Mołtajny – St Anna’s Church


   Mołtajny (Molteinen) was granted a location privilege in 1364, renewed in the years 1374 – 1379. In these acts, the local parish was endowed with four free voloks of land. Its stone, but small and simple church was built quite early, around the second thirty years of the fourteenth century. In its original form, it functioned for a relatively long time. Presumably, initially, the expansion was not necessary due to the small number of inhabitants or the lack of funds, and in the 15th century, construction work could be suspended for a long time due to the continuous Polish-Teutonic wars.
   Around 1459 – 1460, construction works were carried out at the sacristy, when the wood used in the construction of its roof truss was cut. In 1479, a new roof truss was installed over the nave, which was extended to the west between 1480 and 1485 (at the turn of 1484 and 1485, the timber for the roof truss of the new part was cut). Then, in the first quarter of the 16th century, a late Gothic tower was built.
   From the time of the Reformation, the church belonged to the Evangelical community, which changed the interior design due to the changed needs of the cult and a new fashion, and in 1650 renovated the roof of the tower. After the Second World War, the building was taken over by the Catholic population. In the years 1989 – 1991 the church underwent a major renovation, and in 2009 the tower was restored.


   The church was built of erratic stones, used mainly in the eastern part of the nave, and bricks laid in the Flemish bond (alternating header and stretcher), used together with stones in the western part of the church nave and the lower parts of the tower. The upper storeys of the tower were built entirely of bricks.
   The body of the church was formed from a rectangular aisleless nave, 30.2 meters long and 13.3 meters wide. On the north side there was a sacristy, built in the eastern part, and a porch, located more or less in the middle. At the western wall of the nave, on the axis, a four-sided four-story tower was built, tied with the nave in the ground floor. The tower had dimensions of 7.9 x 8.7 meters.
   The walls of the nave were reinforced with buttresses from the east and south. From the north, they were unnecessary due to two annexes added to the nave wall. The two-phase structure of the nave influenced the appearance of its façades: straight, stone in the older eastern part, and built in a mixed stone and brick structure, decorated with blendes with double heads in the western part. The northern wall probably did not originally have windows, the lighting was provided, in accordance with the medieval custom, only by the windows from the south and east, where two windows separated by a buttress were inserted. The horizontal division of the elevation was ensured by a plastered band under the eaves of the roof.
   The gable roof of the nave from the east rested on a magnificent nine-axis gable, vertically separated by blendes in a pyramidal system and triangular  pilaster strips turning into pinnacles. The horizontal division of the gable was provided by plastered friezes, also led along pilaster strips. Moreover, in the lower part of the fourth and sixth axis there was palced a semicircular blende topped with a wimperg. Both wimpergs were decorated with fleurons and crockets. The five-axis gable of the sacristy received a similar but slightly simplified form (blendes and pilaster strips not cut by friezes, no wimpergs), while the three-axis gable of the porch was distinguished by three round holes in the upper parts of the blendes.
   In the ground floor of the tower, instead of the western portal, arcades leading to the under-tower porch were embedded from the north and south, more characteristic of municipal parish churches than of sacral rural buildings. The façades of the tower were decorated with densely spaced, pointed blendes, on the first three floors, usually four in a row. Only from the north and south, due to the arcades, low pointed and double headed blendes were placed. On the top floor, there were two openings with stepped jambs on each side, flanked by two blendes, over which a plastered frieze was led.

Current state

   The church, preserved to this day, has concentrated the best features of the local building tradition developed in the northern part of the former Barcja region: good proportions, excellent workmanship and rich architectural detail with a magnificent eastern gable and gables of the porch and sacristy. Early modern changes are: renovated buttresses, a changed shape of windows and new openings in the northern wall, new gables of the tower (probably rebuilt in the 17th century), and a vault in the nave.

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Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler der Provinz Ostpreußen, Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler in Natangen, red. A.Boetticher, Königsberg 1892.
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Rzempołuch A., Przewodnik po zabytkach sztuki dawnych Prus Wschodnich, Olsztyn 1992.