Corpus Christi Hospital Complex, Gdańsk
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Corpus Christi Hospital Complex

Gdańsk

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The complex is an example of a medieval hospital complex, extended in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The hospital church represents Gothic and Baroque sacred architecture. It is characterised by its original body resulting from multiple extensions and rich interior furnishings, including a valuable painting by Hans Vredeman de Vries titled “Allegory of Salvation and Sin”. An extremely valuable monument is a unique external pulpit.

The rectory represents Late Baroque residential architecture, whereas the hospital buildings are among the few examples of the eighteenth- and ninetheenth-century examples of buildings serving as hospitals-shelters.

History

The Corpus Christi Hospital was first mentioned in records of 1380. Originally, it was intended for lepers and, as such, placed outside the walls of the medieval town. Then, it served as a shelter for the poor, the old, and the sick.

Initially, the hospital adjoined a chapel which belonged to the parish of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Main Town. During the 2nd half of the 15th century, the chapel was enlarged to the size of a church and converted into a chancel; it was also extended by a nave. In 1557, Protestants took over the church. In 1577, during the war between Danzig (Gdańsk) and Stephen Báthory, King of Poland, the church was almost completely demolished. Until 1596, the church was rebuilt using the preserved fragments of medieval walls. In 1592, the western tower was erected, and in 1670 it underwent alterations. In 1688, master-builder Bartel Ranisch added a north wing to the church. The wing changed the main axis of the church from the east-west to north-south, and the main altar was relocated from the chancel to the southern wall of the nave. In the 17th century and 18th century, two annexes were added to the western façade of the church, and in 1707 an external pulpit was fitted by the south wall. The eastern tower was built in 1749. A rectory was built next to the church in 1762. In the late 19th century, a Gothic Revival annex was added to the eastern wall of the chancel; the annex served as a sacristy, parish hall and the so-called winter church.

In 1762, a rectory was built in the south-western corner of the church. In the late 18th century, construction work was also carried out within the hospital. The oldest hospital building preserved to this day dates back to 1786. The hospital underwent further extension (or only alteration) in the 1860s. During that time, several new buildings were erected on the southern, western and northern side of the church. The complex adjoined a graveyard to the south and west.

In 1962, the Gothic Revival annex added to the church and hospital buildings located to the east were demolished. Since 1974, the church has been used as the Polish National Catholic Church. The former hospital buildings were adapted for housing.

Description

The complex consists of a church, graveyard, rectory and four hospital buildings. It is situated in the centre of the present-day Gdańsk. It adjoins the Grodzisko hill and fortifications situated thereon to the west, the armoury building being part of the fortifications to the south, 3 Maja Street and a railway station to the east, and green square and urban buildings to the north.

The church and hospital buildings are concentrated in the shape of quadrilateral. The church is located on the southern side. The rectory adjoins the south-western corner of the church. One hospital building (no. 21 d) is located on the western side of the quadrilateral, and two are located on the northern side (no. 21 a and b). One hospital building is situated in the middle of the complex (no. 21 c). The symbolic “Cemetery of the Lost Cemeteries” is located on the southern side of the buildings. A green area extends on the western and northern side.

The church is built of brick; the inner structure of the towers is half-timbered. As a result of several extensions, the floor plan of the building was changed to the shape of an inverted “T”. A rectangular three-bay nave (from the 2nd half of the 15th c.) and two-bay chancel closed off on three sides (14th c., 2nd half of the 15th c.) are located along the east-west axis. A rectangular two-bay wing (1688) featuring the main entrance to the building was added to the north. A rectangular sacristy adjoins the north wall of the chancel. The nave, chancel and northern wing are of the same height. The nave and northern wing are covered with gable roofs, whereas the chancel is topped by a multi-hipped roof. The sacristy is covered with a shed roof. The western tower from 1592 and 1670 and the eastern tower from 1749 are on the western and eastern edges of the building. Both towers are topped by Baroque domes. A two-storey rectory was incorporated into the south-western corner, and two, also two-storey, gable-fronted half-timbered annexes positioned adjoin the western façade.

All façades of the church are smooth, pierced by pointed-arched windows; the façades of the nave and chancel are also buttressed. The front (north) façade of the north wing is more decorative, adorned with elements in the Baroque style and reminiscent of Gothic. The ground floor features a Baroque stone portal, and in the upper part of the façade is the coat of arms of Gdańsk. The front façade is crowned with triangular pediment. The front façade and Baroque annexes are pierced by pointed-arched windows.

