Lubsko – church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

History

   The first church in Lubsko was probably built around the mid-thirteenth century, although the earliest record of the temple dates back to 1315. This document says about the foundation of the church in 1289, but most probably it was about its first major expansion during which a four-sided chancel was erected, and the walls of the nave were raised to form a hall arrangement. The next expansion took place at the beginning of the fourteenth century, when the northern aisle was expanded.
   In 1496, as a result of a great fire in the town, the church was seriously damaged. The roof and interior burned down, only the walls survived. The rebuilding lasted twenty years, and as a result, the temple was enlarged and decorated with new vaults. After the fire in 1597, the tower was crowned with a renaissance attic, and after 1615 the sacristy was added to the chancel. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the building underwent numerous renovations. From 1526 to 1945 it belonged to the Protestants.

Architecture

   The church was built of carefully laid granite cubes on the market square of Lubsko, in its eastern part, initially located about 1.5 meters below. In the second half of the 13th century it was a three-nave basilica building on a rectangular plan, but at the end of that century the nave was raised, setting brick walls on the original stone walls and transforming the form of the building into a hall one. On the eastern side a narrower, rectangular chancel was situated, and the four-sided tower was built from the west. The outer walls of the church received high, ogival, two-light windows, while the presbytery was additionally reinforced with buttresses. The eastern wall was decorated with a longitudinal, horizontal niche, while the gable was decorated with vertical blendes. The presbytery probably had three rectangular bays and was vaulted. In the next stage of expansion at the beginning of the fourteenth century, the northern aisle was expanded.

   During the reconstruction from the 15th / 16th century, the tower and the western part of the church were left, while the entire eastern part was enlarged, adding the southern aisle to the choir, thus obtaining a hall building without an externally separated chancel. The central aisle received a width of 10.7 meters, while the side aisles only 1.9 and 2 meters, which was a significant difference in width. After raising the church, it was 13.2 meters high, with granite blocks from the demolition of older parts of the church used for the walls. The pillars and vaults were built of bricks.
   The main elements of the church’s external architecture also came from the late Gothic reconstruction, including the rich gable of the eastern facade, stepped, decorated with rectangular, cross-divided blendes and topped with pinnacles. Inside, the church received beautiful net vaults in the central nave and unusual net and stellar-shaped vaults in the aisles, set on new octagonal pillars with a semi-pillar on the side of the aisles. The side aisles were divided by narrow arcades into bays, each of which has a very large window with tracery. Due to the long and narrow bays, the vault key in the longitudinal section has been raised and in the cross section lowered.
   The last stage of late medieval reconstruction was associated with the placement of the gallery over the aisles and on the west side. To support the gallery, the pillars in the lower part were increased, leaving a narrow passage along the aisles. The bays were covered with transverse barrel vaults, only in two eastern bays on the southern side were rib vaults, regular net and stellar without diagonal ribs.

Current state

   The church has survived to this day in a late Gothic form with a distinctive early Gothic tower (slightly raised in the 15th century) and a magnificent late-medieval eastern gable. Its characteristic element are now very large windows, extremely low set in longitudinal walls, which is, however, the result of raising the ground level by up to 1.5 meters. It is difficult to say if their traceries are original, while in the church interior has survived late-medieval figural polychromes.

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bibliography:
Kowalski S., Zabytki architektury województwa lubuskiego, Zielona Góra 2010.
Kozaczewska-Golasz H., Halowe kościoły z XIII wieku na Śląsku, Wrocław 2015.
Kozaczewska-Golasz H., Halowe kościoły z wieku XV i pierwszej połowy XVI na Śląsku, Wrocław 2018.

Kozaczewska H., Średniowieczne kościoły halowe na Śląsku, “Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki”, 1-4, Warszawa 2013.