Olkusz – St Andrew’s church

History

    The first mention of the Olkusz church dates back to 1317. However, the oldest part of the church, which is now the chancel, was built in the late romanesque style in the 13th century. The church was expanded in the gothic style during the reign of king Casimir the Great in the fourteenth century. At that time, three naves of equal height were erected, supported by huge octagonal pillars. In the first half of the fifteenth century, a St. Anne chapel, sacristy and treasury were built next to the chancel. In 1620, a renaissance chapel of Loreto was built, modeled on the Sigismund Chapel in Wawel, and a large and small porches were added. At the end of the 18th century, next to the church, a chapel of St. John Kanty, and in 1913 a neo-gothic free-standing belfry were erected.

Architecture

   The church from the 14th century was a hall and three-nave structure with a rectangular chancel on the eastern side. During the late Middle Ages, it expanded at the presbytery with a three-bay chapel of St. Anne from the south and also sacristy and treasury from the north. Outside, the church was reinforced with buttresses, between which large and narrow ogival windows with tracery were placed. The chancel and the corpus were covered with steep gable roofs, finished with brick stepped gables with pinnacles and blendes.
   
Four gothic portals have survived, of which the most interesting is from the presbytery to the sacristy and it is closed by a cinquefoil arch, the others are ogival portals. Inside, the central nave is open to the side aisles with ogival arcades, supported on octagonal pillars. The presbytery is also open to the chapel of St. Anna with two bays of ogival arcades. The nave, chancel and the chapel of St. Anna were covered with rib vaults.
   
The most valuable monument of the temple is Polyptych Olkuski, a 15th century gothic altar, made by Cracovian guild painters Jan the Great and Stanisław the Old. In the presbytery there are sixteenth-century timber stalls, that is decorative timber benches, in which clerics sat. Gothic polychromy on the side walls dates from around 1370-1380.

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bibliography:
Krasnowolski B., Leksykon zabytków architektury Małopolski, Warszawa 2013.
Website zabytkowekoscioly.net, Olkusz, kościół św. Andrzeja.