Bytów – St Catherine’s Church

History

   The church of St. Catherine in Bytów was probably built before the Teutonic Kniights founded the town in 1346, as already in 1329 there were first mentions of the Bytów parish priest, a certain Enslans. Until the beginning of the second half of the 16th century, the church was used by Catholics. In 1557 it was handed over by the Pomeranian prince Barnim IX to Protestants. In 1614, thanks to the donation of Prince Frederick II, renovation works were carried out, probably after their completion, the church received a new call from St. Margaret. Around 1640, when the land of Bytów was included under the rule of Polish monarchs, the church was again handed over to Catholics.
   Over the centuries, the church has been damaged by fires and plundered many times. Catholics, after regaining the building in 1640, had to rebuild it from the destruction caused by a fire that took place 15 years earlier. Once again, the church burnt down as a result of the Swedish invasion, after which it was rebuilt in 1690. Ten years later, Bytów was destroyed by another fire, as a result of which only the destroyed walls of the nave and tower remained. The reconstruction was carried out in the years 1893-1894 on the foundations of the old church, leaving only the original tower. Once again, almost complete destruction was brought about in 1945, when the building was almost completely destroyed as a result of fights. The burnt walls of the nave were pulled down in the 1960s.

Architecture

   The church was built of bricks on a erratic stone foundation. Originally it was a two-aisle building on a rectangular plan with a chancel finished with a polygonal apse on the eastern side and a four-sided tower with a defensive character on the western side. At the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, the church was extended by the southern aisle.

Current state

   Only a Gothic tower has survived to the present day, in which archaeological monuments from excavations carried out in Pomerania and Bytów, are currently presented.

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bibliography:
Kajkowski K., Szczepanik P., Kościół p.w. św. Katarzyny w Bytowie w świetle źródeł archeologicznych, “Nasze Pomorze”, nr 14, Bytów 2012.