Gdańsk – St Barbara’s Church

History

   St. Barbara’s Church was built in the 30’s of the 15th century on the site of an earlier wooden chapel, existing already in 1387 and known as Biirbarn Capclla. This chapel, located outside the town at that time, served as a hospital for infectious diseases. Due to the expansion to the sizeable church, the building was raised in 1456 to the rank of a parish temple. It is not certain what the recorded in the sources date 1485 referred to. Perhaps it was related to some subsequent reconstruction, repair of the roof or erection of the tower.
   At the end of the 15th century, the church and hospital were destroyed several times by fires. After another of them, reinforcement buttresses were erected in 1545, and at the end of the 16th century, the tower was rebuilt. In the years 1726-1728, the reconstruction took place, fundamentally changing the character of the church. A narrower and lower southern aisle has been added to the existing gothic building, thus creating a three-nave interior. At the same time, the baroque form was given to the gables, previously decorated with gothic pinnacles. The southern nave was dismantled in 1966 due to war damages, partially restoring its original appearance to the church.

Architecture

   The church from the 15th century had a hall layout, probably two-aisle, without a chancel separated from the outside, with a four-sided tower on the west side. On the north-eastern side there was a square sacristy, covered with a diamond vault. The church was about 36 meters long and 18 meters wide. Two portals led to the interior: the ogival one under the tower and a smaller one on the north side, perhaps another one was also located in the eastern part of the southern wall. The church was illuminated by a large, single, pointed window with traceries in the eastern wall and four ogival windows from the north and four from the south. The interior was covered with a diamond vault in the porch under the tower and a cross vault in the chapels between later buttresses. The original nave vault has not survived, so it is not known what form it had.

Current state

   The medieval church significantly suffered as a result of early modern transformations and war damages. As a result of the latter, the gable walls, the upper floor of the tower the roofs, and with them most of the vaults in the northern chapels and the nave, collapsed. The southern façade of the nave underwent a significant changes. It was pierced in the early modern period with arcades to the aisle created at that time, which was pulled down in the 20th century. However, the original window openings were not restored at that time, and colored stained-glass windows were inserted into the arcades.

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bibliography:
Friedrich J., Gdańskie zabytki architektury do końca XVIII wieku, Gdańsk 1997.

Webpage gedanopedia.pl, Kościół św Barbary.