The beginnings of the church and monastery in Miechów date back to the 12th century. When the magnate of Małopolska, Jaksa Gryf, returned happily from the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he decided to fill the oath and build a church in his native village and bring monks here from Jerusalem. He made this decision in 1163 by donating a small temple and setting up monks of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. The first church was too small, therefore in the years 1235-1293 construction of a new romanesque church was started.
The convention consisted mainly of foreigners, mainly Germans and Czechs. In the thirteenth century, the monastery and the church suffered many destructions due to the support of the Czech dynasty of Przemyślids in the fight for the throne of Poland. In 1311, Władysław Łokietek expelled monks by manning the monastery with an armed crew and additionally fortifying it. Monks returned only in 1314 after the change of authorities in the monastery and the relaxation of the princely position.
In 1345 and 1379 fires destroyed the first romanesque church, which was replaced with a new, already erected in the gothic style. These works lasted from 1394-1410. At that time, a new monastery building, also called “the castle” was erected. It was to be the residence of the provosts. In 1506 it burned down, but it was rebuilt in the following years. Another major reconstruction of the church was carried out in the eighteenth century in the baroque style. In 1819, the tsarist authorities executed a dissolution of the monastery, in which the administration institutions were introduced.
The church from the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was a three-span gothic basilica. Its length measured in the central nave is 50 meters and the width is 25 meters. The nave is completed from the west by a stone wall, bricked with a characteristic romanesque structure. A round romanesque window is located above the niche, which houses a medieval fresco. This wall probably comes from the old romanesque church. At the south wall of the church, in its western corner, stands a quadrangular six-storey tower. In the lower part is bricked with stone blocks, in the upper brick with patterns from zendrówka. The last floor was made of material from a romanesque church. In the past, the tower was covered with a gothic hip roof.
The monastery is a quadrangle of buildings formerly with two floors, now with the exception of the north wing, three-storey, surrounding a rectangular courtyard. The monastery’s site directly adjoins the western wall of the church and is connected to it. In the southern cloister near the entrance to the church there is a window with a beautiful gothic frame. Gothic-renaissance cloisters are covered with rib vaults with bosses in the shape of coats of arms.
To the south of the monastery, on the plan of the rectangle, so-called castle of the generals of the order, was built. Next to it is a polygonal tower, with clearly marked two floors, covered with a pyramid roof. It is dated by some researchers even at the end of the 13th century.
Today’s appearance of the church and monastery is in a large extent the effect of the eighteenth-century reconstruction in the late baroque style. From the primal building it stands out a great, romanesque – gothic church tower and a small tower at the seat of the generals of the Order. Currently, in the monastery buildings, there are offices of justice and the Museum of the Miechów Region. The church performs sacred functions.
Krasnowolski B., Leksykon zabytków architektury Małopolski, Warszawa 2013.
Website polskiemuzy.pl, Kolegiata Grobu Bożego w Miechowie.