and surmounted by a decorative small steeple. A short distance away, there is a Gothic Revival chapel of the Schostak family from 1895. Rectangular in shape, it is covered with a gable roof decorated with pinnacles, triangular gables, and a wimperg topping the pointed-arch portal in the front façade. In the same row, there are examples of Neoclassical graves, including the mausoleum of the Hakuba family from c. 1910 and the mausoleum of the Gotzler family from c. 1900. Both mausoleums feature porticos with columns topped with a decorative entablature or a triangular tympanum, coffer ceilings, and closed back walls with inscription plaques.

The graveyard is open every day from 7.30 a.m. to dusk.

compiled by Agnieszka Olczyk, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 19-09-2014.

Bibliography

  • Cmentarze bytomskie od średniowiecza do współczesności, red. J. Drabina, Bytom 1999.
  • Karta cmentarza Mater Dolorosa I (duży) [w Bytomiu], opr. WOBIDZ Katowice, 1988, Archiwum NID.

General information

  • Type: Roman Catholic cemetery
  • Chronology: 1868 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Piekarska 71, Bytom
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district Bytom, commune Bytom
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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