Chełmno – church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


   The church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chełmno, commonly known as Parish, is the most magnificent of the currently existing Chełmno churches. It was erected in the years 1280-1320. In contrast to many other sacred buildings, it was built quite quickly, and during the construction only small adjustments were made in relation to the original design. It was erected in two phases. First, the chancel and the northern aisle were built. In the second phase, the construction of the entire corpus with the northern tower was completed. The southern tower was left unfinished. In the following centuries, no major alterations were made to disturb the gothic character of the temple and the impression of stylistic uniformity. Only in 1560, the chapel of the Mother of God was added, and at the end of the 17th century, the chapel of Corpus Christi and in the 18th century, the southern porch. At the end of the 19th century, serious repair work was carried out on the damaged by the time walls, in particular within the highest storey of the northern tower.


   The temple is a three-nave, hall church with a separate, narrow rectangular chancel on the eastern side. On the west side, the church facade is covered by two massive towers of unequal height. Most probably the southern tower was not completed, due to fire, collapse and lack of money to continue construction. A characteristic feature of the external architecture are five bays of aisles, covered with separate roofs, perpendicular to the longitudinal axis. Each bay is crowned with a separate gable and pierced by a large ogival window that adds a particular finesse to the side façades.
Church was one of the many parish temples in Prussia under the protection of the Teutonic Order. This was connected with the construction of the matroneum, which consisted of triple rooms in the western massif and a gallery in the northern tower at the presbytery. These interiors served the local Teutonic authorities.
The interior of the church is divided into three naves of equal height and almost the same width, enhancing the impression of spaciousness. The naves and chancel were covered with rib vaults with suspended bosses with a rich iconographic program. You can see there, among others, the performance of ostrich, mermaid, basilisk, dragon, geese, eagle, head of a jester, bishop and old man.
On the huge pillars you can admire the gallery of eleven apostles, made around 1330-1340. It is the most monumental group of this type in former Prussia, used even in the castle church in Malbork and in the cathedral in Königsberg, and probably modeled on the chapel at the royal palace in Paris. In Chełmno, for the first time, it was placed in the nave, not in the presbytery. The apostles hold in their hands the books on which the creed was originally written. At the same time, wall paintings in the presbytery and Saint Christopher painted in the northern aisle. The presbytery’s internal elevations are smooth, divided only by thin ancillary columns, on which the vaults flow.

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Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.

Walczak M.,Kościoły gotyckie w Polsce, Kraków 2015.
Webpage, Kościół Wniebowzięcia NMP w Chełmnie.