Brzeg – St Nicholas church

History

    The gothic church of St. Nicholas in Brzeg was erected in the years 1370-1417 in the place of an older brick temple, which is mentioned in the sources in 1279. St. Nicholas‘ church is one of the largest gothic basilicas in Silesia, the financing of which made possible the wealth of the bourgeois townsmen and the help of the prince. Town councilors ordered a project from the master of Wrocław, Gunther, who repeated the scheme of Wrocław churches: St. Mary Magdalene and St. Elizabeth. The main construction work on the temple was completed around 1417. Yet, in 1420, the northern porch was added, then in 1506 the chapel of St. Anna and in 1625 the sacristy. In the nineteenth century, the temple was extended according to the design of Karl Luedecke, the towers were then raised and the gallery was added. In 1945, the church was fired. The upper parts of the towers and part of the nave vault collapsed, and during the fire the equipment burnt down. Due to the destruction, church was not used for several years, until it was renovated in 1959-1966.

Architecture

    The church has the form of a three-nave basilica with an elongated corpus, devoid of division into a choir and a nave part. From the eastern side, the chancel is ended with three sides, and the north and south aisles have straight walls. On the north side, in the central part of the corpus, a four-sided chapel of St. Anne along with the utility room and four-sided porch were added. On the southern side, from the height of the third span, two-storey sacristy with a knight’s room on the first floor, three-side ended chapels of St. Barbara and St. Catherine and porch were created. On the west side there are two four-storey towers connected by a gallery. Between them, in the ground floor, there is an ogival, two-story, stone portal with tracery decoration and pinnacles. Above the portal there is a large ogival window and its crown has a triangular top.
     
The slenderness of central nave with the stellar vault and slim windows is contrasted with the low, wide and dark aisles. The nave is one of the highest in the region, its height reaches about 30 meters. It is one of the typical features of Silesian reduction gothic.
   
The bourgeois epitaphs and the gothic triptych from the 1500 in the presbytery have been preserved from the old, rich interior decoration. During the post-war reconstruction, in the sacristy and the presbytery, gothic polychromies, dated from 1418 to 1428, were discovered.

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bibliography:
Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Pilch J, Leksykon zabytków architektury Górnego Śląska, Warszawa 2008.