Cemetery church, currently serving as the auxiliary church of St Barbara, Międzylesie
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Cemetery church, currently serving as the auxiliary church of St Barbara

Międzylesie

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The ancillary church of St Barbara in Międzylesie presents a significant research and historical value, being one of the few examples of Gothic Revival architecture from ca. 1600, with a Late Renaissance structure still identifiable at its core. In addition, its artistic value remains significant today, including, in particular, the painted interior decorations of its interior. The church interior also houses a Neoclassicist tomb of Joseph Christoph Ludwig (died 1810) - trade counsellor and the most eminent mercer in Międzylesie - and his wife; the tomb, adorned with sculpted busts, presents an substantial artistic value today, being one of the few surviving examples of sepulchral art of this type in the Kłodzko Region today.

History

During the Reformation period, the Catholic community of Międzylesie lost the church of Corpus Christi to the Protestants, being left with only the cemetery in Przedmieście Kłodzkie (Kłodzko Suburb) area. It was there that they chose to erect a new church in 1617; much like the new Protestant church in Międzylesie, it was also designed in the Late Renaissance style with Gothic Revival influences. These features were a manifestation of an ideological and artistic trend prevalent in architecture around the year 1600 as well as the deliberate decision to include in its design certain elements that had been perceived as archaic at the time. The Catholic church of St Barbara was smaller than the local Protestant church; originally a single-tower or towerless design, the church featured a tall nave most likely intended to house large, two-storey galleries; the chancel was adjoined by an annex with a patrons’ gallery on the first-floor level. Inside, the church featured wooden ceilings which had most likely been adorned with painted decorations. The Gothic references included in the design included the juxtaposition of a tall nave and much lower chancel, the presence of buttresses supporting the chancel walls as well as the use of pointed-arch windows with splayed window reveals on both sides. The chancel windows were framed with profiled stone surrounds. In 1643, during the Thirty Years’ War, the church was destroyed. It was destined to remain abandoned for a long time, since the local Catholic community has taken over control of the former Protestant church. It was only in 1670 that the necessary works were performed, although the appearance of the reconstructed church was austere at best. The tower adjoining the front façade was either constructed from scratch or extended upwards, receiving a bulbous cupola at the top. A two-storey annex, possibly containing a new patrons’ gallery, was added to the southern side of the chancel. Both the nave and the chancel received new, flat ceilings. The former Catholic church of St Barbara was initially accorded the status of a cemetery chapel and then of a cemetery church. The church underwent renovation works on several occasions throughout the 19th century, including in 1804, 1844 and ca. 1880-1910. During the latter phase of reconstruction works, minor alterations were introduced; in addition, the interior received Historicist painted decorations with Renaissance Revival, Neoclassicist and Baroque Revival influences.

Description

The cemetery church of St Barbara is located north-east of the market square. It is oriented towards the east, its walls made of brick and stone and covered with plaster. The church features a visually distinct chancel with a semi-hexagonal termination, reinforced with buttresses, as well as a significantly taller nave, a four-storey western tower and two annexes adjoining the chancel. The tower cupola features a roof lantern on top. The chancel and the nave have separate roofs. The façades of the church feature no decorative articulation whatsoever, with only the bottom plinth introducing an element of variation to the otherwise plain walls. Only the tower features a profiled crowning cornice. Both the pointed-arch windows of the chancel and the two pointed-arch entrances - in the chancel and in the tower - are framed with profiled stone surrounds. The nave and the chancel feature flat ceilings clad with wooden boards. In the western part of the nave there is an organ loft and side galleries supported by pillars in various shapes and sizes, some of them following a slightly bulging outline, while others feature impost blocks at the top, with their overall design being influenced by wooden vernacular architecture. The interior of the church is graced by painted decorations dominated by brown and yellow shades, with grey and blue additions. The chancel walls are adorned with painted faux stone cladding, while a frieze with acanthus motifs and panels adorned with rosettes runs beneath the ceilings of both the chancel and the nave. The window niches are adorned with decorative panels and Regency ornaments. Painted panels with portrayals of angels grace the underside of the rood arch, while the front part of the said arch is decorated with panels incorporating scenes from the Gospel (The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter and The Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain). The decorations which grace the ceilings of the chancel and the nave follow a uniform, Renaissance Revival design, with coffers separated by moulded bands. The intersections of these bands are accentuated with suspended, wooden rosettes - a motif derived from the so-called Berlin school of interior design of the third quarter of the 19th century. The coffers themselves incorporate panels painted using the chiaroscuro technique, with rosettes set against a yellow or grey-blue background. The organ loft and the galleries feature solid parapets which are also covered with painted decorations incorporating various references to the themes presented on the polychromed ceiling. The primary decorative motifs applied are panels adorned with rosettes and laurel wreaths. Decorative fretwork boards influenced by folk art run at the bottom of the parapets. The fixtures and fittings of the church include the Baroque main altarpiece (1741), made by the sculptor Antoni Nitsch from Międzylesie and the carpenter Joseph Schram, the side altarpiece designed in a mixture of the Baroque and Rococo styles as well as the pipe organ casing from the 2nd half of the 18th century; another item which is worth mentioning at this stage is the Historicist pulpit from the fourth quarter of the 19th century.

The building is available all year round; interior tours upon prior telephone appointment.

compiled by Iwona Rybka-Ceglecka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 20-08-2015.

Bibliography

  • Bach A., Urkundliche Kirchen-Geschichte der Grafschaft Glatz, Breslau 1841.
  • Berger A., Eine Übersicht über die Pfarreien und Kuratien der Grafschaft Glatz betreffend die Zeit von 1841-1946, Kirchlengen, Kreis Herford 1961.
  • Brzezicki S., Nielsen Ch., Grajewski G., Popp D. (ed.), Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006
  • Lutsch H., Verzeichniss der Kunstdenkmäler der Provinz Schlesien, Die Kunstdenkmäler der Landkreise des Reg.- Bezirks Breslau, Breslau 1889, Band II
  • Patzak B., Mittelwalde im Kreise Habelschwerdt, Guda Obend 1931.
  • Słownik geografii turystycznej Sudetów, Vol. 15, Kotlina Kłodzka i Rów Górnej Nysy, Wrocław 1994.
  • Volkmer, Hohaus, Geschichtsquellen der Graffschaft Glatz, Dritter Band, Constitutiones Synodi Comitatus Glacensis in causis religionis, 1559, Die Dekanatsbücher der Christophorus Neaetius 1560 und des Hieronymus Keck 1631, Habelschwerdt 1884.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: J. Słowackiego , Międzylesie
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district kłodzki, commune Międzylesie - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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