Gubin – St Lawrence’s Church

History

   The first mention of the church, which originally had the call of St. Laurentius, come from 1324, although as early as in 1253 the Gubin parish priest was recorded. At the beginning of the fourteenth century, partly due to damages caused by earthquakes, and partly due to the increase of the city’s population, the building was partially demolished, and in its place the construction of a new Gothic church began. Work on it interrupted the Hussite wars in 1429, which is why construction continued until the 16th century. By 1508, the impressive chancel was completed, and in the years 1519 – 1560 a late gothic nave was erected. In the meantime, two Romanesque towers were demolished in 1520, and a new, single, in the middle of the west facade was built. Finally, new pillars were erected in the western part and late-Gothic vaults were established. As a result one of the most magnificent churches in Lower Lusatia was created.
   
The interior of the temple has been rebuilt several times, including in 1594 and 1706 and in the years 1842-1844, however, the basic shape of the building has survived until the 20th century. During World War II, the temple was destroyed and despite the later efforts of the town authorities, after the war it failed to restore its former glory. It was secured as a ruin.

Architecture

   The original church from the 13th century was a three-aisle Romanesque basilica orientated towards the side of the world, with two towers on the west side and a narrow presbytery closed with a straight wall on the east side.
   The Gothic church, whose construction began in the fourteenth century on the site of an earlier building, received a three-aisle, hall form. The four-bay nave was connected to the three-aisle and also hall chancel, of the same width, with a polygonal closed ambulatory. The interior of the chancel was circled by a wreath of chapels, from the north there was a sacristy, and from the west a six-storey tower. Its facades were decorated with numerous blendes and reached a height of 53 meters. The church received impressive dimensions: over 64 meters in length and a cubature of 38 thousand m3. The chancel was 29.2 meters long, 22.7 meters wide, and the nave was 25.5 meters long and 11.5 meters wide, with the main aisle alone being 7 meters wide and 20.5 meters high.
   The outer façades of the church were two-level. The lower part was occupied by the chapels covered with mono-pitched roofs and ogival windows pierced in smooth walls. Above the chapels a high aisle wall rose, separated by buttresses with several steps. On the axis of the wall between the buttresses, high windows were placed: four-light in the presbytery and slightly narrower, three-light in the nave. The roof covering the three aisles was high. The church had four entrances. One led from the north to the presbytery, one was from the north and south in the west bay of the nave and a single portal was on the west side.
   The interiors of the late Gothic church were crowned with vaults. The main nave had a net vault, the side aisles of the chancel also had a netk vault, but modified accordingly over the ambulatory, and above the aisles of the nave were stellar vaults with a rich rib drawing. The bay in the ground floor of the tower was similarly vaulted, while in the two chapels diamond vaults were used (in the other varied arrangements of net and cross rib forms).
   The side walls of the church were two-level with low and wide arcades of chapels in the ground floor and high arcades of window recesses above them, except for the northern wall of the nave. Between the window niches were internal buttresses with passages, with a wall-shafts in the middle in the presbytery. The wall-shafts were crowned with ceramic capitals in the form of heads with individual features. The net of ribs flowing down to the pillars of the presbytery was based on ceramic corbels in the form of heads. Only the northern aisle of the nave had a smooth wall with windows above the ground floor arcades. Ribs of decorative stellar vaults merged into the walls and pillars of the nave without corbels.

Current state

    Up to this day, the perimeter walls of the church have been preserved on their entire height with buttresses, pillars, and moreover, a tower, sacristy with a two-bay rib vault, and chapels between buttresses, protected with roofs and covered by stellar and net vaults. Of architectural details, heads of wall shafts and corbels with masks, fragments of vault ribs and the west portal have been preserved. In the first half of the 19th century, chapel windows and entrance portals on the north and south were transformed. In recent years, the building has undergone a partial restaurant, as a result of which, a church tower has been opened to the public.

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bibliography:
Kowalski S., Zabytki architektury województwa lubuskiego, Zielona Góra 2010.
Kozaczewska-Golasz H., Halowe kościoły z wieku XV i pierwszej połowy XVI na Śląsku, Wrocław 2018.

Kozaczewska H., Średniowieczne kościoły halowe na Śląsku, “Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki”, 1-4, Warszawa 2013.