Koszalin – St Mary’s Cathedral

History

   The St. Mary’s cathedral in Koszalin was erected in the years 1300-1333, thanks to the growing town and the Cistercian monastery. For the needs of the construction of town walls, seven brick kilns were created near the town, using local clay deposits. It seems likely that after the completion of these works, from the same sources came the bricks for the construction of the church, because they are similar in size. Initially as a parish church, it was the main urban temple in the medieval Koszalin, under the care of guild fraternities. Until 1534, it was a Catholic temple, and then for over 400 years Protestant.
   The church has survived to our times in very good architectural form, despite numerous fires of the town, as well as wars (in 1504, 1718, 1760, 1812 and 1945). In the years 1842-1845 it underwent a thorough renovation. Unfortunately, on its occasion, the medieval chapels surrounding the side aisles were destroyed. Another renovation from the 60s of the twentieth century removed early modern galleries and plasters and unveiled original vaults, servants, ancillary columns and cornices.

Architecture

   The church was located within the building block at the north-eastern corner of the city market. It is a brick building erected in a monk bond, with the use of stones in the foundation. A three-nave solid with a basilica layout has a separate and somewhat elongated, three side ended presbytery. To the west there is a four-storey, massive tower with numerous blendes on each side. The whole building is surrounded by a decorative frieze made of brickwork with four-leaf motifs. A unique and very interesting element is the beam structure inside the tower constituting the scaffolding for bells. On both sides of the tower there are two profiled portals with pointed arches. In addition, three smaller portals were placed in the walls of the side aisles. On their extension, from the east, the 15th century annexes were built, containing the sacristy and the porch. At both side aisles, turrets are also placed on a pentagonal plan with internal stairs. The central nave is clasped with two-stepped and presbytery with three-stepped buttresses.
  
The nave, presbytery and porch adorn the stellar vault. The side walls of the nave support two six-sided, massive pillars in two rows, symbolizing the figures of the 12 apostles. They define four rectangular bays in the central nave and close to the square in the aisles. In the chancel a rectangular bay and a polygon closure were created. The northern chapel at the chancel is opened to the side aisle with an arcade. In the presbytery, the walls were divided by a cornice into two zones: the lower one with a pedestal and the upper one with large windows. The walls of the central nave were provided with lesenes rising on the line of pillars; a similar system of lesenes was also used on the perimeter walls of the side aisles. Originally in the aisles there were a number of chapels, systematically added and decorated throughout the Middle Ages. The change of the shape of the pillars from the densely profiled at the chancel arch to the lack of profiling in the remaining part of the church, indicates a change in the concept of construction during works.

Current state
 
   The church is preserved in good condition and still performs liturgical functions. It belongs to the group of central Pomeranian basilicas (Darłowo, Słupsk, Białogard, Sławno) referring to the corpus of the cathedral in Kamień Pomorski and to the basilica in Pelplin. Among the original equipment now inside the church there is a gothic crucifix from the 14th century, late gothic statues of saints from 1512 from the former gothic altar, and an early gothic baptismal font.

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bibliography:
Jarzewicz J., Architektura średniowieczna Pomorza Zachodniego, Poznań 2019.
Kubicki D., Gotyckie świątynie powiatów koszalińskiego i kołobrzeskiego, Pelplin 2001.
Pilch J., Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012.

Webpage katedrakoszalin.pl, Historia katedry.