The Royal Chapel, Gdańsk
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The sole surviving example of a Baroque temple in the Main Town area of Gdańsk. The overall design of the Royal Chapel is most likely the work of Tylman van Gameren, the court architect of king John III Sobieski.

History

The decision to erect the chapel in the vicinity of other rectory buildings of the St Mary’s Church was taken in August 1677, after king John III Sobieski visited Gdańsk. The funds for the construction of the chapel were provided by Andrzej Olszowski, the primate, who left them to the church in his will; the king provided an additional amount of 20 thousand zlotys. In the autumn of 1677, the initial concept was created - a hand-drawn illustration of the chapel by Tylman van Garemen, the royal architect and secretary. The construction process was overseen by Barthel Ranisch, a municipal architect, while the sculptural decorations adorning the facade are attributed to Andreas Schlueter the younger. The chapel was erected in years 1678-1681 and consecrated in 1683; in 1840, a separate parish was established there. In 1838, the first major renovation was conducted, during which the paintings underneath the dome were executed (The Four Evangelists by Karl Friedrich Meyerheim). In 1877 another set of paintings - this time inside the dome itself - was created (The Prophets by Albert Renne). In the 1930s, restoration works were performed on the facade, with parts of the stonework being reconstructed at that time. In March 1945, the interior was completely gutted by fire, with damage to the vaulted ceilings, roof and roof lanterns; the small tenement house in the west was reduced to rubble. In years 1946-1949, the building was partially reconstructed; in 1994, the Committee for the Restoration of the Royal Chapel was established, its task being to oversee the comprehensive conservation works, which took many years to complete. The final works were performed in October 2006.

Description

The chapel is located on a corner plot of land, in the southern frontage of the św. Ducha Street, on the junction with Podkramarska street. The building forms the northern wing of the rectangular St Mary’s Church rectory building, its facade facing northwards. In the course of post-war reconstruction efforts, the Grobla I street frontage was moved, so that the Royal Chapel would form the terminating vista. The building was designed in the Baroque style and built on a Greek cross floor plan set inside a rectangle, with slightly extended arms of the main (east-west) axis. The dome, supported by four pentagonal columns, is positioned above the central bay. The entire design was supplemented by annexes in the form of small tenement houses, built on irregular quadrilateral floor plans. The body of the chapel is crowned with a dome set atop an octagonal tholobate, flanked by two roof lanterns; the front facade is framed by two small tenement houses on each side, featuring gable roofs and gables embellished with volute decorations. The building features brick walls covered with plaster. Inside, the chapel features groin and barrel vaults with lunettes, while the side annexes have simple, flat ceilings. The dome and the hip roof above the chapel are covered with copper sheets, with roof tiles used on the annexe. The sculptural and architectural detailing was executed in stone. The facade of the main chapel building features three axes and two storeys and is partitioned by four pilasters topped with a mitered entablature with a projecting cornice and an attic in the form of a balustrade. Three portals pierce the facade on the ground floor level, with the centre one, flanked by two Ionic columns, being the most lavish. The first floor section features three large rectangular windows, with a royal coat of arms topped with a crown above the centre window. The facade of the two identical tenement houses feature a three-axis design and three storeys; their gable ends feature volute-shaped decorations and stonework detailing. Other facades of the building are plain, its walls covered with plaster. The main chapel is located on the first floor of the building and is accessible through the western side portal, the main portal serving as the gateway to the rectory courtyard. The interior of the central section of the chapel is separated by a set of pillars and opens into the side bays leading around the chapel - as well as into the interiors of the tenement houses which abut the chapel from east and west - via four archways. The original interior fittings have not been preserved.

Limited access to the historic building. Interior tours available upon prior appointment at the parish office of the St Mary’s Church (ul. Podkramarska 5).

Compiled by Krystyna Babnis, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 23.06.2014.

Bibliography

  • Bogdanowicz S., Kaplica Królewska w Gdańsku, Gdańsk 1992.
  • Kondziela H., Kaplica Królewska w Gdańsku i jej twórcy, „Studia Pomorskie” 1957, t. 2.
  • Krzyżanowski L., Kościół fil. pw. św. Ducha zw. Kaplicą Królewską, [w:] Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce. City Gdańsk, cz. 1: Główne Miasto, Warszawa 2006, s. 126-128.
  • Mossakowski S., Tylman z Gameren architekt polskiego baroku, Wrocław 1973.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 2 poł. XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: św. Ducha 58, Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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