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Łowicz - Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Łowicz
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Łowicz - Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary



Łowicz, a town situated on the Bzura river, 80 km to the west from Warsaw, was owned by archbishops of Gniezno (who later became the primates of Poland) from the 12th century onwards; from the 15th century until the end of the 1st Republic of Poland it remained their main place of residence. In 1355, archbishop Jarosław Bogoria Skotnicki started the construction of a castle where the church dignitaries would live. After obtaining municipal rights (before 1298), the town experienced a period of rapid development, owing to privileges granted both by the king and by the primates. Church synods took place in Łowicz, during which decisions were taken about the most significant matters of the Church and the Polish state; it was here that the interrex entertained members of parliament of the Republic of Poland and it was here that kings came to participate in pilgrimages. The great expanses of land forming part of the town of Łowicz, distinguished by the less onerous feudal duties (socage) imposed on the local serfs, have flourished from the 16th century onwards, their unique character finding an expression in the form of local folklore.

On the Old Market Square in Łowicz there is an impressive cathedral basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the former primate collegiate church which later became a burial place for twelve Gniezno archbishops. It is an unusual temple in which the highest spiritual rank is combined with the utmost quality of craftsmanship and architecture. Originally a wooden church and subsequently replaced by a brick edifice in the Gothic style, the church was damaged during the fire which swept through the town in 1525. The existing, Baroque temple was erected in the 17th century and was based on the earlier building which was extensively modified in the process. Works started with the construction of two towers in the Late Renaissance style in the western part of the temple. Afterwards, with the participation of Tomasz Poncino, and later his brother Andrzej, walls of the building were extended upwards, and a Baroque façade was constructed between the towers.

The interior of the building, covered with a groin vault supported by arches, is accentuated by tall arcades supported on pillars separating the main nave from the aisles. The monumental architectural plasterwork decoration (the frieze on the entablature running along the perimeter of the nave and chancel, the capitals of the pilasters, the cartouches over the arcades) was created by John the Baptist Falconi. Of special value is the outstanding complex of tombstones, gravestones and epitaph plaques, among which the grave of primate Jacob Uchański deserves a particular mention (headstone made in 1580-1583 by Jan Michałowicz from Urzędów), originally located in the chapel of St Victoria of which he was the founder. Additionally, the church also houses a treasury and a capitular library with precious collections, including a collection of antique prints.

The subsequent primates took care of the temple and decorated it in accordance with the fashion prevailing in their times. An impressive cast of the most eminent artists of the Old Polish times that passed through what would initially seem to be a mere provincial town is therefore hardly surprising. The most eminent artists operating in the territory of the Republic of Poland in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries participated in the extension of the collegiate church as well as in the execution of the gravestones located in the church yard. Apart from those already specified above, the following deserve a mention: architects - Tylman from Gameren, Efraim Schroeger, Karol Bay, sculptors - Abraham van den Blocke, Wilhelm Richter, Jan Jerzy Plersch, Hieronim Canavesi, stucco decorators - Jan Michał Graff, Józef Pechner, painters - Adam Swach, Szymon Czechowicz. None of them had the courage to refuse an offer made by the primates of Poland.

The basilica survived in an unchanged state until the 20th century. It was only in 1939 that the church suffered damage as a result of wartime hostilities. After the war, its roof, the domes crowning the towers as well as the pipe organ casing were reconstructed. A classicist belfry designed by Szymon Bogumił Zug is located in the close vicinity of the cathedral, in a yard circumscribed by a wall, standing alongside the eastern section thereof.

General information

  • Type: ecclesiastical complex
  • Chronology: XV - XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: Historical Monument
  • Address: Plac Stary Rynek , Łowicz
  • Location: Voivodeship łódzkie, district łowicki, commune Łowicz (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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