A crypt covered with a barrel vault with lunettes is located under the northern part of the north wing. The crypt contains coffins from the 18th century.

The interior is covered with a wooden ceiling with exposed beams. The chancel and nave are characterised by visible supports of the non-existent vaults, perches never made or destroyed and not reconstructed. The ceiling of the nave is decorated with a painted plafond made by Krystian Fryderyk Falkenberg in 1709. The most valuable furnishings include: main altar from 17th c., pulpit from 1794, baptismal font, decorative pipe organ casing in the western gallery from 1766, balustrade of the northern gallery from the late 17th c. The painting titled “Allegory of Salvation and Sin” made by Hans Vredeman de Vries in 1596 is a particularly valuable artwork.

The external pulpit was made of wood in 1707. It has a two-storey structure. The ground floor is fitted with a double-leaf door; the body of the pulpit on the second storey is crowned with a conopy. The body and both sides of the pulpit are characterised by a number of aediculae which incorporated statues of the apostles. The conopy was surmounted by a statute of a pelican. None of the statues has survived.

The so-called old rectory was built in the Baroque style in 1762. It is a brick structure covered with plaster. It was erected on a rectangular floor plan. The building is cuboid in shape, has two storeys, and is covered with a gable roof. The building has Late Baroque gables with an oval window on the axis; they are framed by a volute and crowned with a sinuous jerkin head. In addition, the façades are smooth and pierced by windows divided into multiple sections. The door arch features a keystone depicting a chalice and the date “1762”. The building has basements covered with a barrel vault with lunettes.

Building no. 21 b was built in 1786. Most of the walls feature a half-timbered structure with brick infills; the eastern part is made of brick. The building was erected on a rectangular floor plan with a slightly slanted north wall. The building is cuboid in shape, has two storeys, and is covered with a tall mansard roof with dormers. The structure is not used at present.

Buildings no. 21 a, c, d were built in 1866, 1865 and 1861, respectively, and are characterised by a uniform architectural form. Buildings no. 21 a and d (situated on the sides of the complex) were built on the floor plan having the shape of an elongate rectangle; house no. 21 c (situated in the centre) on a square plan. All buildings were built of brick and feature a half-timbered loft. They have two storeys, an elevated knee wall, are covered with a slightly sloping roof, and feature low upward extensions. Avant-corps slightly protrude from the outermost axes of the buildings. The façades are made of yellow brick and horizontal strips of red brick. The gables are fitted with decorative bargeboards. The buildings are now used for residential purposes.

Viewing of the church is possible directly before and after services.

Other structures are private property and access to them is limited. The structures can only be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Beata Dygulska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 23-09-2014.

Bibliography

  • Deurer W., Problemy historyczne i konserwatorskie jednonawowych kościołów śródmieścia Gdańska, t. 1, Gdańsk 1982, s. 98-101
  • Drost W., Kunstdenkmӓler der Stadt Danzig, B. 5, Stuttgard 1972, s. 77-98
  • Friedrich J., Gdańskie zabytki architektury do końca XVIII w., Gdańsk 1997, s. 161-164;
  • Kościelak S., Kościół Bożego Ciała, [w:] Encyklopedia Gdańska, red. naukowa B. Śliwiński, Gdańsk 2012, s. 489-490;
  • Karty ewidencyjne zabytku architektury: Zespół szpitala Bożego Ciała, opr. A. Sikorski, 2011, Archiwum NID; Kościół szpitala Bożego Ciała, ob. kościół pw. Bożego Ciała (parafia kościoła polskokatolickiego), opr. M. Janik, J. Strużyński, 1984, Archiwum NID; Dom mieszkalny, ob. plebania [dot. budynku nr 21 c], opr. E. Waśniewska, J. Strużyński, 1984-1985, Archiwum NID; Budynek szpitalny, ob. dom mieszkalny [dot. budynku nr 21 b], opr. E. Waśniewska, J. Strużyński, 1984-1985, Archiwum NID; Budynek szpitalny, ob. dom mieszkalny [dot. budynku nr 21 a], opr. E. Waśniewska, J. Strużyński, 1984-1985, Archiwum NID; Budynek szpitalny, ob. dom mieszkalny [dot. budynku nr 21 d], opr. E. Waśniewska, J. Strużyński, 1984-1985, Archiwum NID

General information

  • Type: public building
  • Chronology: 2 poł. XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: 3 Maja 19 a, 20, 21 a, b, c, d, Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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