Orthodox church of St Alexander Nevsky, Łódź
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Orthodox church of St Alexander Nevsky

Łódź

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An example of brick tserkva architecture in Łódź. The cupolas distinctive for the Orthodox Church are accentuated with gold coating and colourful decorative elements. The interior is lavishly decorated, with spectacular, splendorous fittings. The iconostasis, floors, stained glass windows, and wall painting elements reflect influences of Byzantine and Russian art. The tserkva comes from the years 1880-1884.

History

The multi-nationality and mutli-cultural Łódź from the turn of the 19th century and early 20th century abounded with churches and cemeteries of various denominations. Among the Catholics, Evangelicals, and Jews living in the city, rare Orthodox Christians belonged to the parish in Piotrków Trybunalski, existing since 1788. The population of Orthodox Christians changed in number when after 1862 the 37th Yekaterinburg Infantry Regiment arrived to the city. The idea of an Orthodox church do be built was also facilitated by the failed assassination of Tsar Alexander II. It was decided that the Tsar’s survival will be celebrated in 1879 by construction of a tserkva.

The construction committee comprising the most prominent industrialists of Łódź such as Karl Scheibler and Juliusz Heinzl, entrusted the design of an adequately spectacular building to the long-term architect of the city, Hilary Majewski. In 1880, the design submitted by him was approved by the authorities and the work was commenced. The location of the tserkva in the vicinity of a railway station additionally emphasised its symbolic meaning associated with the Russian control.

In 1884, a parish was created. The new Orthodox church of St Alexander Nevsky, capable of accommodating 900 faithful, was consecrated by archbishop of Chełm and Warsaw Leontios.

Description

A proportionally designed, small church is built on a central floor plan. The body is covered with a cupola, and there is a square three-storey tower on the west, topped with an onion-shaped dome. External walls are partitioned by door and window openings with semi-circular end sections, stepped cornices dividing individual storeys, and decorative friezes. The 1st storey of the tower is decorated in four corners with small pinnacles ending with miniatures of the dome topping the tower. Three decorative portals with entrances to the church (main entrance, leading through the tower, from the west), are accentuated with pairs of delicate columns with Corinthian capitals and tympanums with semi-circular end sections, filled with paintings presenting Marian topics.

In open-work, gilded decorative elements of the tower dome and colourful façade and architectural details, splendour and luxuriance of the Byzantine art mixed with Russian influences is clearly visible.

The tserkva’s interior is equally spectacular. The iconostasis designed by H. Majewski, made in Saint Petersburg by Canillo, an Italian artist, is worth particular attention. Also the artists who created the wall paintings were brought from Saint Petersburg. The piers are decorated with images of saint Metropolitans of Moscow, and the pendentives of the cupola ceiling shows the Four Evangelists. In the arcaded panels between the windows, there are images of Christ, Holy Mother, and St John the Baptist.

The stained glass windows were made by a company of Adolf Seiler from Wrocław.

The colourful floor in brown, blue and yellow was laid in the form of a geometric pattern surrounded by a frame.

The entrance internal tympanums feature paintings presenting scenes from the life of Christ. From the west, there is a painting of Christ Carrying the Cross, from the south - the Entombment of Christ, and from the north - the Lamentation of Christ.

The church area is fenced. From the east, the tserkva neighbours the Stanisław Moniuszko Park (once called Railway Park). The site was significantly depleted from the west due to widening of Kilińskiego Street.

In 1980-1984, the structure and covers of roofs and cupolas were replaced, and conversation works on the wall paintings were conducted.

In the last years, comprehensive, large-scale conservation works were carried out, covering interior and exterior of the building. On the basis of original designs by H. Majewski, original colours of individual elements were restored, as well as lavish decorative gildings of the church cupola and tower dome.

The tserkva is accessible upon prior arrangement with the parish priest.

compiled by Patrycja Podgarbi, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Łódź, 22-08-2014.

Bibliography

  • Bandurka M., Rosin R., Łódź 1423-1823-1973. Zarys dziejów i wybór dokumentów, Łódź 1974
  • Ginsbert A., Łódź. Studium monograficzne, Łódź 1962
  • Sokoł K., Sosna A., Cerkwie w centralnej Polsce 1815-1915, Białystok 2011
  • Stefański K., Architekt Józef Kaban, Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki, t. XXXV, 1990, z. 3-4
  • Stefański K., Architektura sakralna Łodzi w okresie przemysłowego rozwoju miasta 1821-1914, Łódź 1995
  • Stefański K., Jak zbudowano przemysłową Łódź. Architektura i urbanistyka miasta 1821-1914, Łódź 2001
  • Stefański K., Atlas architektury dawnej Łodzi do 1939 r., Łódź 2008, s. 104
  • Strzałkowski J., Architekci i budowniczowie w Łodzi do r. 1944, Łódź 1997
  • Szram A. (tekst), Wach A. (zdjęcia), Architektura przemysłowej Łodzi, Łódź 1974
  • Urbaniak A., Śladami starej Łodzi, t. I, Łódź 1988, t. II, Łódź 1993
  • www.ap.gov.pl zakładka Wirtualne wystawy: Łódź- miasto wielu wyznań, Bazylika archikatedralna św. Stanisława Kostki "katedra"- ul. Ks. Skorupki 9
  • www.ap.gov.pl zakładka Wirtualne wystawy: Świątynie w obiektywie Włodzimierza Pfeiffera

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: XIX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kilińskiego 54, Łódź
  • Location: Voivodeship łódzkie, district Łódź, commune Łódź
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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