Kraków – St Mark’s Church

History

   The church of St. Mark was founded in 1263 by Prince Bolesław the Chaste for the monks of the the rule of St. Augustine, brought from Prague, which in Poland was called “Marks” after the name of the church’s patron or the “Horners” from the shape of hats worn by monks. Building may have begun in the second half of the thirteenth century from the construction of the chancel, and continued during the fourteenth century. The church was mentioned in a bull of Pope Boniface VIII from 1295, and it appeared in the city books of Kraków for the first time in 1306. In 1397, the superior of the monastery, Jan Bozemiecz, concluded a contract for the construction of the church roof with carpentry master Konrad Glocke. The nave was certainly completed by 1410, when it was mentioned in connection with the burials of confreres there.
   In 1494, the church and the nearby monastery were destroyed by fire, from which only the chancel survived. The reconstruction began very quickly the following year and continued in 1496.
Further fires destroyed the temple in 1528 and 1589. After 1528, gables were probably built, and after the second fire the church was thoroughly renovated and re-consecrated. In 1617 a bell tower was added and a porch next to it was erected.
  
In the first half of the 17th century, the interior of the church was completely modernized, the nave was also rebuilt and the chancel changed. At the beginning of the 19th century, the church with the monastery was taken over by the Austrian government and intended for the house of priests of pensioners. In the years 1972-1974 the church underwent a thorough restoration.

Architecture

   During the Middle Ages, the church consisted of a three-bay and two-aisle hall nave and an elongated chancel with a three-sided closure on the eastern side, originally surrounded by a cemetery. The foundations and the high pedestal of the chancel were built of unworked stone, while the higher parts were made of bricks laid in the monk and Flemish bonds. The nave was built in a different arrangement of walls (Polish bond) with a lower stone part at the bottom. Outside, the nave and chancel were fastened with buttresses and at the top covered with gable roofs, while the roof above the nave is higher, with triangular gables decorated with ogival blendes.
   Inside the nave was divided into two aisles by two pillars, with both pairs of buttresses on the line of pillars. Therefore, it is likely that the central bay was covered with a cross rib vault with four support points, which were pillars from the inside and buttresses from the outside. In the eastern and western bays, the vaults were probably based on three supports. After a fire from the end of the 15th century or one of the 16th-century disasters, during the reconstruction the interior was transformed into a three-aisle one with new vaults.
   In the 17th century, the chancel was joined from the south-east to a tower – a belfry housing the chapel of the Mother of God in the ground floor, and further from the south a porch and chapel of Our Lady of Częstochowa. Despite the late date of construction, the tower strongly referred to the Gothic style.

Current state

   As a result of numerous fires and rebuildings, from the outside the church has preserved only a generally Gothic block, distorted by the early modern window openings. The interior of the temple, which is not available to the public on a daily basis, has also been heavily baroqueized. On the outer wall of the chancel from the east, there are late-Gothic sculptures from around 1500.

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bibliography:
Goras M., Zaginione gotyckie kościoły Krakowa, Kraków 2003.

Krasnowolski B., Leksykon zabytków architektury Małopolski, Warszawa 2013.
Website swietymarek.pl, Historia.