The Holy Trinity Minor Basilica, Kobyłka
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Holy Trinity Minor Basilica



The basilica in Kobyłka is a unique work of the Late Baroque sacred architecture. Despite transformations, the temple is distinctive for its high architectural values, creatively utilising the diversity of spatial and optical illusions characteristic for the epoch. Its uncommon form and individual detail are rooted in the art of Lombardy and Bohemia. The church was assumed as a central point of the calvary complex, which reflects a coherent architectural and interior decoration programme. Valuable equipment and surroundings of the monument have also been covered by conservation policy.


The parish in Kobyłka was founded before 1415. A brick-built Holy Trinity Church was erected around 1740-1745, founded by Bishop Marcin Załuski and based on a design and constructed under supervision of a Lombardian architect Guido Antonio Longhi. The church has a single nave and a Gethsemane chapel, which opens in an arcade on the south façade, long bays on the sides and a monumental north façade with an unfinished tower. The placement of founder’s residential rooms within the temple and the application of wall paintings both inside and outside of the church was something truly unique. The author of the nave and chancel’s wall paintings, created in the years 1744-1746, was Grzegorz Łodziński. Subsequent decoration of side bays can perhaps be ascribed to Ignazio Doretti. In the years 1759-1773 the church belonged to the Jesuits and was therefore reconstructed to meet the requirements of a monastery: residential rooms over side bays at façades were added, upper parts of façades were altered. In the years 1778-1864 the church belonged to the Bernardines. In 1794 the north façade was damaged during the Kościuszko Uprising and in 1812 the church was devastated by Napoleon’s troops. Frescos in side bays were destroyed due to transforming the space into stables. Afterwards, the church underwent multiple alterations and renovations, among others in the years 1822-1823 and in the years 1833-1834. In the years 1854-1855 it underwent a full-scale restoration under the supervision of L. Bethier, as a result of which its appearance again resembled the original one. During the reconstruction in the years 1902-1906 the church obtained a three-nave plan after cutting out passages in walls between the nave and side bays. In 1944 the church suffered major damages as a result of the façade tower being blown up by the Germans. In the years 1945-1947 the feature was restored under the supervision of B. Zborowski. In the years 1947-1951 the west tower was reconstructed with changes. In the years 1957-1961 K. and W. Tiunin restored the wall paintings. Upon the initiative of the parish priest, K. Konowrocki, in the years 1971-1973 a previously non-existent south tower, modelled on the reconstructed west tower, was built. After the fire of the main altar, in the years 1971-1977 the damaged frescos and fittings were renovated under the supervision of K. & W. Tiunin, B. Zborowski and F. Dzierżanowski. Since the 1980s the restoration works have continued almost incessantly. In 2000 paintings on the east side façade were discovered and reconstructed. In 2008 the reconstructed underground part of the church with a chapel and parish museum were put into use. On 18 June 2011 the temple obtained the Minor Basilica title.


The church is situated in the north-western part of the town, previously belonging to the historical centre. It is located along the north-south axis as an extension of Napoleon Street, on the crossing of Rev. T. Zagańczyk and Rev. M. Załuski Streets. Perhaps the crosswise layout of roads (a bit blurred nowadays by two small roundabouts) represented the entire calvary complex with the Passion stations, which were removed at the beginning of the 19th century and whose culmination point was the Crucifixion and Tomb of Christ chapel, opening into an arcade on the south façade.

The church is built of brick and plastered. It has a basement and roofs covered with sheet metal. Founded on a rectangular floor plan, currently a three-nave one, in a Basilica layout, with two square towers adorning the north façade. The taller part of the building, covered with a gable roof, contains the main nave, a short chancel with an apse covered with a pseudo-cupola, a sacristy adorned with a treasury in the west and a corridor with a staircase in the east, leading to three storeys of the residential part and a square Gethsemane chapel, above which the third residential storey has been located. Along the entire length of the church, on the sides, there are much lower naves with pitched roofs.

Two façades stand out with diversity in the compact body. The north facade with a wavy line that gradually retreats towards the wider central axis; a two-storey, five-axis façade, widened by massive four-storey towers protruding to the front and narrowing upwards from their half-height. The south façade with a less dynamic line is dominated by a two-storey and three-axis central part crowned with a pronounced gable and volutes over one-storey side parts. This façade is preceded along the axis by a small porch from the 19th century, leading to the underground part. A tall archway along the axis, opening towards the chapel’s interior, along with architectural decor, is reminiscent of the triumphal arch motif. This very façade was first seen by pilgrims who approximated the temple along a wooded alley leading from Warsaw, while the widely spaced towers of the monumental north façade constituted a winged decoration. A flexible, light-and-shadow outline of both façades was achieved owing to a rich resource of forms: partition of walls by columns and pilasters - multiplied and bonded into the so-called bundles, a wavy line of plinths, lavishly broken entablature, grading of architectural orders, application of panels and openings with varied shapes (partly walled up as a result of numerous reconstructions). Bundles of pilasters with central pilasters slanted against one another represent a distinctive motif that repeats on volute-shaped façade gables. Slightly different decorative elements in upper parts of both façades, such as profiled panel surrounds, semi-gables with volute-shaped crests, probably date back to the reconstruction of approx. 1760.

Side naves’ façades are articulated by pairs of Tuscan pilasters supporting common fragments of entablature, between which distinctive, kidney-shaped window openings were located in arcaded panels. Side walls of the nave are pierced above the pilasters by openings of a different shape and size (partially walled up). Archways of the east façade include wall paintings presenting the scenes of the Passion of Christ, recently discovered.

Architecture and decoration of the temple’s interior evokes, in line with Baroque rules, a theatrical effect of optical magnification of space and entering the heavenly reality. The main nave is opening towards the side naves with three pairs of semi-circularly terminating pier archways, which initially formed niches with altars painted in the illusionist style (a surviving fragment on the south-western wall). Above the archways, there are kidney-shaped niches resulting from walling up of windows illuminating the naves’ attic in 19th century. Pilasters, slanted against one another, with bulging plinths and an architrave bestowed the nave walls with a dynamic, wavy line. Side nave walls are partitioned by pairs of fluted pilasters supporting fragments of entablature and arches of the ceiling replaced in the 20th century. Arcades located between them include paintings representing scenes from the life of Christ, while the northern walls include the same of the life of the Virgin Mary as part of illusionist altars, which were partly crowned with round windows of the façade, walled up in 1854. The Gethsemane chapel, covered with a cupola resting on pendentives and with walls articulated with arcaded niches, includes a sculptural representation of the Crucifixion.

The feature is available for visitors outside the hours of religious services.

Compiled by Małgorzata Laskowska-Adamowicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw, 07-07-2014.


  • Guttmejer K., Kobyłka Perła baroku na Mazowszu, Kobyłka 1998.
  • Guttmejer K., Guido Antonio Longhi Działalność architektoniczna w Polsce, Warszawa 2006.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, T.X. Woj. warszawskie, z. 27. Pow. wołomiński, opr. I. Galicka, H. Sygietyńska i D. Kaczmarzyk, 1969, s. 7-12.
  •  Faryna-Paszkiewicz H.,Omilanowska M., Pasieczny R., Atlas zabytków architektury w Polsce, Warszawa 2001.
  • Żabicki J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Mazowsza i Podlasia, Warszawa 2010.
  • (data dostępu: 04-07-2014 r.)

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: ok. 1740-1745
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kościelna 2, Kobyłka
  • Location: Voivodeship mazowieckie, district wołomiński, commune Kobyłka
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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