Kamień Pomorski - Cathedral Complex, Kamień Pomorski
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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On the banks of the Kamień Lagoon, which separates the Island of Wolin from the mainland, lies one of the oldest towns in Western Pomerania. It takes its name (Kamień or Camin, meaning ‘stone’) from the huge boulder which lies at the bottom of the River Dziwna and serves as a landmark for sailors. In the 9th-11th centuries Kamień Pomorski was a Slavic stronghold, whose population was converted to Christianity in 1124 by Bishop Otto of Bamberg. After Wolin had been destroyed by Danish invasions, the seat of the bishopric was transferred in 1176 to Kamień, which had developed into a dynamic settlement during the 12th century, becoming for a time the political centre and capital of the Duchy of Pomerania. This was made possible by the generosity of Duke Kazimierz I, who endowed the bishopric with land and financed the construction of a cathedral and its precinct buildings. The episcopal settlement (c. 2.80 hectares) was located between the stronghold and the market square, near the Church of St Giles, founded at the time of the Christianising mission. In 1274 the early medieval settlement of Kamień was granted civic rights; this led to the creation of a new town plan with divisions into districts and streets, the whole urban unit being enclosed by defensive walls which separated the city from the cathedral settlement. In the late 12th century, canon’s residences of traditional timber-frame construction began to be built around the cathedral. In the 15th century the bishop’s manor and the deacon’s house were built in brick. In the first half of the 16th century Lutheranism prevailed in Pomerania. In 1544-1648 the site served as the seat of the Lutheran bishops, and later, up to 1812, as the Lutheran Chapter.

The cathedral, a work in progress from 1176 to the mid-15th century, was built in brick and granite ashlar, taking the form of a three-aisled basilica with transept, a chancel terminating in an apse, a bishop’s chapel and chapter house, with a monastery garden bordering the south aisle. Details made in glazed terracotta and the innovative forms of corbel-courses and capitals suggest that builders for this project were brought to Kamień from northern and western Europe. The west end of the cathedral, the nave and the viridarium were completed in 1308 in high Gothic style. The vaults above the south aisle were installed at the beginning of the 15th century; at this time the elevations of the nave were also remodelled, providing it with triangular gables filled with rosettes and wimpergs made of glazed bricks. A storey added above the eastern cloister in the 14th century housed the rooms of the former scriptorium. The cathedral’s rectangular tower, raised in the 14th century, was comprehensively remodelled in the 19th and 20th centuries. The interior boasts works of art commissioned from the medieval period up to the 20th century. Romanesque and Gothic carved architectural details are represented by the portals and bosses. The remains of polychrome figural and plant motifs of the 13th and 14th centuries are of particular merit. Medieval features include the late Gothic main altar, the polyptych depicting the Assumption and scenes from the martyrdoms of St John the Baptist and St Faustyna, two wooden crucifixes, a statue of St John the Evangelist, two stone baptismal fonts and 12 tombstones of church dignitaries. The most precious artefact is the mystical crucifix from the turn of the 13th century, on display at the National Museum in Szczecin. The Lutheran period is represented by Baroque works such as the Ecce Homo altar, the rood screen with paintings by Heinrich Redtel, the grille alongside the font featuring personifications of Christian virtues, the Crucifixion group, the pulpit and the finest of the Baroque fixtures - the organ. This instrument was made in 1669-1672 by the Szczecin organ builder Michael Beringel; the decorative organ front was made at the woodcarving workshop of Martin Edleber.

The cathedral in Kamień and the components of its precinct constitute one of the most important complexes of historic buildings in Pomerania, Poland and the Baltic region. Its merit lies in the quality of its architecture and works of art produced by generations. A number of historic events relating to Kamień Pomorski are also of significant rank, prime among them being the establishment of a bishopric whose influence extended to almost half of the Baltic coast.

General information

  • Type: ecclesiastical complex
  • Chronology: koniec XII - XV w.
  • Form of protection: Historical Monument
  • Address: Kamień Pomorski
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district kamieński, commune Kamień Pomorski - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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