Parish church of St. Jacob, currently concathedral of Archdiocese of Warmia, Olsztyn
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Parish church of St. Jacob, currently concathedral of Archdiocese of Warmia

Olsztyn

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An element of an old municipal complex, example of Gothic architecture of a Warmia hall type, without separated chancel.

History

In the chartering act for the city from 1353, the parish received an endowment of six lans; its income was also derived, among other things, from the tithe. The parish was considered wealthy. The commencement of construction of the church is dated variously: before 1378 (before the borders chartered city were extended), the last quarter of the 14th century, the turn of the 14th and 15th century (before the war with the Teutonic Order), approx. 1400-1410. During the first construction stage, the walls of the body and three lower storeys of the tower were completed; the pillars between naves were not connected by arcades and the church was not vaulted. The roof over the body is dated on the basis of dendrochronological examination of roof truss beams to after 1429 (however, it could be a new roof truss after the fire in 1414). The late-Gothic vaults of the church were made before 1562, and the upper storeys of the tower were completed until 1596. In 1721, the chapels adjoining the tower were converted — stonemason Piotr Olchowski z Reszla converted their vaults into barrel vaults, among other things. A relevant inscription on a deep-beam wall notifies of that fact, another inscription inform that the church was built in 1315, which is unanimously rejected by researchers as confabulation or error in digits. In the 19th century (years 1859-1868), the heavily damaged church underwent renovation, conservation, and restoration works which were also aimed to restore its Gothic character. The conservation guidelines were prepared, among others, by Ferdinand von Quast, the national inspector for monuments conservation in Prussia, and the form in its final shape was influenced by a renown architect from Berlin, Friedrich August Stüler. In years 1998-2002, conservation works were carried out at external façades, also the roof cladding were replaced. Preserved elements of the interior fittings of the St. Jacob church include works of Gothic, late-Renaissance, and Baroque art, a large set of neo-Gothic fittings, as well as valuable works of the most recent art from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s — Among those worth attention, one can indicate, for example, the epitaph of bishop Tomasz Wilczyński, a set of stained glass windows in the church body by Hanna Szczypińska or a set of forged lamps illuminating the interior. The bronze door by Gustaw Zemło (2000) is the most recent element.Since 1610, the church had been the headquarters of the Arch-presbyterate of Olsztyn, created in that time. Since 1972, it has the function of a concathedral, and since 1992 — a concathedral of the Archdiocese of Warmia.

