The Dominican church of St Nicholas, Gdańsk
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Dominican church of St Nicholas

Gdańsk

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The history of the 14th-century church of St Nicholas .begins with an earlier Romanesque church of St Nicholas, which was taken over by the Dominicans in 1227, after they have arrived in Gdańsk. The presence of the Order of Preachers, which resided there for many centuries, as well as the fact that it remained in Catholic hands for almost the entire period from its establishment until today have contributed to the sumptuousness of its interior. Neither the church nor its interior fittings sustained any significant damage during World War II - a situation which was exceptional given the degree of devastation elsewhere in the city.

History

The Dominicans were brought to the city of Gdańsk in 1227 by Świętopełk II, duke of Pomerania, who donated the relatively small church of St Nicholas to the Order; the foundations of this Romanesque building were discovered in 2001. The construction of the current church, erected in a new location, began after 1348. During the third quarter of the 14th century, the chancel, the sacristy and the lower, quadrangular part of the tower were built, followed by the nave during the fourth quarter of the 14th century. During the second half of the 15th century, the tower was extended upwards, while the sacristy received a crenellated attic. A chapel was also built on the northern side of the chancel. Works on the vaulting were completed in 1487. The church was renovated in 1758. The former northern chapel was converted into the chapel of St Hyacinth during the 18th century. Following the incorporation of Gdańsk into Prussia, the Order was disbanded. During the siege in 1813 the church sustained damage, with the main section of the monastery being destroyed. In 1840 the former monastery buildings were torn down. A parish was established at the church. During the second half of the 19th century, the interiors were refurbished a couple of times, with the rectory building being erected adjacent to the church, on its western side. The western gable end was renovated in 1903; the Gothic Revival vault above the sacristy was constructed in the same year. The church has managed to survive World War II unscathed and was returned to the Dominicans in 1945. The first renovation works, involving the roofing and vaults, were performed in 1950; regular maintenance of the church and its impressive interior fittings is being performed ever since.

Description

The church, oriented towards the east, is located in Main Town, on the corner of the Świętojańska street and Lawendowa street, on a separate plot of land. The building is an example of a three-nave, six-bay hall church with shallow chapels positioned between internal buttresses; churches of this type, designed in the Gothic style, are a typical feature of the City of Gdańsk. The chancel is built on a rectangular plan and features a four-bay layout. It is adjoined by a chapel in the north and a tower and three-bay sacristy in the south. The body of the church is compact, elongated, with a small tower. The western and eastern walls feature decorative gable ends. The church is covered with gable roofs (with the middle nave and chancel sharing the same roof and the side naves having separate roofs). The church is made of brick arranged in a Gothic (Polish) pattern. It features stellar vaults with both six- and four-armed star patterns formed by the intersecting ribs. The roofs are based on a timber truss and covered with ceramic roof tiles.

The facades are austere and feature minimal decoration; they are topped with a simple frieze in the form of a band. The southern facade features pointed-arch blind windows positioned between the actual windows as well as two Baroque portals; the western facade features an openwork, tripartite gable based on a nine-axis design. The eastern gable is austere in design and adorned with pinnacles, while the northern facade features a crenellation in the Gothic Revival style. The interior of the church is divided by two rows of octagonal pillars, with a pointed rood arch. The walls are covered with plaster and painted white; the ceiling vault ribs are painted in a contrasting green shade. The sumptuous interior fittings originates mostly from the 17th and 18th century. The chancel features a five-level wooden main altar dating back to about 1643, incorporating the painting of St Nicholas, executed by an artist from the circle of Herman Han, monastic choir stalls (with seats dating back to the 16th century and the seat backs being a later addition, installed in 1730) as well as the group of sculptures positioned on the rood beam and forming a Crucifixion scene, executed in years 1520-1525. The nave contains a group of ten side altars, a baptismal font from 1732 featuring a decorative wooden casing, a pulpit dating back to around 1730 and a choir gallery with pipe organ casing from the mid-18th century.

Accessible historic building.

Compiled by Krystyna Babnis, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 18.07.2014.

Bibliography

  • Friedrich J., Gdańskie zabytki architektury do końca XVIII w., Gdańsk 1997, s. 96-101.

  • Roll B., Kościół par. pw. św. Mikołaja, [w:] Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce. Miasto Gdańsk, cz. 1: Główne Miasto, Warszawa 2006, s. 129-128.

  • Śliwiński B., Możejko B. i in., Kościół św. Mikołaja, [w:] Śliwiński B. (red. nauk.), Encyklopedia Gdańska, Gdańsk 2012, s. 519-521.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: poł. XIV - początek XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Świętojańska , Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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