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Church of St Nicholas - Zabytek.pl

Tarnowo Pałuckie

woj. wielkopolskie, pow. wągrowiecki, gm. Wągrowiec-gmina wiejska

According to the latest dendrochronological and historical research, it is the oldest wooden church in Poland.

It was built in the last quarter of the 14th century. It has been preserved in a mainly unchanged form to this day. Inside, there is the most magnificent set of painted decorations, adorning the entire church interior: the main nave, the chancel, the sacristy and partially the entrance to the church in the porch below the tower.


Until the dissolution of the monastery in Wągrowiec in 1835-1836, Tarnowo Pałuckie, first mentioned in 1218, belonged to the Cistercians in Łekno. The church of St Nicholas is situated on a small hill in the centre of the village. It was built in the fourth quarter of the 14th century at the initiative of the Łekno abbots. A tower was added to the building most likely mid-17th century. In the years 1615-1616, the roof truss was replaced above the chancel, and later above the nave (1628-1629). In the years 1911-1915 and in 1922, protective works were performed at the church. In the years 1951-1952, the painted decorations were cleaned. The most recent full-scale restoration and conservation were carried out in the years 1994-2002.


The church of St Nicholas in Tarnowo Pałuckie is an oriented single-nave church with a corner-notched log structure, built on a rectangular floor plan with a narrower chancel terminating in a straight arch. A sacristy adjoins the chancel towards the north. A small porch adjoins the nave on the southern side, and on the western side, there is a tower with a post-and-beam structure and a porch at the ground floor level.The building is covered with a gable roof, and the tower with a hipped roof. The walls of the church are made of pine wood. Above the entrance from the tower porch to the nave, there is a choir gallery with a pipe organ casing, supported by six pillars, with a decoratively carved balustrade. The chancel and the main nave are separated by a semi-circular rood arch. On the beam, there is a Baroque cross and figures of Mary the Mother of God and St John. A ceiling structure in the nave and false barrel vaults in the chancel. The walls of the nave and of the chancel as well as the ceiling are covered with late-Renaissance painted decorations from ca. 1639 signed “JPW” - work of Walenty Podczosik from Kcynia. The painted decorations in the church of St Nicholas are not uniform. The majority of the decorations were likely created before 1639, but later re-decorations are also present (e.g. the balustrade of the choir gallery). Beneath the existing painted decorations, there are traces of earlier decorations. The artistic design of the painted decorations was likely the work of the Cistercians. The walls of the nave depict scenes from the lives of St Nicholas and St Margaret in a tripartite layout. In the middle of the nave ceiling, the Adoration of the Holy Trinity is painted, supplemented with coffers featuring paintings of prophets and rosettes. The walls of the chancel contain paintings with scenes from the New Testament, the ceiling is adorned with plant motifs.

Other notable features apart from the impressive painted decorations include the late-Renaissance main altar with paintings of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Nicholas and St Margaret, as well as two Baroque side altars: of St Margaret and St Nicholas. The entrance to the church has strapwork which dates back to 1493.

The church remains under the care of the Regional Museum in Wągrowiec. The church is accessible during holy masses and upon prior contact with the Museum (several days before the planned visit). The employee opening the church also performs the duties of a tourist guide.

compiled by Beata Marzęta, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 31-10-2014.


  • Kościoły drewniane Wielkopolski, Poznań 2004,
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, t.5 z. 27, powiat wągrowiecki
  • Jacek Kowalski, Podróże do dwunastu drewnianych kościółków z fotografiami Mikołaja Potockiego, Murowana Goślina 2008

Category: church

Building material:  drewniane

Protection: Register of monuments, Monuments records

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_30_BK.171951, PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_E_30_BK.134475