Gorzów Wielkopolski – church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


   St. Mary’s church in Gorzów (Landsberg) was built in the second half of the 13th century as a municipal parish church. It was erected by a building workshop operating an advanced brick technique, coming from the Cistercian circle. The construction had to start after 1257, when the town was founded, because the layout of the temple was coordinated with the town’s layout. The church originally received the form of a gothic massive and compact pseudo-basilica, enlarged in the second half of the fifteenth century with a new chancel. The patronage over it was initially performed by the city, from 1299 the collegiate chapter in Myślibórz, and then the Teutonic Order and Brandenburg electors. From the end of the sixteenth century it was a Lutheran temple, and therefore its interior has undergone significant transformation. The external shape of the church has not changed significantly. Only in the fifteenth century was added a chancel, and in the seventeenth century a helmet on the south tower in the baroque style.


   The church was erected as a brick gothic, pseudo-basilica with three aisles, a massive tower at the west elevation (slightly wider than the naves), and a sacristy in the shape of a rectangle on the north side. The chancel at the beginning was not separated from the external block, and the building was ended from the east by a straight wall. Thanks to this, from the outside the church presented itself as a compact, massive and powerful solid. Polygonal ended, much narrower than the naves, chancel was added only in the second half of the fifteenth century. This is evidenced by decorative blendes on the older eastern wall and differences in the proportions and articulation of the façades of both parts. The chancel outside is covered with buttresses, while the facades of the naves are covered with pilaster strips, the walls of the choir are also higher than the older walls. The windows of the church are ogival arched and relatively narrow, placed in deep reveals, revealing considerable thickness of the wall.
   There are three ogival portals leading to the church: the main from the west and sideways from the north and south. Inside the presbytery is covered with a stellar vault, while the naves are covered with a cross-rib vault supported by octagonal pillars and wall half-pillars. In the central nave, vault is much wider and slightly higher. It falls on the ancillary columns triads, with the thicker column corresponding to the central rib, and the thinner on sides to the diagonal ribs. The side aisles are open to the cetral nave with ogival arcades, are lower and narrower than the main nave, and above all illuminated with ogival windows in contrast to the dark central nave. The vault system of the side aisles is asymmetrical – the complicated shape of the wall supports in an interesting way does not correspond to the vault system. On the walls between the windows there are massive wall half-pillars segmented by faults with inserted ancillary columns, on which, in turn, diagonal ancillary column flows.
Above the sacristy, crowned with a cross-ribbed vault, a gallery was placed, opened to the nave with an arcade.
The church tower originally had five floors, currently has seven. It was erected on a rectangular plan with dimensions of 10 x 19 meters. It has a defensive character, it could serve as a place of refuge and defense, if the enemy defeats the city’s external fortifications. It could also serve as a place of power for margraves during their numerous visits to the city. This is evidenced by its architectural interior, which is particularly noticeable on the first floor, where there was a matroneum on which the margrave and the court were present during the celebration of the mass. The tower of the Gorzów church was a type popular in the Brandenburg area and has its roots in the Carolingian westwork.
On the south side of the outer wall of the cathedral you can see hundreds of holes drilled in the wall. In the opinion of archaeologists, during the Catholic holidays from this side, the fire required for the liturgy was fired with special drills. From the equipment of Middle Ages, only the figures on the beam in the chancel arch, between the nave and the chancel, and the head of St. John the Baptist on a bowl, have survived.

Current state

   Currently, the church in addition to liturgical functions, is also available for sightseeing. It is possible from April to September, every day at 12.00, see the church tower with a guide. In other hours and dates only after a telephone call. In 2017, a fire broke out in the cathedral. Fortunately, the destructions were not large and limited to the upper parts of the tower, but for the time of renovation, the temple is closed to the tourists.

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Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Jarzewicz J., Architektura średniowieczna Pomorza Zachodniego, Poznań 2019.
Pilch J., Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012.

Webpage katedragorzowska.pl, Historia wieży.
Webpage zabytkowekoscioly.net, Gorzów Wielkopolski, katedra Wniebowzięcia NMP.