Franciscan monastery complex, Radziejów
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Franciscan monastery complex



The Franciscan monastery complex in Radziejów is one of the few examples of a friary of this kind located in a small town in the Eastern Kuyavia region. Despite its rather turbulent history marked by several instances of destruction and reconstruction, the monastery has ultimately attained a state of harmonious coexistence with the rest of the surrounding town, becoming an essential part of both its spatial layout and heritage, which is especially true following the most recent reconstruction works which took place in the 1930s.


In 1252, Casimir I, the duke of Kuyavia, granted his permission for the town of Radziejów to be established; in 1298, the town was officially chartered by duke Władysław the Elbow-high and enjoyed full municipal rights from that moment onwards. In years 1330-1331, Władysław the Elbow-high, who has by now become king, made a donation for the purposes of establishing a church and monastery in Radziejów, earmarked for the Franciscan friars from the city of Cracow. Towards the end of September 1331, a brick church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was erected, accompanied by wooden monastery buildings. Throughout the 14th and 15th century, both the church and the monastery have been destroyed by the knights of the Teutonic Order on several occasions. After a devastating fire which swept across the complex in 1526 or thereabouts, the wooden monastery was reconstructed once again. The church - including, in particular, the eastern façade of the chancel - was also reconstructed and received a new roof. The report from the inspection visit of the provincial superior of the Order in 1596 stated that the church had once been a truly resplendent sight to behold; however, at the time of the visit itself, the structure still lacked its vaulted ceilings, even though it was noted that it was properly secured against further damage. Only the chancel was reported to have been intact and in active use. The church had only two altarpieces at the time, both of them small and in poor condition. The wooden monastery building with its wood shingle roof cladding was likewise in a state of decay. During that period, the monastery complex included two small structures, namely the kitchen and the cowshed. When another devastating fire engulfed the town in 1610, the monastery was destroyed almost completely, with the church sustaining severe losses as well. Due to the lack of funds, only the middle section of the church has later been restored. In 1624, the reconstruction of the monastery and the church was complete. Another fire and the havoc wrought upon the town by the Swedish invaders in 1657 have resulted in both the church and the monastery being turned into ruins once again, with reconstruction works commencing one year later. Over the course of the six years that followed, the chancel was reconstructed, its vaulted ceiling now supported by ogee arches. A part of the friary has also been restored. The reconstructed nave was separated from the chancel by a rood arch, while the roof of the church was clad with wood shingles. During the 1670s, the church roof received new cladding in the form of roof tiles, with the sacristy now covered by a brick vaulted ceiling. A new pipe organ was also installed inside the church. Unfortunately, year 1701 brought about yet another devastating blaze, leading to the collapse of the brick vaulted ceilings, which were later replaced with beamed ceilings. W 1704, the Swedish armies besieged the town once again, with the monastery being burned to the ground. For the next 40 years, the Franciscan friars were forced to hold their church service inside the surviving monastery chapel. The church was finally reconstructed in 1748, while the construction of a new, wooden monastery was completed two years later. According to a description dating back to 1764, the roof of the church was clad with roof tiles. The nave features a flat, wooden ceiling, with a vaulted ceiling still present inside the chancel. Inside, the church had as many as nine altarpieces. Beneath the church there were four crypts, with one of them serving as the place of burial for the monks, while the three others belonged to the Trzanowski, Ruszkowski and Broniewski families. Next to the church stood a wooden bell tower, equipped with four bells in total. The wooden monastery consisted of three wings, their roofs clad with wood shingles. Inside the first wing, above the sacristy, there was a special monastic cell for the local preacher, with two other rooms situated right next to the sacristy.

However, the fact that wood remained, after all, a highly perishable material, ultimately led to the decision on the construction of a new, brick monastery complex. The new, brick structure also incorporated the old sacristy, positioned alongside the northern wall of the chancel. The cost of the construction of a new friary prevented any major works from being conducted at the church itself, with the exception of some conservation and renovation works. In the early 19th century, it was concluded that the wooden ceiling of the church poses a risk of collapse. Somewhere around the year 1824, a set of special supports was installed to prop up the sagging roof structure above. At that time, the church had a total of seven altarpieces. The most recent major restoration works were performed in 1857, resulting in the addition of a Gothic Revival porch positioned between the buttresses supporting the southern wall.

Before the secularisation of the Franciscan monastery, the damaged roofs have been secured by means of special supports. The active involvement of the friars in the January Uprising has led to the decision on the dissolution of the monastery towards the end of November 1864. For the next few years, the monastery stood abandoned, while in the years 1867-1871 they served as the offices of the district authorities and then as a municipal school. From 1907 onwards, the church remained under the administration of the priests from the local diocese. In 1930, the church underwent a comprehensive restoration and redesign under the supervision of the architect Jerzy Raczyński. The interiors received new, vaulted ceilings, while the side aisle was now separated from the nave by a row of pillars. In addition, the façades of the church were now graced by new gables. In 1937, the Franciscan monks have reclaimed both the monastery and the church. In September 1939, the German forces evicted the friars and converted the monastery into a staff building. Towards the end of the war, the steeple jutting above the roof of the nave has been destroyed. The Franciscans returned to Radziejów in 1945. In 1951, the roof cladding underwent renovation. In 1968, a fire broke out inside the sacristy, leading to the destruction of two monastic cells and the pre-war flooring inside the chancel.

