Gdańsk – Franciscan Monastery and the church of the Holy Trinity


   The Franciscans were brought to Gdańsk in 1419 as a result of the decision of the council of the Main Town of Gdańsk and with the support of the Teutonic Order, but they were on their own with building of the church and the monastery. This has resulted in a very slow pace of work and the initial quality and shape of the whole complex. The monks employed poor murators and obtained free, often recycled bricks. The construction of the Franciscan church of the Holy Trinity and the monastery began in 1422-1433. The earliest element of the building became later the chancel of today’s church. In 1484, it was decided to expand the church. Chancel was raised and covered with a new vault and the construction of the nave was started. Unfortunately, due to chaotic and in part probably unprofessional works, in 1503 the southern wall collapsed, and with it five ready-made pillars. Probably after this catastrophe, an experienced master builder working for the Teutonic Order was brought. Finally, in 1514, he completed the construction of vaults and added the St. Anne Chapel at the beginning of the sixteenth century.
   As a result of the Reformation, in 1556 the decayed monastery was handed over to the city for theological school. In the 17th century, from the west side, a timber frame house was built at the church, and in the nineteenth century, the monastery buildings intended for the museum, were rebuilt. The Franciscans regained the badly damaged church only after 1945.


   The church of the Holy Trinity is a three-nave hall with a rectangular chancel and a chapel of St. Anne from the west. Interestingly, the eastern wall of the chancel has an oblique course, adapted to Rzeźnicza Street, which is much older than the church. Opposite walls of the temple are decorated with two gables and an additional one over the northern aisle. The corpus has three naves and six bays. On each side of the aisle, there are narrow chapels in the niches between the buttresses.
The church is covered with a vaulted ceiling, carried by ten octagonal pillars, while the chancel is covered with a stellar vault. It passes through a unique rood screen, a partition separating the space intended for monks, from the part where lay people could stay. Above the chapels on the south side, diamond vaults were founded, perhaps the oldest in Gdańsk. The church has preserved a lot of valuable equipment: next to the chancel walls there is a well-preserved group of wooden stalls from 1507-1511, a crucifix from around 1500, two altar reredos in the form of triptychs, or the late gothic corpus of the pulpit.
   Chapel of St. Anna, built from the west side to the south aisle of the church, is one of the most magnificent monuments of late gothic architecture. It is an aisleless, four-sided building with a sloping east wall, five-bay. It has five windows from the south, enlarged in the seventeenth century and exterior elevations without buttresses. From the west side a beautiful late gothic pinnacle gable with a tracery frieze with a fish bladder motif is placed. Inside the chapel is decorated with unique stellar-net vaults with ribs with a full arch.
The monastic buildings have a four-wing layout with a courtyard on a plan similar to a square. Originally they had only two wings – on the east and south side of the courtyard. The west wing was erected only in the 16th century, when the monastery already served as a gymnasium. Unfortunately, little is known about its condition from before the reconstruction in the 19th century. The east wing housed a small refectory and library, and the south kitchen and a great refectory. The rooms were stellar and net vaulted, while the cloisters, the refectory and even the kitchen had diamond vaults. The chapter house with a beautiful stellar vault supported on one pillar was in the south-eastern corner. Until 1487, the construction of the monastery floor was completed, with cells for 53 monks.

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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 i klasztor franciszkanów Świętej Trójcy.