Malbork – St John’s Church

History

   The first church in Malbork was built at the end of the 13th century. It survived until the Thirteen Years’ War, when in the years 1457-1460 it was destroyed during the siege of the castle and the town. Work on the construction of the present church began in 1467 and lasted until 1523. In 1534, most of the late Gothic diamond vaults collapsed, rebuilt soon after, but in a different form. After a fire in 1668, church was shortened by one bay. The building was severely damaged again in 1945 when the town was conquered by the Soviet army.

Architecture

   The church was situated in the north-west part of the town, in close proximity to the defensive walls separating the town from the Teutonic castle. It received the form of a late-Gothic hall with three aisles of equal height and originally six bays (today five, in the north-eastern corner, a rectangular sacristy was placed in place of the demolished bay) with a row of shallow chapels between buttress at the southern and northern elevations. A low square tower with a porch in the ground floor and a wooden upper part was added to the southern aisle. The whole church was covered with gable roofs, separate for each aisle.
   The eastern façade of the church, distinguished, the most decorative, as it faced the road leading from the town to the castle, was adorned by octagonal towers. It received a biaxial form, fragmented with four twin blendes closed with a ogee arches, and also topped with a frieze surrounded by a half-shafts bricks.
   The interior was originally covered entirely with diamond vaults, but after their collapse, the church was covered with net vaults, except for the two eastern bays of the southern aisle with older diamond vaults. Cross vaults were most often used in shallow chapels. The vault of the nave was supported by four pairs of octagonal pillars and eight wall half-pillars, as well as corbles, some of which in the southern aisle were shaped like heads with individualized features. The furnishings of the church include a Gothic baptismal font from the fourteenth century, a stone statue of Saint Elizabeth from around 1410, and a Gothic crucifix from the fifteenth century.

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bibliography:
Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Rzempołuch A., Kościoły na Warmii, Mazurach i Powiślu, Olsztyn 1991.

Website zabytkowekoscioly.net, Malbork, kościół św. Jana Chrzciciela.