The Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral Basilica, Płock
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The Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral Basilica

Płock

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The basilica presents historical and artistic values. It is one of the oldest Polish sacred buildings. The feature underwent numerous alterations and now it presents elements of three architectural styles: Romanesque (arrangement of the apse, trimmed stone used as a construction material), Gothic (towers, buttresses, gables) and Renaissance (cupola ceiling with a lantern). The temple is a place where two Polish kings were buried: Władysław I Herman and his son Bolesław III Wrymouth as well as fifteen Dukes of Mazovia.

History

The first wooden church was erected in Płock soon after the establishment of a diocese in 1075. Fully wooden, it stood only for half a century. In 1136, the Bishop of Płock, Aleksander of Malonne, began the construction of a stone temple, which was consecrated in 1144. It was then the famous two-wing door of the Płock type was manufactured in Magdeburg. However, in unclear circumstances, they found their way to the St Sophia Cathedral in Nizhny Novogrod (Russia) two centuries later.

In the 13th century the cathedral suffered multiple fires and ravages, therefore it required renovation. Gothic towers were built at the turn of the 13th and 14th century. Only from the mid-16th century did the building enjoy its blooming age again. In this period, the temple was demolished to foundations and re-erected in the Renaissance style. Under the guidance of Giovanni Cini of Siena and John Baptist of Venice, an octagonal cupola with a lantern was erected, the chancel was extended and two rooms with two floors for sacristy, treasury and chapter house were annexed to the chancel on both sides. In 1787, as a result of alteration carried out by Domenico Merlini, the front façade obtained a Classicist look.

In the first years of the 20th century, during the general renovation guided by Stefan Szyller, the Renaissance character of the temple was restored. It was then, among others, a new, brick choir gallery was built and the interior was enriched by a Renaissance Revival wall painting by Władysław Drapiewski. During World War II the Nazis bombed the St Sigismund chapel and damaged the side nave vault; later on, they arranged the space to serve as a furniture warehouse. After a necessary renovation, in 1966 the cathedral became a place where the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland was celebrated.

Description

The cathedral is a three-nave building with a transept and chancel terminating in a semi-circle, with four side chapels: royal, the Holy Family (the Sierpski family), the Most Blessed Sacrament and St Sigismund.

The facade was adorned with, among others, four coats of arms of bishops in the gable - initiators of reconstruction of the cathedral, and a bronze relief presenting the offering of the temple to the Holy Mother of Mazovia (1902).

The cathedral’s interior was designed in the early 20th century by Stefan Szyller. It includes, among others: a Renaissance Revival altar, choir stalls and the bishop’s throne in the chancel as well as a pulpit and organ. Painted decorations were created by Władysław Drapiewski and Czesław Idźkiewicz. The naves include scenes from the New Testament, a panorama of Płock and portraits of persons who rendered meritorious service for the city. The chancel includes portraits of the Holy Mother, 28 saints and blessed and a scene “Finding Christ in the Temple”, which also presents ideologues of the Positivist era related to Mazovia.

The underground part, adjacent to the northern nave of the Royal Chapel, includes tombstones of the kings of Poland: Władysław I Herman and his son Bolesław III Wrymouth, as well as Dukes of Mazovia and Płock, buried here between the 12th and the 15th century. The central point of the chapel includes a Classicist sarcophagus of black marble, lavishly decorated with national emblems, designed by Zygmunt Vogel.

A copy of the Romanesque two-wing door, the so-called Płock door, manufactured in 1981, is located between the porch and the main nave. It comprises 48 gunmetal plaques with reliefs presenting scenes from the Old and New Testament, allegories and images of the founder (bishop Aleksander of Malonne) and the builders. The original Płock door is approx. 20-30 years older than the Gniezno door.

The northern nave includes altars of St Stanisław Szczepanowski, the Heart of Jesus and the Holy Mother of Mazovia. The southern nave includes altars of the Crucified Jesus, St Stanisław Kostka and St Teresa of the Child Jesus. Due to their lavish decorations, the gravestones of, among others, Bishop Jan Cielecki (17th century), Voivode of Płock Stanisław Krasiński (17th century) and a monument of the Bishop of Płock Piotr Dunin-Wolski (late 16th century) deserve attention.

The feature is open to the public.

Compiled by Bartłomiej Modrzewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw, 7-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • T. Glinka, M. Kamiński, M. Piasecki, K. Przygoda, A. Walenciak, Mazowsze północne. Przewodnik, Warszawa 1998.
  • Przewodnik. Płock i okolice, red. K. Strumińska, S. Płuciennik, Płock b.r.
  • Z dziejów katedry płockiej, Katedra płocka, http://www.katedraplock.pl/idcat.php?f_id=94&f_id_cat=93, dostęp: 7 października 2014.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1130 - 1144
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Tumska 1, Płock
  • Location: Voivodeship mazowieckie, district Płock, commune Płock
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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