The Orthodox Tserkva of St Peter and Paul, Kalisz
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The Orthodox Tserkva of St Peter and Paul

Kalisz

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The orthodox tserkva of St Peter and Paul in Kalisz, built in the Romanesque Revival style, bears testimony to the multicultural history of the city and to the presence of an Orthodox Christian community there. The tserkva still serves its original purpose and remains the centre of the parish. The interior features an iconostasis and other fixtures and fittings which were moved there from an earlier tserkva. Like its predecessor, the temple was named after St Peter and Paul Apostles. Along with the Greek Orthodox cemetery near the Wrocław Toll Gate and the army cemetery in the Majków district, the tserkva of St Peter and Paul Apostles on Niecała street remains one of the most significant buildings linked to the Orthodox community in Kalisz.

History

The plans for the construction of the tservka were originally approved in November 1928.

The cornerstone for the new temple was embedded on April 7, 1929. The building was designed by Michał Zenowicz.

The construction of the tserkva took place in years 1929-1930, under the direction of engineer Albert Nestrypke. The building materials for the construction of the new tserkva were obtained from the site of an older Orthodox church built back in years 1875-77, which stood by what is now known as the Pope John Paul II Square and which was subsequently demolished.

Renovation works were carried out in the 1990s.

Description

Kalisz is the oldest city in Poland, mentioned in the works of Claudius Ptolemy written in the second half of the 2nd century, located at the eastern edge of the Kalisz Upland, by the Prosna river. The first traces of human habitation here date back to the 8th century B.C., with the first fortified settlement in Zawodzie having been built back in the 10th century. The famous amber trial led through the city of Kalisz. The new city of Kalisz was founded on its current site by duke Bolesław the Pious around the year 1257. The city was founded at the junction of crucial trading routes and has always been the second-most significant city in Greater Poland, with only Poznań surpassing it in terms of both importance and size. After 1793, the city was incorporated into the Prussian Partition, while in 1815 it found itself within the Russian territory, serving as the centre of the governorate. Until the mid-1860s, the number of Orthodox Christians in Kalisz remained low. From the mid-18th century, refugees from the Balkans - referred to as “Greeks” back then - have started to arrive in Kalisz. It was them who laid the foundations of the Orthodox community in the city. Later on, as the city was incorporated into the Congress Kingdom of Poland and became the capital of the governorate, the number of Orthodox Christians grew due to the fact that the members of the Russian civilian and military administration were all faithful to the Orthodox Church. Shortly before the onset of World War I, the Orthodox community accounted for approximately 7-9% of the permanent population. The vast majority of the members of this community were Russians.

The first Orthodox church in Kalisz was founded somewhere around the years 1818-1825 on Stanisława street, at the building formerly used as a convent of the Order of St Clare. It was known as the church of St Athanasius . The Russian garrison in Kalisz also had its own tserkva (the Tserkva of St George) from 1832 onwards, even though it was later closed when World War I was over and then the Russian soldiers left the country. In years 1875-77, a monumental tserkva incorporating numerous traits of Byzantine architecture was erected by the city square known as the Pope John Paul II Square today. The fate of the Tserkva of St Peter and Paul Apostles was sealed in 1919 when the decision was taken to dismantle the building. The demolition works were only completed in 1930; one of the crosses which had once adorned this church now stands atop the obelisk commemorating the “Millenary of the Baptism of Ruthenia, 988 - 1988”, located in the Army Cemetery in the Majkowo district.

After 1920, the interned Ukrainian soldiers serving under the ataman (a title traditionally used by Cossack chieftains) Symon Petliura arrived in Kalisz. The two internment camps existed there until 1924. It was on the site of these camps that new Orthodox churches were built - even after the camps themselves were liquidated. Even then, however, the needs of the local Orthodox community could not be accommodated without the construction of a new tserkva, the plans for which were approved in 1928. The church was finally opened in September 1930.

The tserkva is situated on the northern edge of the city park, on Niecała street; it follows a single-nave layout with a pseudo-transept and a narrower chancel with a semi-hexagonal termination. The nave features a four-sloped tented roof with a steeple at the top. The tower is topped with an octagonal tented roof crowned with a bulbous cupola with a globe surmounted by a crucifix at the top. The façades of the church are covered with plaster; the façades of the corps de logis of the building are partitioned horizontally by a stepped section of the plinth, the arcaded frieze and the crowning cornice. The two-storey façade follows a three-axis design and features an avant-corps in the lower section which incorporates the entrance door framed by an archivolt adorned with foliage and geometric ornaments. The façade, flanked by a pair of lower side extensions with blind windows, is topped with an octagonal tower. The main decorative features of the façades of both the chancel and the side extensions are the pronounced plinth, window openings and crowning cornice.

The interior consists of a nave preceded by a porch and narthex. The porch houses the stairs leading up to the choir gallery which opens up into the nave with a semi-circular arch. The interior is adorned by a wall painting incorporating Greek crosses, foliate scrollwork as well as ornamentation combining foliage and geometric elements. Depictions of the Four Evangelists are incorporated into the areas around the arches of the nave, from the direction of the chancel. The ceiling features a plafond with an image of Christ Pantocrator and a painting of the Holy Ghost in the radiant glory of winged Seraphim heads. The tserkva houses an iconostasis dating back to the fourth quarter of the 19th century, incorporating the icons of the Virgin Mary, Christ Pantocrator, St Michael and St Peter and Paul. The icon of the Virgin Mary miraculously avoided destruction during World War II, when a stray bullet penetrated the glass casing without damaging the painting itself.

The historic monument can be visited upon prior arrangement. The parish in Kalisz is one of the four parishes of the Łódź decanate - the Łódź-Poznań diocese of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

compiled by Teresa Palacz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 16-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Anders P., Województwo kaliskie, szkic monograficzny, Poznań 1983.
  • Łęcki Wł., Wielkopolska - słownik krajoznawczy, Poznań 2002.
  • Kościelniak W., Kronika miasta Kalisza, Kalisz 1989.
  • Dzieje Kalisza, Rusiński Władysław (red), Poznań 1977.
  • Dziubek A., Cmentarz majkowski w Kaliszu, [w:] Rocznik Kaliski, t. XXXV, s. 103-124, Kalisz 2009.
  • Małyszko S., Zabytkowe cmentarze przy rogatce w Kaliszu, Kalisz 2003.

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: 1929-1930
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Niecała 1, Kalisz
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district Kalisz, commune Kalisz
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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