Białogard – church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

History

   The church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Białogard was built at the beginning of the fourteenth century. However, it was a place of worship before – a pagan shrine, and then a chapel, built by Saint Otto of Bamberg in 1124. In the first stage, the chancel was erected, then the nave corpus and the lower part of the tower. Its construction was completed at the beginning of the 16th century The building was destroyed many times by fires, due to which it had to undergo a thorough restoration after 1890, when the vaults of the nave, cornices, friezes and roofs were renovated and the interiors were regothisated.

Architecture

   The church was erected in the north – eastern part of the town market. Like most medieval churches, it was erected as an orientated building on the wast-west line. It received three, four-bay naves, made of bricks of the monk bond, on a granite foundation. From the west a four-storey tower was built on a square plan, from the east a three-bay chancel with a polygonal closure, on the north side of the presbytery a sacristy, and on the western bay of the northern aisle a chapel.
   The nave and chancel received similar height and width, but in the roof part they were separated by a gable. Significantly lower lateral aisles were covered with mono-pitched roofs, but originally they were probably more steep (their height is determined by the half-gable at the level of the southern aisle). The walls were covered with massive buttresses, between which large ogival windows were placed in the reveals profiled with rollers. Buttresses on the walls of the central nave were reduced to flat lesenes. The horizontal articulation of the elevation is made of cornices at the height of window sills and a frieze under the eaves. A special decorative element is a rectangular niche in the eastern wall of the chancel, framed by an ornamental frieze in the form of a floral tendril, composed of rectangular tiles. The elevations of the tower were divided into four floors with straight cornices. Its large surfaces of brick walls dominate over a few decorative elements. In the ground floor on the west side there is a stepped portal, and above the high ogival windows from the front and sides.
   Inside, the stellar vault of the central nave and side aisles is supported by octagonal pillars, connected by ogival, profiled arcades. The stellar vaults also crown over a presbytery, sacristy and the northern chapel. The walls of the chancel were divided into two zones with a prominent cornice and frieze with a floral tendril – analogous to that outside the eastern wall. The lower plinth zone was divided by a series of pointed arch recesses, and a decorative portal to the sacristy was placed in the western bay from the north. In the upper, window storey, the boundary of the bays was marked with profiled pilaster strips, to which the shafts of ancillary columns were applied from which the beams of ribs raise. In the naves the pillars were equipped with corner, roll profiles, plinths and impost cornices. Above the last ones on the walls of the central nave, up to the vaults run lesenes with identical profiles as at the corners of the pillars, which gives the impression that the lesenes are their extension. This suggestion is reinforced by ancillary columns running from the floor to the base of the vault. In the aisles, semicircular niches in the lower zone and large windows above are arranged in pairs. The vault corbels were placed on the lesenes and the pillars between the aisles.

Current state

    Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, belonging to the group of basilic parish churches of Central Pomerania (Koszalin, Słupsk, Sławno, Darłowo), stands out in artistic terms. Unfortunately, due to numerous fires, none of its original, medieval equipment has survived. The church fulfill liturgical functions.

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bibliography:
Jarzewicz J., Architektura średniowieczna Pomorza Zachodniego, Poznań 2019.

Pilch J., Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012.