Description

The church of St. Jacob the Apostle is located at the eastern end of the old municipal complex, by the line of defensive walls, on a levelled area descending in slopes to the south (from which it is possible to reach the church by stairs) and east. It is not an oriented building — the chancel is directed towards the north, with a slight deviation to the east. The three-nave, six-bay church build on a compact rectangle plan whose outline includes on the one side the entrance section above the tower with side chapels (the tower is built on a square plan), and on the other side — the chancel section with sacristy on the east, occupying the last bay. From the west, there is a rectangular, neo-Gothic, entrance annex. A massive, compact shape of the church with a high tower constitutes a urban dominating point, particularly visible when viewed from the south and east on the background of the city. The body façades are of tapestry brick, regularly divided by narrow, pointed-arch windows (the arch sections were remade during the renovation period), with flat, single-step buttresses. Under the cornice below the eaves, there is a plastered band running around the body of the church, with a present-time inscription on the western façade. Over the presbytery, there is an elaborate stepped gable, divided by pillars arranged in perspective and becoming pinnacles, with spaces between them closed by pointed arches. The spaces on the axis feature plastered blind window and oculus. The tower over the southern façade of the body and over the chapels in the front façade are adjoined by gablets which are similar in form (here spaces between pinnacles are separated by a straight line, without oculi). The southern façade of the tower — the entrance façade — on the ground floor features the entrance opening on the axis, with a stepped portal — surrounds of brick archivolts of shaped sections. The upper façades of the tower are accentuated with regular rows of plastered, pointed-arch blind windows (they are paired). Up to the height of the third storey, the front façade decoration features glazed shaped sections in friezes and tracery. The high pyramidal roof features a slender neo-Gothic steeple. Inside, the church's body is divided into naves by pointed-arch arcades on octagonal pillars. Side walls of the church are accentuated by deep niches of deep arcades created by the buttresses inside. Over the main nave, there are lierne vaults, and over side naves — diamond vaults. The chapel adjoining the tower are covered with barrel vaults with lunettes. The chance section — the last bay of the middle nave — is distinguished by an elevated floor level; the sacristy is separated by low walls with a pipe organ gallery above it. Small neo-Gothic pipe organ are connected with the composer Feliks Nowowiejski, who in years 1898-1900 was the church's organist. The church's fittings in include elements from various times, and among other things, a late-Gothic tryptych with a sculpture of Holy Mary with Child assisted by St. Catherine and St. Canute the Prince (in the endings section of the left side nave), painting decoration, sacramentarium picturing the Man of Sorrows, a late-Renaissance tryptych of Crucifixion from 1575 in the right nave (transferred from the church of the Holy Cross in Olsztyn, which does not exist today), a candle holder of the Holy Virgin Mary combining late-Gothic forms with late-Renaissance ornaments, a candle holder from the end of the 16th century in shaped as a deer head, with real antlers (both candle holders can be found in the chapels adjoining the tower), a Baroque painting of Our Lady of the Rosary, a set of paintings of the Apostles on the walls of the church body, crucifix on the rood beam by Izaak Riga of Konigsberg, baptismal font, a number of neo-Gothic elements, including main altar with typological elements of the sculpture workshop of Jakob Rottermund of Nuremberg, and a stained glass window picturing the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the axis of the ending section of the chancel, according to a design by Goss brothers (Franz Goss?) from Stadtamhof near Regensburg, made by the stained glass window workshop Wilhelm Mayr and Sons (W. Mayr u. Söhne) from Rohrerhof (ordered after the previous fittings of the chancel were destroyed in fire in 1896).

The church is open for visitors.

Compiled by Joanna Piotrowska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Olsztyn, 29.08.2014.

 

Bibliography

  • Urkunden und Akten zur Geschichte der katholischen Kirchen und Hospitäler in Allenstein, hrsg. von P. Arendt (H. Bonk, Urkundenbuch zur Geschichte Allensteins, 3 Band Spezielle Urkunden, 2 Teil Kirchen, Schulen und Stiftungen, 2 Die katholischen Kirchen und Hospitäler), Allenstein 1927, s.36-37
  • H. Madej, Współkatedra św. Jakuba Starszego w Olsztynie., Olsztyn 1980.
  • A. Lesiński, Olsztyn’s cathedral basilica of St. James down the centuries, Olsztyn (2004).
  • A. Rzempołuch, Architektura i urbanistyka Olsztyna 1353-1953. Od założenia miasta po odbudowę ze zniszczeń wojennych, Olsztyn 2005, s. 24-26, 31-33, 38-39, 64-65.
  • A. Rzempołuch, Sztuka na Warmii w czasach Hozjusza i Kromera, w: Kardynał Stanisław Hozjusz. Osoba, myśl, dzieło, czasy, znaczenie, Olsztyn 2005, s. 327-366.
  • Ch. Herrmann, Mittelalterliche Architektur im Preussenland. Untersuchungen zur Frage der Kunstlandschaft und -geographie, Petersberg 2007, s. 329-331.
  • A. Domarzewski, Współczesny witraż w zabytkowych wnętrzach sakralnych, w: Witraże w obiektach zabytkowych. Między konserwacją a sztuką współczesną, Kraków-Malbork 2009, s. 211-218.
  • J. Sikorski, Olsztyńskie Stare Miasto - jak bardzo stare?, tekst dostępny online na stronie www.jerzysikorski.pl/baza-artykulow (odczyt z 29 września 2014)

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1353-1390
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Staszica 12, Olsztyn
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district Olsztyn, commune Olsztyn
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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