Historical urban complex, Mikołów
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
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The urban complex of Mikołów is a unique phenomenon in the Silesian region, originally conceived in the second half of the 13th century and combining the layout of a medieval trade settlement, existing before the town itself was chartered, and the purpose-designed plan of a typical medieval town. The market square, one of the most valuable constituent parts of the urban complex, is the only surviving example of the simplest variety of a town square in the entire region, featuring two streets exiting from the square at its two opposing corners.

History

The establishment of the town of Mikołów, most likely formed in the third quarter of the 13th century, was preceded by the foundation of a medieval hillfort which had served as the seat of the local castellan. The very first mentions of a castellan’s stronghold in what would then become the town of Mikołów date back to 1222, indirectly referencing the settlement - most likely of the non-fortified variety - accompanied by the church of St Nicholas, which had stood on the site of the existing 18th-century shrine under the same invocation. This hillfort was located north of the site of the current town. It is believed that the hillfort was successfully besieged and destroyed in 1273; after that, the settlement was reconstructed on the site of the existing urban complex, bounded by streams to the west and the east. The new settlement, which was only chartered in 1547, was designed around an irregular, oval market positioned at the top of the hill, which would then go on to become the current market square. Back then, the market was merely an extension of the Cracow-Wrocław trading route leading from the north to the south. In contrast to many other similar urban complexes, the local parish church (the church of St Adalbert, initially conceived as a wooden structure) was erected in the fourth quarter of the 13th century east of the new settlement, with the current Okrzei street being most likely demarcated at the time of its construction, as a direct route between the church and the town. A suburban area known as Podfarze (literally, “Under the parish church”) has gradually formed around the building. Until the second half of the 18th century, the town did not spread beyond the boundaries demarcated at the time when it was first chartered. In 1771, the town was expanded through the incorporation of the area known as Skotnica - a swathe of land positioned to the south-east and consisting of former pastures. As a result, a number of new streets were demarcated - Skotnica street to the south, Wojciecha street to the east and Lompy street to the south-east. In addition, a connection between the market square and Wojciecha street was also added. Towards the late 18th century, the church of St Nicholas, situated on the site of the former hillfort, has ceased to exist. In 1794, the town was severely damaged by another fire which engulfed both the town hall, the infirmary, the school as well as a large number of houses; as a result, the oldest surviving buildings today are all relatively recent structures, dating back to the late 18th/early 19th century, built upon the surviving basements of older buildings. From the second half of the 19th century onwards, a tendency arose to extend the existing single-storey houses upwards as well as to add back buildings on the accompanying plots of land. In the second half of 19th century, during the period of rapid industrialisation, new districts - Reta, Kałuże, Kotulowiec and Wymyślanka - began to spring up around the town. In the year 1860, the construction of a new Evangelical church surrounded by a cemetery began on the site of the now-vanished medieval hillfort. Towards the late 19th century, the new Miarki street was demarcated, leading across the western frontage of the market square and connecting it to the railway station which was erected in the north-western part of town. During the same period, at the initiative of the Urban Improvement Society, a swathe of land leading alongside the Jamna stream was acquired and turned into a walking promenade. In the late 19th/early 20th century, a number of notable changes were made to the town’s silhouette, including the gradual upward extension of the existing residential buildings as well as the construction of new, two- and three-storey tenement houses. The most impressive and tallest buildings were constructed in the late 19th/early 20th century alongside the market square as well as the Jana Pawła II street; most of the buildings located at the outskirts of the town were single-storey structures, however, dating back mostly to the second half of the 19th century. The final significant changes to the historic layout of the town - the formation of a triangular plaza in the south-western part of the complex on the site of the demolished synagogue as well as the northwards extension of Wojciecha street - took place in the 1960s and the 1970s.

