Gdańsk – St Catherine’s church

History

   Church of St. Catherine is the oldest parish church in the Old Town of Gdańsk. It was probably built in the years 1227-1237. Historians are not sure whether at the time of the building it was still timber or brick, but thanks to detailed archaeological research it is known that the foundations of the church come from the thirteenth century. In the fourteenth century, the corpus  from the basilica to the hall was rebuilt. The 15th century was the time of further expansion of the church: chapels were added on the sides of the corpus and the low tower from the 14th century was raised. The vault was erected around 1500, and at the beginning of the 16th century, lateral naves were added to the chancel. In this way, the shape of the temple was created, visible until today.
   
In the years 1555-1945, the church belonged to Protestants. After World War II, during which the church burnt down, reconstruction was carried out, and in the tower was placed Museum of Tower Clocks. The church of St. Catherine is one of the few in Poland with a concert carillon, that is a set of at least 23 tuned bells, on which you can play using a special keyboard. In 2006, the roof of the church burnt down, luckily the interior did not suffer any significant damages.

Architecture

    The church was originally erected as a basilica building. The structure was probably transformed to the hall before 1380, that is before the construction of a small tower on the west side. Finally, a five-span, orientated, gothic hall with a vault supported by octagonal pillars was created.
    
In the fifteenth century chapels were added to the side façades next to the chancel: the Three Kings Chapel on the south side in 1433 and St. Mary’s Chapel on the north side in 1445. Around 1450, the chapels appeared on the sides of the tower. At the same time, the tower was raised, and again raised in the years 1484 – 1488, and side chapels were added to the height of the aisles. The vault was erected around 1500, and at the beginning of the 16th century, lateral aisles were added to the chancel.
    
The church created in this way is an interesting example of a temple in which the choir part is much wider than the nave corpus. On the straight side elevations, there are large ogival windows between the buttresses. The interior consists of a sub-tower part with two chapels, three aisles of the corpus and as many aisles of the presbytery, five further chapels, side porch and sacristy. There are 5 entrances inside, and 31 windows illuminate the church. The interior is covered by stellar and net vaults of various forms.

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bibliography:
Webpage gdansk.karmelici.pl.