Grodków – St Michael’s Church

History

   The church of St. Michael in Grodków (until 1473 under the call of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) began to be built in the early Gothic style in the mid-thirteenth century. Its founder was probably Prince Henry IV Probus, while for the first time the building was mentioned indirectly in 1282, when its priest, named James, was mentioned.
   The construction of the church took a long time. The chancel was built until the end of the 13th century, however, the nave was completed and the tower was built only in the second half of the 14th century or even in the 15th century. Simultaneously with their erection, the walls of the old chancel were raised and chapels were added.
   In 1449, the church was damaged during a town fire, and in the 16th century on the wave of progressive reformation, the it was taken by Protestants, who, after a hundred years, had to give back the building. It was associated with the fall of the anti-Habsburg uprising in the Czech Republic and the start of the Counter-Reformation. Around 1671, the church was rebuilt during renovation after the destruction of the Thirty Years’ War. At that time, vaults in the nave were built. In 1893, renovation and partial regothisation took place (ribs of the nave’s vault, part of the window tracery).

Architecture

   The original church from the second half of the 13th century was planned as a three-aisle hall arrangement, with a long rectangular chancel on the eastern side, to which a sacristy was attached from the south. The church probably did not have a tower at the time.
   The three-bay chancel (8.1 x 16.1 meters) was decorated by a frieze and covered with a cross vault with ribs flowing on bundles of suspended corbels. Their decorations had transitional, Romanesque forms with Gothic ornaments. Outside, diagonal buttresses in the corners and two at the side walls suited them. The interior of the choir was illuminated by tall, pointed windows with tracery, open in each bay, while the sacristy probably had two small southern windows. The sacristy covering was formed by three bays of the cross vault without ribs, separated by wide arch bands. In the southern wall of the chancel there were two portals: one for the sacristy and the other for the cylindrical staircase embedded in the turret. It was entered by a stone stairs to the attic above the presbytery (since the 15th century to the room on the first floor above the presbytery), as well as to the attic above the nave. A large stepped portal with columns was placed in the northern wall of the choir, later obscured by a Gothic sacristy.
   The nave from the 14th / 15th century was founded in the form of a three-aisle, four-bay basilica with chapels and a porch at the northern aisle (central aisle 8.7 x 21.1 meters, southern 4.3 meters wide, northern one 4 meters wide). Both side aisles, like the chancel, ended in the east with straight walls with single windows. A 2.6 x 4.4 meter porch adjacent to the central bay of the southern aisle, was open outside with a wide ogival arch, and inside it was covered with a rib vault. In the 15th century a new sacristy was built at the chancel from the north, and from the west a massive four-sided tower divided with cornices on the floors was added to the nave. The tower was crowned with a decorative battlement and covered with a brick pyramidal helmet. The chancel walls were raised than, adding an additional floor illuminated by its own windows. Outside, the aisles and sacristy were fastened with buttresses.
   Inside, the nave opened to the aisles with ogival arcades, supported by rectangular pillars. Chancel arch and arcades connecting chapels and porches with aisles received the ogival arches. The nave was originally crowned with a wooden ceiling, although it was planned to top it with a vault, as evidenced by diagonal and southern buttresses, while the internal facades were left smooth, pierced only with large ogival windows in each bay.

Current state

   To this day, from the 13th-century church, the chancel with the southern sacristy and partly the walls of the southern aisle have been preserved. The other parts come mainly from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, although the early modern are chapel at the eastern part of the southern aisle and the nave’s vaults (only the vaults of the northern chapels and chancel are Gothic). The original ogival window clearance of the central aisle was also bricked up and turned into semi-circular. A characteristic feature of the church is the rich architectural detail in the form of wall shafts in the presbytery, friezes, portals and traceries (renovated in the early modern period).

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bibliography:
Kozaczewska H., Średniowieczne kościoły halowe na Śląsku, “Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki”, 1-4, Warszawa 2013.
Kozaczewska-Golasz H., Halowe kościoły z XIII wieku na Śląsku, Wrocław 2015.

Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Górnego Śląska, Warszawa 2008.