Complex of the cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Kielce
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Complex of the cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Kielce

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An impressive Baroque architectural complex — a dominant landscape feature of Zamkowe Wzgórze and the old city of Kielce The cathedral has a unique shape with early modern build-ups, lavish décor and consistent, late-Baroque fittings. The history of the complex and the phases of its construction are related to the operations of the Kielce chapter and the rule of bishops of Cracow.

History

The former collegial church, and currently the cathedral, was founded, according to Jan Długosz, ca. in 1171 by bishop of Cracow Gedeon. It was a small, stone, Romanesque, twin-tower church with a sacristy added to it in 1514, built in the eastern part of the current cathedral. The existing church was constructed in a couple of stages. In the late 16th century, at the initiative of bishop Piotr Myszkowski, the Romanesque church was extended. In years 1632-1635, the western part of the building was built — partially from foundations and partially the former structure was adapted for that purpose — and the church received its present form. In 1719-1728, the Romanesque, eastern part of the building was dismantled and two new bays of the nave body as well as a presbytery with an apse and side annexes were founded by bishop Kazimierz Łubieński. The work was finished under the supervision of bishop Konstanty Feliks Szaniawski, who also founded the interior fittings (inter alia with the set of altars from the workshop of Antoni Frąckiewicz) The last major change consisted in adding, in years 1869-1872, neo-Baroque gables of the façade in accordance with a design by Franciszek Ksawery Kowalski, with sculptures by Juliusz Faustyn Cengler. The steeple turret was also replaced then — with a new and fairly bigger one. In the end of the 19th century, the interior was decorated with wall painting. In the recent years, the building was renovated and its décor and fittings underwent thorough conservation works. During the works, a painting originating, according to estimates, from the 20th of the 17th century, was discovered in the northern porch. The collegiate church is surrounded by a former cemetery. Before 1630, it was partially fenced by walls. During the 20s of the 18th century, bishop Szaniawski ordered to built porches along the southern part of the walls. They led from the palace to the collegiate church and further on to the seminary. Also, he erected two stone gates — from the city, and the palace. In the second quarter of the 19 century, the land was levelled and new fencing was built; the porches were gradually dismantled. The bell tower was founded in 1642-1657 by bishop Piotr Gembicki, and in 1729, in times of bishop Szaniawski, it was extended upwards by one storey, covered with a dome, and equipped with a clock. In years 1869-1872, F. K. Kowalski converted the dome of the bell tower and installed sculptures of Evangelists by J. F. Cengler in the corners. In the 1940s, these built-ups were removed, and the Baroque style of the tower was restored. A chapel called Ogrójcowa, used as a funerary chapel, was built in 1760. It was founded by priest Józef Rogalla. In 1913, it was extended by a western apse. During renovation in 1955, frescos originating from the 18th century were uncovered and subjected to conservation works. In years 2001-2003, façades of the bell tower and mortuary were renovated, and two stone sculptures on the cemetery — of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John of Nepomuk — underwent conservation.  

Description

The cathedral complex is located on the top of Wzgórze Zamkowe, at Panny Marii Square. From the west, it neighbours the Palace of Bishops. It is Baroque in style, with neo-Baroque elements.  The central part of an elevated plateau (former cemetery) is occupied by an oriented, brick and stone, three-nave basilica, with an elongated presbytery covered with a semi-circular apse, flanked by annexes from two sides. On the top section of the roof, there is a neo-Baroque steeple. The western part of the building is plastered, and the eastern part — clad with stone ashlars. Side façades are accentuated by alternating windows with almost straight top section and Tuscan pilasters or buttresses.  The three-axial front façade is decorated with a neo-Baroque gable with lavish architectural and sculptural decoration. The eastern façade features an identical gable. Marble portals of 1632 and 1635 are preserved. Inside, the naves are separated by semi-circular arcades resting upon pillars and covered with groin vaults (in side naves, on arches). The western part of side nave bays is covered with decorative plasterwork. The whole interior is decorated with figural painting from the end of the 19th century. The lavish fittings originate mainly from the 18th century. Among its older elements, the Renaissance gravestone of Elżbieta Zebrzydowska) is particularly worth attention. In the northern façade, a marble board from the end of the 18th century is embedded, with a "primer" engraved (e.g. alphabet, truths of the faith, digits, measures, weights). The free-standing, brick and stone bell tower with three storeys protrudes afore the northern section of fencing — towards the city, and is covered with a Baroque dome. It the middle of its northern façade, there is a coat of arms cartouche of bishop Gembicki. On this side, there is a small, brick and stone Ogrójcowa chapel on a square floor plan, with a semi-elliptical porch on the east and a semi-circular apse on the west. The square of the church is fenced by a retaining wall, on which stone and cast iron bays and gates preceded by staircases are placed.  Square stone sculptures can be also found within it.

The building is open to visitors. Also the crypt and treasury are available for visiting.

Compiled by Anna Adamczyk, 14.12.2014.

Bibliography

  • Adamczyk A., Kościoły kieleckiego śródmieścia, „Renowacje i Zabytki”, nr 4, 2012, pp. 96-100.
  • Adamczyk A., Modras J., Polanowski L., Prace przy zabytkach architektury sakralnej i zabudowie miejskiej, [in:] J. Cedro (ed.), Prace konserwatorskie w woj. świętokrzyskim w latach 2001-2012, Kielce 2014, pp. 38.
  • Adamczyk A., Prace remontowo-konserwatorskie i budowlane w granicach województwa świętokrzyskiego i dawnego kieleckiego, [in:] A. Piasecka (ed.), Prace konserwatorskie w latach 1990-2000. Dziesięć lat Służby Ochrony Zabytków w Kielcach, Kielce 2001, pp. 29.
  • Adamczyk J. L., Portrety zabytków Kielc, Kielce 2004, pp. 4-6.
  • Adamczyk J. L., Przewodnik po zabytkach architektury i budownictwa Kielc, Kielce 1998, pp. 22-26.
  • Adamczyk J. L., Wzgórze Zamkowe w Kielcach, Kielce 1991, pp. 16-19, 92-99, 121.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. II: Województwo kieleckie, J. Z. Łoziński, B. Wolff (ed.), fasc. 4: Powiat kielecki, oprac. T. Przypkowski, Warszawa 1957, pp. 25-32.
  • Pieniążek-Samek M., Dziedzictwo kultury, [in:] J. Główka (ed.), Kielce przez stulecia, Kielce 2014, pp. 110-117.
  • Wojtasik Z., Zub J., Konserwacja tzw. zabytków ruchomych, [in:] J. Cedro (ed.), Prace konserwatorskie w woj. świętokrzyskim w latach 2001-2012, Kielce 2014, pp. 136-137.
  • Wróbel T., Osiemsetlecie fundacji bpa Gedeona w Kielcach, [in:] Kielecki Przegląd Diecezjalny, 1971, no 5, pp. 194-231.
  • Zdanowski J., Kościół katedralny Najświętszej Marji Panny w Kielcach, Kielce 1930.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: k. XVI w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Jana Pawła II 2, Kielce
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district Kielce, commune Kielce
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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