The cathedral was founded in 1176 by the Pomeranian prince Kazimierz I in relation with the relocation of the seat of Pomeranian bishops from nearby Wolin. Originally, the temple was erected in the Romanesque style. In the years 1180-1210 the chancel and choir with transept were erected, and the sacristy was added to the main corpus. The southern porch was built in the years 1230-1250. In 1308, the unfinished building was destroyed by Brandenburg troops. After the work was resumed, the construction of the basilica was continued in the Gothic style. After 1310, cloisters on the northern side were erected, and in the years 1325-1350, a Gothic room was added over the eastern wing of the cathedral, in which later the cathedral treasury was located. At the beginning of the fourteenth century paintings were created on the vault of the presbytery and in the apse. At the same time, the basilic corpus was built on the original Romanesque foundation, a Gothic brick tower and a rood screen in front of the chancel. In 1419, the Lepel chapel adjacent to the nave was built. The church was completed at the end of the 15th century. The chapter house adjoining to the chancel from the south, was built then.
In 1535 the cathedral passed into the hands of the evangelical church. During the Thirty Years War, the interior was destroyed, but thanks to the generosity of prince Ernest Bogusław von Croya, in the second half of the 17th century, the temple acquired new baroque furnishings. In 1802, the Gothic tower of the cathedral was demolished. The new, neo-Gothic bell tower was erected in 1855, and renovation works were carried out. In the 1960s, the temple was regothisated and renovated.
The cathedral is a Romanesque-Gothic building built of brick in the monk bond and granite blocks in the lower parts of the transept. The church is a three-aisle building with a square presbytery finished with an apse. From the north there is a two-bay vestry and cloisters with a storey east wing, surrounding the inner courtyard. In the south there is a chapter house on the square plan and porch. The early modern tower is from the west. Interestingly, the side naves of the body are not equal in width. The southern aisle with late-Gothic forms is much wider than the northern one, probably due to the earlier beginning of the construction of cloisters. The church over the presbytery, transept and the nave is covered with gable roofs, whereas the side aisles are covered with mono-pitched roofs.
The cathedral, with the relative simplicity of the design, surprises with the diversity of details: narrow, pointed windows of various forms, arcaded cornices, pilaster strips, late Gothic attics. The walls of the Gothic nave are reinforced with buttresses, between which large three-light, ogival windows are placed. The elevation of the southern aisle is topped with an openwork attic, consisting of triangular gables with rich decorations.
As several workshops and plan changes took place during the construction works, the outer façade of the apse in the upper part is much poorer. Multi-stepped lesenes and blackened columns stop here, and the articulation is much more modest. In the transept, these changes resulted in the introduction of granite between the brick parts. The southern part of the transverse nave, directed towards the canon and episcopal curia, was also the main façade. This side has the most developed portal with jambs decorated with terracotta columns and artificial stone, and the façade of the transept is richly decorated. There are corner lesenes connected with an arcaded frieze, a triad of windows flanked with blendes with trefoil finials and three similar niches at the top gable. In addition, internal blende’s fields were distinguished with the opus spicatum bond, and their faults were surrounded by slender columns. Similar mouldings were used in window reveals. While the eastern part of the church was built in the Romanesque style, the western naves were already maintained in Gothic forms.
The interiors of the chancel, transept and part of the nave are covered with rib vaults, the southern nave is covered with a stellar vault. The central nave is open to the aisles with large, pointed arcades. There are fragments of polychrome from the first half of the 14th century preserved on the vault of the presbytery and nave. In the main altar there is a late Gothic triptych from around 1520, and the early Gothic baptismal font from the 14th century is placed in the northern arm of the transept. There is a Gothic crucifix from the mid-15th century in the chancel arch. On the wall of the southern arm of the transept, paintings from 1527 are hung.
Jarzewicz J., Architektura średniowieczna Pomorza Zachodniego, Poznań 2019.
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Pilch J., Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, 2012.
Sztuka polska przedromańska i romańska do schyłku XIII wieku, red. M. Walicki, Warszawa 1971.
Webpage zabytkowekoscioly.net, Kamień Pomorski, katedra św. Jana Chrzciciela.