The Gothic parish church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (originally dedicated to St. Dorothy) began to be built in Koło at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. Its construction was carried out in many stages. First, the chancel was built, which for some time was an independent building, as evidenced by the western buttresses, later absorbed by the nave and the western gable of the presbytery visible in the attic, as well as an unusual staircase in the thickness of the west wall of the chancel.
In 1409 church was consecrated, probably consisting only of a later aisleless presbytery. In 1471, the tenant of the Koło eldership, Hińcza from Rogowo, at the parish church erected a college of vicars, and shortly thereafter, in 1478, the town authorities funded an altar in the church. Probably these foundations meant that the church nave was already completed at that time.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the St. Mary’s (Mother of God) chapel was built, added to the nave and consecrated in 1522. Then, still in the sixteenth century, probably in its second or third decade, vaults were built over the presbytery.
In the nineteenth century, due to the poor condition of the church, thorough renovation work was carried out. Vaults in the nave were then built, a porch was added on the west side of the church, and a chapel was added from the north. Restoration work continued in the 20th century, including for the renovation of walls and Gothic pinnacles.
The church was built of bricks in the Gothic style. It received a large, three-aisle nave in the hall arrangement, with a spacious presbytery, slightly wider than the central nave. It was built on a rectangular plan and strengthened from the outside with buttresses. The church was covered with a gable roof, separate for the presbytery and nave. The gable of the presbytery was decorated with pinnacles, plastered recesses and round openings, a similarly decorative form was given to the west gable and the small gable of St. Mary’s Chapel, rectangular in plan, added from the south to the third bay of the nave. The church did not receive a tower, only a small ridge turret at the top of the nave. Originally, however, there was a porch and sacristy on the north side of the presbytery. Inside, the nave and the presbytery were originally covered with wooden ceilings, only in the second or third decade of the 16th century a late gothic ribbed stellar vault was founded over the presbytery.
To this day, the church has preserved the original, Gothic shape, slightly changed during the nineteenth-century renovations, during which inter-nave pillars were walled or rebuilt, and neo-Gothic vaults in the nave were established. The shapes of the newly pierced nave windows and partly the windows of the presbytery come from this period (three windows in the eastern wall of the presbytery are original). Some of the windows were moved relative to the original openings, and the whole church was enlarged by a porch and northern chapel. However, the medieval porch and sacristy adjacent to the presbytery from the north did not survive.
In the church, the stone gravestone of the staroste of Koło, Jan from Garbowo, who died in 1454, the son of the famous Zawisza Czarny of Garbowo, as well as the late gothic sacramentary made of sandstone around the mid-16th century have been preserved.
Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Kowalski Z., Gotyk wielkopolski. Architektura sakralna XIII-XVI wieku, Poznań 2010.
Maluśkiewicz P., Gotyckie kościoły w Wielkopolsce, Poznań 2008.