Darłowo – St Mary’s Church


   The construction of the St Mary’s church in Darłowo was started in 1321 on the initiative of the bishop Konrad and brothers Święcowie. In 1394, the church tower was erected from the funds of duke Bogusław VIII, and later the sacristy and side chapels were added. The church was destroyed by numerous fires: in 1589, 1624, 1679 and 1722. In a fire in 1679, caused by lightning, the whole interior of the church and the tower burnt down. From 1540, the building was used by Protestants. During this time, many architectural changes have been made, including in 1897, wooden galleries were erected in front of the choir and side aisles. In 1974 works began to restore the Gothic character of the building – galleries and plasters that obscured original details were removed.


   The church is a three-aisle, four-bay basilica with a double-bay chancel closed on three sides, erected west of the town square. On the west there is a four-sided tower, wider than the central nave. On its sides, two-bay chapels were added, but before they were erected, the tower was most probably open by passage at the ground floor. On the eastern extension of the aisles there is a sacristy from the north and a chapel from the south.
   The distinctiveness of the main elements of the building, covered by roofs of various heights, is strongly marked: from the tower with a tent roof towering over the whole church, a slightly lower central nave, separated by gable from a slightly lower chancel, to side aisles, which with the chapels were covered with high mono-pitched roofs. The walls of the central nave only slightly protrudes above the roofs of the side aisles, therefore the windows of the nave are visible from the outside only as pointed arches. Decorated with a dark brick zendrówka, the outer elevation of the church is surrounded by buttresses, between which there are three-light large windows with moulded tracery. The buttresses were not used on the walls of the central nave. The elevations of the side aisles were enriched with octagonal stair towers placed between the first and the second bay. A similar, but higher turret was located at the southern facade of the chancel. The half-gables on the side of the presbytery and the tower are fragmented with blendes. A frieze in the form of quatrefoil circulates above the windows of the chancel.
   Inside, three pairs of octagonal pillars define four laterally rectangular bays in the central nave and close to the square in the aisles. The presbytery consists of two rectangular bays and a half-hexagonal closure. The naves, presbytery and southern chapels are covered with stellar four-arm vaults. At the end of the presbytery there is a four-armed vaulted ceiling, and in the sacristy there is a rib vault supported by an octagonal pillar. The interior of the church in Darłowo is characterized by different wall systems in the central nave. On the north side, above a relatively squat arcades with moulded corners, there is a high windows level with small windows located in the upper part of the deep niches. The elements connecting the storeys are moulded pilaster stripes rising on the line of pillars and passing into arches. On the southern side, however, the layout of the walls was enriched with a fairly high intermediate storey with triads of openings, directed to the attic space of the side aisle. On the side walls of the aisles, there is a system of lesenes growing out of the high pedestal zone, framing the window niches. An even richer arrangement was used in the presbytery, where above the lower zone, with the character of a pedestal segmented with wide recesses, a windows level rises, almost entirely occupied by large windows, between which wall-mounted pillars framed the window niches. At the height of window sills, the pillars were pierced with gallery passages. Wall-mounted ancillary shafts float onto the wall-mounted pillars, which were hung on the corbels at the height of the gallery.

Current state
   The church belongs to the Central-Pomeranian basilica group and in comparison to them, it is distinguished by originality (windows gallery, three-story layout of the southern wall in the central nave). The general arrangement of the Darłowo church refers to the basilicas in Pelplin and Gdańsk (the first phase of St. Mary’s Church). Among preserved church equipment it is worth to pay attention to the tombs of the Pomeranian dukes: Eric I, Elisabeth – the wife of the last Pomeranian prince Bogusław XIV, and Hedwig- the wife of Ulrich, brother of Bogusław XIV.

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

Pilch J., Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012.
Website darlot.pl, Kościół Mariacki w Darłowie.