A comprehensive renovation scheme was put in motion in the 1990s, leading to the restoration of the monastery buildings which also involved the demolition of the single-storey section of the friary positioned alongside the two-storey, shorter western wing. The demolished structures were later replaced by a two-storey wing designed to accommodate a parish auditorium and chancellery. Most of the renovation and adaptation works have been completed around the middle of the year 2000. The works conducted inside the church included the renovation of the main altarpiece of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross as well as of the side altarpieces of the Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St Anthony of Padua and St Maximilian Kolbe. The pulpit was also subjected to conservation works.

On 15.09.2014, pursuant to the decree of Wiesław Mering, the bishop of Wrocław, the Franciscan church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross attained the status of a Marian sanctuary. In 2014, a restoration of the parish church began under the supervision of the monument preservation services, resulting, among others, in the renovation of the roof truss above the chancel.


The monastery complex is situated in the north-eastern part of the original chartered town. The site of the church and monastery is surrounded by the Objezdna, Jana Pawła II, Franciszkańska and Dolna streets, which serve as the north-eastern, southern, western and northern boundaries thereof. The western boundary of the churchyard, leading alongside the Franciszkańska street, also features a brick wall with pronounced posts; a gate flanked by two smaller wicket gates is positioned in front of the church. A wooden bell tower can be seen in the south-western corner of the churchyard. The base of the slope located south of the complex, alongside Jana Pawła II street, is reinforced with a stone retaining wall above which rises a brick perimeter wall punctuated by posts capped by small, pointed rooflets. The second half of the Jana Pawła II street runs alongside an open, terraced area located where the slope begins to fall away. A brick wall with rectangular posts runs alongside Dolna street, its surface being covered with plaster along the entire monastery site.

The church itself is oriented towards the east, with the northern wing of the two-storey monastery, positioned along the north-south axis - adjoining the northern wall of the chancel. The second monastery wing is located in the northern part of the complex, with both its northern and southern façades being graced by two-axial avant-corps.

The church is a brick structure with stone foundations and a tall, pronounced brick wall base. It was initially designed as a single-nave structure with a rectangular chancel, slightly offset against the middle axis of the main body. The walls of the main body itself are reinforced with single- and two-stepped buttresses, with the upper sections of the walls originating from the 17th century, when the church was extended upwards. A Gothic Revival porch occupies the space between the buttresses adjoining the southern façade. The church, designed on a rectangular floor plan, features a distinct chancel with a rectangular end section, adjoined by an L-shaped monastery building positioned north of the church itself. The sacristy is located inside the monastery building.

The nave and the visibly lower chancel are both covered with gable roofs clad with ceramic tiles. The eastern and western gables feature decorative outlines bearing the hallmarks of the Baroque style. The building’s walls are supported by buttresses. An octagonal steeple with an arcaded openwork section, topped with a bulbous cupola, rises above the eastern part of the nave. The façades of the church are punctuated with windows framed with plaster surrounds.

The church follows a two-nave layout. The main nave is a four-bay structure, whereas the side aisle positioned south of the nave was added during the alteration works performed in 1930. The interior is divided by four monumental pillars, with a corresponding row of engaged pillars positioned alongside the northern wall.

The front (western) façade follows a single-axial layout, with the main entrance positioned between a pair of two-stepped buttresses, visibly lower than their corner counterparts and featuring a wider base. The entrance doorway, topped with a segmental arch, is set into a pointed-arch portal. A large oculus is positioned above the portal, while further above there is a large, rectangular blind window topped with a segmental arch and flanked with lesenes. The gable is crowned with a triangular pediment flanked by Baroque Revival volutes. The front façade features a pair of two-stepped buttresses at the corners, each adorned with small blind window with a plaster finish set into the surface of its lower section, above which rises a small, pointed rooflet.

The southern façade of the nave follows a four-axial layout and is supported by two-stepped buttresses with a monumental, stepped base. The upper section of the façade is punctuated by a row of oculi, with rectangular windows topped with round arches positioned directly below. A single-storey porch crowned with a triangular pediment and featuring a side entrance topped with a round arch is positioned on the second-easternmost axis of the southern façade, occupying the space between the buttresses. The entrance into the porch is flanked with a pair of smaller windows, likewise topped with round arches. The porch is covered with a mono-pitched roof partially concealed behind the pediment, with a dentilled frieze running below the eaves.

The eastern corners of the main body are reinforced with buttresses similar to those of the western façade. The chancel façade follows a two-axial layout, featuring a two-stepped buttress positioned alongside the easternmost axis.

The eastern façade has seen major alteration works in the 16th century, with its gable being adorned with a large, segment-headed blind window flanked by smaller windows, likewise topped with segmental arches. A shallow, semi-circular arch is positioned between the buttresses.

