The Bernardine Monastery in Jawor was founded at the request of King Matthias Corvinus. In 1485, the monks were invited by bishop and staroste of the Świdnica-Jawor principality Jan of Waradyn, who built the monastery complex with his own funds. The temple was consecrated in 1489, while in 1492 the city council handed over the area for the construction of the monastery.
During the Reformation, the convent declined, and the city council tried to transform the buildings into a place of care for the poor. In 1556, only one monk was supposed to be in the monastery. In the years 1565-1638, the monastery belonged to the town, which arranged in it Protestant school. In 1810, as a result of the cassation of the Order, it became the property of the state. At that time it housed a military arsenal. In the years 1845-1964 it fell into ruin, and then it was handed over to the Regional Museum, which in the period from 1964 to 1986, carried out a general renovation and restoration work.
The Bernardine friary was situated in the southern part of Jawor, i.e. exactly on the opposite side of the parish church, close to the town walls. The facade of the convent faced one of the main town streets connecting with the corner of the market square. The complex of buildings, consisting of the church and three wings surrounding the inner garth, was built of bricks and unworked stones, with the use of ashlar of which architectural details were made.
Church had the form of a four-bay hall with a central nave and two aisles, an elongated chancel ended in a polygonal manner (which originally probably was an older chapel from the early 15th century). A polygonal tower was placed on the north-eastern side of the nave. A characteristic feature of the church was the west, triangular gable decorated with pinnacles and white plastered blendes. Rectangular blendes have been divided into trusses and closed in a semi-circular and segmental manner. The church was illuminated by tall ogival, two-light windows with tracery, pierced from the north and in the three walls of the polygon. A wide ogival window, four-light, also was opened in the western facade. On the south side, where the monastery buildings were located, there were no windows. Two portals were placed in the west bay: on the north side to the nave, and on the south side to the monastery. The main entrance led to the church from the west.
Inside the aisles were divided by octagonal pillars, placed on pedestals with moulded bases. The central nave received a stellar, four-pointed vault, while cross – rib vaults were used in the aisles and chancel. The ribs in the nave were springing from the pyramidal and canopy corbels with tracery decorations. The bosses had circular forms, in the chancel decorated with a rosette, monogram and the town’s coat of arms. Both parts of the church were separated by an ogival arcade, chamfered from the middle of the height.
The buildings of the claustrum were placed on the south side of the church around a square yard surrounded by vaulted cloisters. South of the chancel in the east wing there was a rectangular sacristy with a rib vault on stone corbels. Next to it was a chapterhouse with a rib vault, three sides ended in the east, and on the first floor a three-bay dormitory, also with rib vault. The southern wing housed three rooms on the ground floor – a refectory, a pantry connected to the basement and a second larger room, probably an additional refectory or room for the brothers’ work (on its wall there was a wall painting with fragments of the scene from the Last Supper). In the west wing there was a forasterium (parlour) on the lower floor and three rooms on the first floor together with the passage above the cloister. In one of the rooms, covered with a rib vault, probably a guardian or vicar used to teach novices. From the east wing of the monastery a covered porch from the 16th century ran towards the city walls, probably a transition to the former latrines.
The museum housed in former monastic buildings has rich archaeological, geological, ethnographic, military and old craft collections. In the Gothic interiors of the monastery church, we can see sacred art and a series of Gothic-Renaissance polychromes. In the former monastery courtyard and cloisters there is an exhibition showing the guild craft, with rich collections of locksmiths, convalescrafts, goldsmiths and gingerbreads. Inside the church, on the southern wall of the aisle, fragments of wall polychrome from the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries have been preserved.
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