Description

The area covered by the inscription into the register of monuments consists of the oval historical town centre to the south, originally formed after the year 1273, as well as the site of the now-vanished hillfort to the north, its formation preceding the existing urban layout. The historic area of the town is bounded by the Jamna river valley to the west, the Wojciecha street to the east (replacing a now-vanished watercourse), the site of medieval barrows to the north (K. Prusa street, near Karpeckiego street) as well as the back section of the southern frontage of the market square (the section of Krakowska street between Wojciecha street and Górnicza street). The historic town stretches across the slopes of the hill falling away towards the east and the north. The historical layout of the streets as well as the divisions of some of the parcels of land are still easily discernible. The urban complex of Mikołów combines the layout of a medieval trade settlement, existing before the town itself was chartered, and the purpose-designed plan of a typical medieval town. Today, the main axis of the entire complex is Jana Pawła II street - the former fragment of the medieval Wrocław-Cracow trade route leading from the north to the south. The Okrzei street, formed back in the middle ages, branches away from the Jana Pawła street in the northern part of town, leading towards the east, to the filial church erected in the historic suburb of Podfarze and originally having the status of a parish church. The fairly irregular market square, positioned at the top of the hill, curves away slightly towards the east; the square is accessible by means of two streets positioned at the opposing corners thereof - a relic of the layout of an earlier oval market place which was originally formed as an extension of the trade route leading across the settlement. The Lompy and Stawowa streets are a later addition, having been formed in the second half of the 18th century; the same applies to the connection of the market square and the Wojciecha streets at the extension of the Powstańców Śląskich street (most likely also dating back to the 18th century) as well as the K. Miarki street (formed by cutting across the western market square frontage towards the end of the 19th century in order to create a direct connection between the market square and the railway station). In addition, historical divisions of the entire complex are still discernible in the market square area, including the southern and western frontages, whose layout, with the width of one sznur (“rope”, a medieval measurement unit equivalent to about 48 metres) has changed little since the middle ages; the eastern frontage also features a similar layout, despite having been subsequently extended towards the św. Wojciecha street. The current length of the blocks positioned alongside Jana Pawła II street is the result of 18th-century transformations of the urban complex following the formation of the Stawowa and Lompy streets. In addition, it is believed that the historic land allotment is the most clearly evident in the south-western and southern blocks adjoining the market square, even though the length of the parcels of land in this part of town has changed over time. The residential buildings preserved in the protected area form tight clusters around the market square and the Jana Pawła II, Okrzei and Lompy streets as well as (partially) in the eastern part of the complex. The buildings located around Stawowa street and at the western edge of the area, on the other hand, are less tightly spaced. Since the town was almost completely destroyed by the devastating fire in 1794, the buildings which exist today are mostly of 19th-century origins, including a few single-storey houses from the early 19th century as well as two-storey townhouses erected from the second half of the 19th century onwards, accompanied by back buildings arranged around the yards behind the townhouses themselves; many of these houses were later extended upwards and converted into tenement houses during the interwar period. This part of town no longer has a dominant feature in the form of a town hall, singe the original town hall erected in the Middle Ages or in the early modern period, located in the middle of the market square, was lost to the blaze in 1794. The town’s original parish church, first mentioned in written sources in 1287 - the church of St Adalbert - was erected in the former suburb of Podfarze, away from the historic town centre. One of the two small, historical mounds originating from the 12th-13th century are situated in the north-eastern part of the historic town complex. The part of the hill between the Evangelical cemetery and K. Prusa street, including the area surrounding the shrine of St Nicholas, had once been the site of a separate structure - a 13th-century castellan’s stronghold, chronologically preceding the urban complex to the south. Today, this area is the site of a Gothic Revival Evangelical church accompanied by the pastor’s house and cemetery, established in the second half of the 19th century.

The site is open to visitors.

compiled by Agnieszka Olczyk, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 28-04-2015.

Bibliography

  • Kantyka Jan, Targ Alojzy, Mikołów. Zarys rozwoju miasta, Katowice 1972.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, T. VI, woj. katowickie, z. 13: Powiat tyski, I. Rejduch-Samkowa, J. Samek, Warsaw 1964, p. 15.
  • Mikołów. Studium historyczno-urbanistyczne, compiled by T. Piekarz, I. Zając (Historical Monument Conservation Workshop (PP PKZ) - Rzeszów branch, Rzeszów 1985, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Katowice)
  • Prus Konstanty, Z przeszłości Mikołowa i jego okolicy, Mikołów 1997.

General information

  • Type: spatial layout
  • Chronology: 3. ćw. XIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Mikołów
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district mikołowski, commune Mikołów
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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