The northern façade follows a four-axial layout, with a row of oculi positioned in the upper section of the wall, between the narrow, single-step buttresses - an arrangement similar to that of the southern façade, except that no windows are present below the oculi. The northern façade of the chancel is obscured by the monastery building.

The Baroque eastern gable rising above the chancel dates back to ca. 1658, while the western gable, though likewise Baroque in appearance, was constructed in the year 1930. The Gothic entrance portal on the middle axis of the church dates back to the late 14th/early 15th century. The interior

The four-bay nave, significantly taller and wider than the chancel, is slightly offset towards the south against the middle axis of the church, with the side aisle being positioned on the northern side thereof. Inside, the church features diamond vaults from the 1930s, supported by a row of newly added pillars positioned on the southern side of the nave, while on the northern side the vault rests upon a row of engaged pillars flanking several altarpiece niches set into the wall. The chancel and the nave are separated by a pointed arch, with the arches between the nave and the side aisle as well as the altarpiece arcades following a similar design. Above the rood arch there is a Baroque crucifix from the late 17th/early 18th century. The main entrance leads through the portal in the western façade. The doors leading into the sacristy and the hallway connecting the church and the monastery are located on the northern side of the building. A single-bay vestibule and a staircase leading up to the organ gallery are positioned in the western part of the church, separated from the nave by a partition wall. On the southern side of the church there is a small, rectangular porch leading into the side aisle. The interior fixtures and fittings bear the hallmarks of the Baroque and Rococo styles and date back to the 17th and 18th century.

The monastery

The monastery is devoid of any features pointing towards a particular architectural style. It is a brick building, its walls covered with plaster. It was designed as a two-storey edifice with a basement underneath parts of its structure. The monastery was designed on an L-shaped floor plan and subsequently extended through the addition of a western annex, added in the 1990s. The first-floor level is separated from the ground-floor level by a string course.

The monastery and the church are located in the north-eastern part of the area which corresponds to the boundaries of the original chartered town. The southern part of the monastery adjoins the chancel of the church; the northern part of the building, on the other hand, features a two-storey wing extending towards the west and featuring projecting avant-corps on both sides; parts of this wing are a modern, 20th-century addition. The entire site, with the accompanying garden and utility buildings, is surrounded by a brick wall from the west, the north and the east. The surface of the wall features a plaster finish.

The interior of the monastery follows a single-bay layout, with a hallway on the western side; the staircase leading to the first floor is accessible from the hallway. The monastery features rectangular windows and doorways. The main entrance is positioned in the western façade of the northern wing; the eastern façade incorporates a doorway leading out into the garden. The northern wing features a two-axial avant-corps on both the southern and the northern side, with each avant-corps incorporating an entrance on the ground-floor level.

All sections of the monastery feature a low socle made of exposed brick. The façades are covered with plaster and punctuated with rectangular windows adorned with plaster surrounds. The area between the storeys as well as the section of the façade right beneath the eaves are accentuated by a plain, plasterwork frieze, its smooth surface painted in a lighter colour than the rest of the façade.

The northern wing (the western façade of the friary) follows a four-axial layout with the entrance positioned on the second-southernmost axis. The eastern façade follows a nine-axial layout.

The western wing (the southern façade of the monastery) follows a six-axial layout, with an avant-corps positioned on the second- and third-easternmost axis. The avant-corps, topped with a triangular gable, features an entrance on the ground-floor level, protected from the elements by a small, gable rooflet. The western façade follows a single-axial layout. The northern façade has an eight-axial layout, with a pseudo-avant-corps on the fourth and fifth axis (counting from the east). Flat ceilings are used for all the interiors of the monastery. The entire structure is covered with multi-faceted roofs and clad with ceramic roof tiles.

The monument is open to visitors. Viewing of the church is only possible by prior telephone appointment.

compiled by Mirella Korzus, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 26-11-2014 - 8-11-2014.


  • Record sheet, Franciscan church, compiled by Iglewska M., 1992, Archive of the Regional Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments in Włocławek; Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw.
  • Record sheet, Franciscan monastery, compiled by Iglewska M., 1992, Archive of the Regional Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments in Włocławek; Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw.
  • Piasecki J., Opisanie kościołów i klasztorów oo. Franciszkanów. Warsaw 1845
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, vol. 11, issue 17, Warsaw 1953, pp. 17-19.
  • Arszyński M, Rejmanowski M., Zabytki architektury i budownictwa w Polsce, issue 2, Warszawa 1972, p. 53
  • Danielewicz J., Dzieje Radziejowa Kujawskiego, Bydgoszcz, 1982
  • Szteinke A., Klasztory franciszkańskie na Kujawach wschodnich i w ziemi dobrzyńskiej od XVI do XIX wieku. (in:) Zapiski Kujawsko-Dobrzyńskie, no. 22, pp. 49-74, 2007.

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1331 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Franciszkańska 4, Radziejów
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district radziejowski, commune Radziejów (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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