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The complex of chapels accompanying the parish church of St Mary Magdalene, consisting of the chapel of St Barbara, the chapel of St Francis Xavier and the Memento Mori Chapel of the Dead, Gorzanów
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The complex of chapels accompanying the parish church of St Mary Magdalene, consisting of the chapel of St Barbara, the chapel of St Francis Xavier and the Memento Mori Chapel of the Dead



The chapel of St Barbara is a design of an outstanding artistic value, its stylistic features corresponding to those of other works created by the architects from Northern Italy who remained active in Gorzanów at the time, such as the church, the castle and the garden pavilion otherwise known as the grotto. The chapel also remains one of the most important structures forming part of what is the only Early Baroque complex of its kind which survives in the Kłodzko Region today. The two remaining chapels, on the other hand, are examples of structures created in the course of extension of the church complex, their form corresponding to the existing structures which, it is believed, was a sign of appreciation of the aesthetic value thereof.


In the years 1651-1725 or thereabouts, three chapels were successively erected alongside the wall surrounding the church of St Mary Magdalene in Gorzanów (→kościele par. pw. Św. Marii Magdaleny w Gorzanowie) and the accompanying cemetery, the chapels in question being the chapel of St Barbara, the chapel of St Francis Xavier (known today as the chapel of Our Lord Jesus Christ) and the Chapel of the Dead, also known as the Memento Mori chapel. The Chapel of St Barbara was erected in 1651 at the initiative of count Johann Friedrich von Herberstein; one may not rule out the possibility that this chapel may have been also originally envisaged as a family tomb chapel. This facts which may support this theory is the presence inside the chapel of two monolithic, stone slabs adorned with Early Baroque detailing, including representations of the founder’s family crest. The front façade of the chapel is pierced with three entrances and a pair of oval oculi, with the overall arrangement being reminiscent of a triumphal arch. Both the chapel’s façade and interiors are adorned with lavish decorative plasterwork, including painted plafonds. The chapel of St Barbara was erected by the builders employed at the Prague enterprise of the architect Carlo Lurago, who came there from Northern Italy. The second chapel - the chapel of St Francis Xavier - was erected in 1701; since it was intended as a counterpart to the chapel of St Barbara, one will readily find numerous similarities between the two in terms of scale, outline and overall design of both the façade and the various decorative flourishes applied. Some of the decorative motifs present of the chapel of St Barbara were also used on the chapel of St Francis Xavier; however, the plasterwork ornaments are relatively flat compared to the original, while the cartouche and the window surrounds show clear influences of the late 17th-century/early 18th-century architecture and decorative arts. The chapel of St Francis Xavier - much like the Memento Mori chapel - is the work of the local builders and plasterworkers. According to the local traditions, the chapel allegedly served as the final resting place for the victims of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the subsequent epidemic. However, one may not exclude the possibility that the chapel also served as an ossuary, i.e. the place used for the purposes of storage of exhumed remains that were being excavated as the amount of available space in the small cemetery was gradually decreasing. The Memento Mori chapel, in its current form, was most likely designed during the first quarter of the 18th century as a small niche chapel which represents a transitional phase in Baroque design that occurred between the Early Baroque period and the period when Baroque design has come of age. The design of the chapel also incorporates the Early Baroque cartouche and drapery motifs reminiscent of those present on the façade of the neighbouring chapel of St Barbara.


The chapel of St Barbara, designed in the Early Baroque style, is a stone building with walls covered with plaster. It was designed on an elongated hexagonal floor plan. It is a tripartite structure with a flat roof concealed behind a roof parapet in the form of a balustrade. The front façade features three entrance doors and a pair of oval oculi and is partitioned with pilasters supporting the entablature above, their arrangement being atectonic in nature. The windows and doors are adorned with plain surrounds, with the main entrance being surmounted by a lavishly designed cartouche. The interiors of the chapel feature vaulted ceilings of the cross-rib type. The walls are adorned with plasterwork decorations in the form of medallions, garlands, draperies hanging down from festoons as well as putto busts. The interior window and door surrounds are highly ornate in nature, incorporating cartouches and decorative panels. The groins are accentuated with roll-mouldings made up of laurel leaves, with ornate rosettes replacing the usual keystones. The surface of the vaulted ceiling is adorned with cartouches which incorporate painted plafonds. All plasterwork decorations are in relatively high relief. The chapel features original wooden planked doors with door knockers. The chapel of St Francis Xavier is outwardly similar to the chapel of St Barbara, albeit with a more modest façade décor and plain interiors devoid of the decorative opulence of its earlier counterpart. The Memento Morii niche chapel is a stone structure with a plaster finish, designed on an irregular quadrangular floor plan. The front façade consists of a blind window and a deep, vaulted niche, with a segment-headed pediment providing the finishing touch. The façade is partitioned with lesenes which support the entablature above, their arrangement being, once again, atectonic in nature; the decorative flourishes include cartouche, drapery and acanthus motifs as well as human skulls - the symbol of mortality and death. The interior of the chapel is protected against unauthorised access by a wrought-iron grillwork from the late 19th century.

The building is available all year round; interior tours upon prior telephone appointment.

compiled by Iwona Rybka-Ceglecka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 30-06-2015.


  • Brzezicki S., Nielsen Ch., Grajewski G., Popp D. (ed.), Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006
  • Kögler J., Historische Beschreibung der Pfarrei Grafenort, 1807, Vierteljahrschrift für Geschichte und Heimatkunde der Grafschaft Glatz, Bd. VII, 1887/8.

General information

  • Type: chapel
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kłodzka , Gorzanów
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district kłodzki, commune Bystrzyca Kłodzka - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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