Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with cloisters and a monastery, Święta Lipka
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with cloisters and a monastery

Święta Lipka


Święta Lipka is one of the eight Baroque sanctuaries erected in the Counter-Reformation period at the borderline of Warmia. It is a prominent example of Baroque architecture together with illusionist interior wall paintings.


The church was erected in the years 1688-1693 in three phases. It was located at a place of a former chapel, which was situated at a place of cult of the Virgin Mary with its origin in Middle Ages. The architect of the structure is not known, the constructor of the church was Jezy Ertli from Śląsk, who resided in Wilno since 1670 participating in the construction of the church of St. Peter and Paul. He supervised the construction until 1692. The foundations of the church were made in 1688, the nave body with vaultings of the side naves were completed in 1691, in the years 1691-1693 the vaultings of the main nave and eastern and western façade were built. In 1692 the interior was plastered and the windows glazed. It is not know who continued the construction of the church after 1692. The church was consecrated in 1693. At that time the flooring was not laid and the fittings of the church were not executed. The cloisters were built in the years 1694-1708. To obtain the space for their erection the waterlogged terrain had to be stabilised by digging in wooden logs, and the hill neighbouring the basilica was withdrawn by several meters. During the first year of works the foundations were completed and one of the four chapels of the cloisters was erected. In 1695 the southern wing was erected as the first one. Alike in the case of church, the architect of the cloisters is not known. At their construction in 1708 the masons - Andrzej Bużyński and Andrzej Czarliński were active. Out of the planned four-wing monastery complex in the years 1695-1697 only the western wing added from the south to the church cloisters was erected. In the years 1696-1702 the works in the church interior were under way: the interior was plastered, the confessionals and side altars were performed. In the years 1722-1727 the painting decoration of the church interior was executed. Frescos were made by Maciej Meyer from Lidzbark Warmiński. The same painter together with a workshop also performed the decorations of the cupolas and two wings of the cloisters in the years 1733-1737. The complex was not destroyed during the wars. The last renovation of the structure took place in 2012. As a result of this renovation, the original colour scheme of the complex was restored, the renovation of facade sculptures, pipe organ casing and altar was performed. These works were awarded a distinction at the “Well-kept Historic Monument” contest of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in 2014.


The church is located within the area of former Duchy of Prussia, at the historic border with Warmia. It is located at the isthmus between the Wyrbiel and Dejnowa lakes. The building complex is formed by a Baroque church together with a cloister surrounding it and a wing of a monastery building added to the cloisters from the south. Basilica is made of brick, detail was made of sandstone. It was erected on a rectangular floor plan, oriented, two-tower, lavishly decorated, three-storey and three-axis facade from the west. The central part of the facade, with a niche running through the height of the second storey, in which the figure of Virgin Mary on the linden tree is placed and with a portal fastened by the columns is slightly recessed, and the towers flanking it only slightly protrude beyond the facade edge. The interior is barell-vaulted with chapels wide open to the main nave, which are the transposition of a typical Baroque church plan coming from the Roman Il Gesu basilica. One-storey cloisters, with chapels in the corners covered by a cupola, run around the basilica from four sides opening its wide arcades to the courtyard. On the southern side of the cloisters there is a two-storey monastery wing. The remaining three wings of the monastery were never executed. The church together with cloisters is decorated with unique on a national scale illusory painting. The theme of the paintings at the vault of the church oscillates around the theme of Virgin Mary. In two first bays from the altar the invocations of the litany of Loreto (Queen of Heaven, Queen of Angels) in subsequent ones: Adoration of the Lamb, prospectively drawn cupola and the martyrs. In the last bay, another illusionist cupola ceiling was drawn. In the lunettes the illusory balconies with representation of saints and prophets were placed. In side naves on the vault the scenes of the chrystologic cycle were placed, and on the walls - the cycle of Virgin Mary. The scenes around the windows of side naves refer to the history of Święta Lipka. Decoration of cloisters represents on the vault the scenes from the Old Testament, and on the walls - the illustrations to the Sunday gospel since Advent. In the chapels the frescos referring to 8 blessings, fathers of the Church, life scenes of St. Adalbert and representations of saints -patrons of the Drommler family - founders of one of the chapels, were executed. While performing the paintings their author - Maciej Meyer used the so called quadrature (painted cornices, cupolas, arches, supports and columns) and panoramic scenes, reaching to the achievements of the Italian illusionist painting (e.g. the treaties of Andrea Pozzo). The most valuable fittings of the Baroque complex in Święta Lipka are as follows: “green gate” leading to the area of the complex, executed in the years 1731-1735 by the blacksmith from Reszel - Jan Schwartz, movable organs made in 1721 by the workshop of Jan Mosengel from Królewiec, main altar executed in the years 1712-1714 by Krzysztof Peucker from Reszel, painting of the Virgin Mary in the field of the main altar comes from 1640.

The building is accessible all year round.

7:00 - 20:00 - summer season from May to September

7:00 - 18:00 - winter season from October to April

Compiled by Joanna Jakutowicz, Regional Branch in Olsztyn, 4.06.2014.



  • M. Babicka, Krużganki w barokowych sanktuariach pielgrzymkowych na Warmii, Biuletyn Historii Sztuki, 1966, R.28, nr2, s. 257-260.
  • E. Celińska, Jan Schwartz - kowal z Reszla, Komunikaty Mazursko - Warmińskie, 1969, nr 3, s. 331-345.
  • J. Obłąk, Jerzy Ertli, budowniczy Świętej Lipki, Rocznik Olsztyński 1960, s. 115-131.
  • J. Paszenda, Święta Lipka: monografia, Kraków 2008.
  • J. Poklewski, Święta Lipka. Polska fundacja barokowa na terenie Prus Książęcych, Warszawa-Poznań 1974.
  • J. Poklewski, Kościoły odpustowe na Warmii [w] Sztuka pobrzeża Bałtyku, Warszawa 1978, s. 341-355.
  • J. Poklewski, Warmińskie sanktuaria pielgrzymkowe w XVII i XVIII w. [w] Kościół i sztuka pobrzeża Bałtyku, Toruń 255-295.
  • A. Stoga, Iluzjonistyczne malowidła Macieja Meyera w Świętej Lipce i ich znaczenie w sztuce polskiej XVIII w., Komunikaty Mazursko - Warmińskie 1993, nr 4., s. 519-527.
  • A. Stoga, Quadratura w malarstwie polskim XVIII w. Malowidła na sklepieniach, Biuletyn Historii Sztuki, 1980, s. 365-376.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1688-1737
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Święta Lipka 29
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district kętrzyński, commune Reszel - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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