In the sixties of the thirteenth century, the first granite church in Myślibórz was built. It was soon destroyed during the invasion of Duke Bolesław the Pious in 1271, but in 1298, under the decision of Margrave Albrecht III, a collegiate chapter was established.
The present building was erected in the 14th century, probably until around 1370. The work probably started from the chancel, perhaps using the southern wall of the older church, and certainly using the material from its demolition. At the same time, the construction of towers was also started, but in the middle of the 15th century quite significant changes took place: the perimeter walls and windows of the naves were increased, as well as the inter-nave arcades, the upper floor of the tower was added and the chapel and annexes next to the choir were erected.
In 1433, the building was burnt by the Hussites. In 1538, due to the introduction of Lutheranism in Pomerania, the temple became a Protestant congregation. In 1539 the city’s great fire damaged the collegiate church. The destruction was so serious that for about fifty years as the parish church functioned the Dominican monastery church. The collegiate church was rebuilt in the years 1582-93. In 1630 during the Thirty Years’ War the temple suffered because of the looting of the imperial troops, and in 1655 because of the fire. The reconstruction was carried out in the 1770s, when some of the vaults were replaced. In the nineteenth century, the roofs were repaired and the facades were partially renovated. At the beginning of the 20th century, a thorough renovation of the church was carried out.
The church was erected with granite blocks and bricks in the monk bond, on the square occupying the area east of the market square. This square was originally surrounded by buildings and only fairly narrow passages connected it with the market and the neighboring streets. The building was erected as orientated towards the sides of the world, three-aisle, hall with a narrower, straightly ended chancel on the east side and with a square tower from the west. From the north, two annexes were added: one at the nave, probably originally a chapel, and the second at the chancel where the sacristy is located.
The nave is a compact block covered with a large gable roof, which ridge reaches almost the crown of the tower walls. The chancel repeats the shape of the nave, but on a slightly smaller scale. The only variation of the side elevations are buttresses, between which fairly narrow ogival windows have been arranged with slanted-up reveals. The chancel facade has been enriched with an offset, extending above the height of window sills. However tower elevations are distinguished by decorating with blendes. Originally, tower was one floor lower, therefore its upper storey differs in the use of late Gothic arches, and the walls are vertical as opposed to slightly narrowing upwards lower floors. The western and eastern gables were fragmented with ogival and round blendes in a stepped arrangement.
The ground floor of the tower was opened outside with three wide arcades, and the fourth was communicated with the central nave. In the interior a quadrilateral space was created, occupying the height of two storeys and covered with a cross-ribbed vault based on cylindrical ancillary columns. The central nave is more than twice as wide as the side aisles, separated by massive, octagonal pillars carrying ogival arcades. Interestingly, you can see the gradual extension of the bays towards the west, with the biggest difference being the western and central bay. At the chancel arch and the western wall the arcades were based on half-pillars parapets. Half-octagonal pillars on which medieval (not preserved) vaults were based were also placed at the side aisles.
To this day, the church has preserved its Gothic shape with partially reface facades and without original vaults in the nave and chancel. Also in the walls of the chancel of the present church there are significant parts of the walls of the original Romanesque building with a regular arrangement of carefully worked blocks. A archivolite of the Romanesque portal has been preserved in the southern wall of the chancel.
Jarzewicz J., Architektura średniowieczna Pomorza Zachodniego, Poznań 2019.
Pilch J., Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012.
Website mysliborz.info.pl, Kolegiata p.w. św. Jana Chrzciciela w Myśliborzu.