Garbno – St Catherine’s Church


   The church in Garbno (Lamgarben) was probably built in the second half of the 15th century, although it cannot be ruled out that the nave was built earlier. The tower was erected in two stages and completed around the end of the 15th century. The church originally had the dedication of St. Catherine. Until the 16th century, it was under the patronage of the Teutonic Order, and after the secularization of the Teutonic Knights, it served the Lutherans. In the years 1728-1732, the nave was pulled down along with annexes, and a new one was erected in its place, next to the medieval tower. In 1818, a storm that passed over the area knocked the roof off the tower and the nave, which fell through the ceiling and destroyed most of the church’s furnishings. After this event, the renovation of the building was completed only in 1824. During World War II, the church was almost completely destroyed, only the walls of the medieval tower have survived. The new church dedicated to Our Lady was erected on the old foundations in the 1980s.


   The church was built on a small hill in the bend of the Guber River. It was built of bricks in a Flemish bond on a stone plinth. It was probably an aisleless structure on a rectangular plan, without an externally separated chancel, so it presented a type very popular among rural religious buildings in the territory of the Teutonic Knights. On the west side of the nave there was a four-sided tower, presumably the church also had a sacristy.
   In the ground floor of the tower there was an entrance portal from the west. The lower, older part of the tower was decorated on each free side with three tall blendes, completed only in the second phase, when they were closed in a semicircles and decorated with a pattern of alternating black and red bricks. The top two floors were also decorated with rows of four blendes, but the lower ones and punctured in some places with openings. The blendes of the highest storey were distinguished from the others with pointed heads. In addition, the two highest floors were separated from the lower part by a frieze of four rows of sloping bricks, and the upper floors themselves were separated by a plastered frieze.

Current state

   Until now, only the late-Gothic tower has survived from the original medieval building, while the nave and annexes visible today date back to the 20th century. The two-phase structure of the tower is clearly visible on the external façades of the tower walls. It is also distinguished by a high toothed frieze and the densely spaced, semicircular blendes, characteristic of the late Gothic period.

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Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler der Provinz Ostpreußen, Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler in Natangen, red. A.Boetticher, Königsberg 1892.
Herrmann C., Mittelalterliche Architektur im Preussenland, Petersberg 2007.