Chwarszczany – chapel of St Stanislaus


   The chapel of Saint Stanislaus in the village of Chwarszczany was erected together with the commandry of the Knights Templars, settled thanks to the donation of Prince Władysław Odonic in 1232. The church itself was probably built at the end of the 13th century, although perhaps its lower parts of the granite cube date back to about 1250. After the liquidation of the Knights Templar, in 1345-1540 Chwarszczany remained in the possession of the Knights Hospitaller. Then, when the commandry moved to Świdwin, the Brandenburg margraves founded a farm in Chwarszczany, functioning until the end of the Second World War. However, the complex was destroyed earlier, in 1758, during the Seven Year’s War. In 1859 new window tracery was made, and in 1870 and 1898, renovation works were carried out, while the sacristy and matroneum were added, and the west gable was remodeled. During this works wall paintings were discovered, but they were painted over in 1947. In the years 1996-1997 they were re-maintained.



   A commandry was located in the area of a flattened, small hill (2 meters high) in the shape of an ellipse, measuring 150 x 100 meters. Its longer axis ran on the east-west line. From the west, the elevation adjoined the river, and from the other sides was surrounded by a hundred meter marsh strip. The chapel was placed in the north – western part of the ward. A free-standing temple was accompanied by other buildings located in the area of a large courtyard, probably surrounded by fortifications.

   The chapel was built of bricks on a pedestal made of granite blocks in the Gothic style. It is an aisleless, buttressed building with dimensions 25,2 × 9,5 and height of 13,6 meters. It is polygonal ended from the east. In western corners it has two cylindrical towers. You can read in it a distant reference to the Paris Sainte-Chapelle, or the Jerusalem architecture, especially through the biblical description of the Temple of Solomon, which coincides with its external appearance. The exception is the two cylindrical towers partially embedded in the corners of the building, flanking the west façade exactly where the corner buttresses were used. It is assumed that this solution may be a reference to the Cistercian architecture or the military character of the Knights Templar. This impression is further intensified by slit holes illuminating the interior of the towers, imitating arrowslits. The south – west tower contains a spiral staircase connecting the interior of the chapel with an attic, while the north – west tower is empty inside. The walls are clasped by heavy, one-stepped buttresses, not coming to the crown of the walls, but ending at the height of the window arches.
   On the axis of the façade there is a granite two-stepped portal with a gently outlined pointed arch. Its stonework is distinguished by the care of machining, blows of corners and jambs of archivolts, although larger than average in the walls, are exactly matched to the appropriate layers. In relatively narrow fugues you can not see fillings with debris or bricks. The second portal was located on the south side. It was made of high brick segments, while the pear-shaped moulding of its jambs passed into archivolts without passing the capital zone.
   The ascetic interior is characterized by its severity and presents itself as a uniform space. 
It has a cross-rib vault in three rectangular bays and a six-section vault, which closes the temple in the east like a canopy. Its lighting is provided by tall windows with smooth reveals, and the boundaries of the bays and corners of the polygon have been accentuated by ancillary columns with cup-shaped, smooth capitals. In the eastern, multi-sided part of the chapel, the ancillary columns flow down to the floor, ending with disc bases. In the longitudinal walls, however, the ancillary columns break off in a characteristic way slightly below the window sills. They are deprived of corbels, only their bottom surface is rounded and decorated with individual vine leaves. In the south – east part of the polygon a small niche has been placed, topped with a sharpened trefoil. On the western side there is a nineteenth-century matroneum. A very valuable element are wall polychromes created around 1400, attributed to the Knights Hospitallers foundation. They form a 2,75 meters high frieze running along the walls on almost the entire length of the chapel, at the height of the windows.

Current state

   The Templar chapel is one of the most valuable monuments of Western Pomerania. Archaeological research has been carried out since 2004. The Templar Museum was opened next to the chapel, concerning the history of the Knights Templar and other knights’ orders, and since 2005, the Cultural Park Chwarszczany has been established in the area of the former complex.

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Jarzewicz J., Architektura średniowieczna Pomorza Zachodniego, Poznań 2019.
Radacki Z., Średniowieczne zamki Pomorza Zachodniego, Warszawa 1976.

Walczak M., Kościoły gotyckie w Polsce, Kraków 2015.
Website, Kaplica templariuszy w Chwarszczanach.
Website, Kościół św. Stanisława Kostki w Chwarszczanach.