It is not known who was the founder of the collegiate, and the exact time of commencement and completion of its construction is not known either. One can only assume that the time of building of the church was in the second quarter of the twelfth century. The oldest reference dates back to 1206 and testifies to the existence of a canonical congregation at the time. The first, major reconstruction took place in the second quarter of the thirteenth century, which was probably carried out by a workshop of Cistercian builders active in erecting the abbey buildings in Wąchock. The most serious reconstruction took place in the first half of the 16th century, after the church was burnt down in 1502, during the Tatar assault on Lesser Poland. At that time, the transept and presbytery gained gothic gables, the walls were raised and the windows were pierced. The temple was also renovated in the second half of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In 1710-1740, thanks to the prelate and dean Maciej Flaszyński, the collegiate church was rebuilt and thoroughly renovated, as well as new equipment has been made.
Collegiate church of St. Martin, was built from notably worked sandstone, as a three-nave basilica with a transept, with two towers from the west and with a square chancel and three apses from the east. Between the towers there is a romanesque main portal with a gothic portal embedded on it. In the west façade the frieze with zoomorphic relief draws attention. The romanesque portal is also located in the north porch, decorated with floral motifs, in which the coats of arms of Łabędź and Odrowąż are integrated.
Inside, the central nave orginally was covered with a wooden ceiling, which was supported by semicircular arcades and four-sided pillars with a width equal to the thickness of the nave walls. The original appearance of the interior was dominated by large flat surfaces of the walls in which the windows were cut. Between the towers there was a porch, open outside with three arcades, supported by columns. The portal was located deep inside the eastern walls of the towers. Above the porch, probably covered with a wooden beam ceiling, there was a gallery, connected with small portals with the towers floors and accessible via wooden stairs placed in towers. It is not known that this plan was finally fully implemented, because soon the southern tower was raised, and later, in the 14th century, the arcades in the ground floor were bricked up. The entrance portal was then moved to the south side, and a crypt was built between the towers. Also in the fourteenth century, the northern tower was leveled with the south one. It was not until the fifteenth century that the portal on the axis of the west façade was again located, the crypt was liquidated, and the gallery was extended on the late gothic coffer ceiling. During the gothic reconstruction of the transept and chancel, gothic gables have been added.
Collegiate church occupies a unique place among the monuments of romanesque architecture in Poland, as one of the few well-preserved basilicas. It is open to visitors, it also still has liturgical functions.
Jarzewicz J., Kościoły romańskie w Polsce, Kraków 2014.
Tomaszewski A., Romańskie kościoły z emporami zachodnimi na obszarze Polski, Czech i Węgier, Wrocław 1974.
Świechowski Z., Sztuka romańska w Polsce, Warszawa 1990.
Website wikipedia.org, Kolegiata św. Marcina w Opatowie.