Siewierz – church of St John the Baptist


   Church of St. John the Baptist in Siewierz was built in 1144 or 1164 from the foundation of Piotr Dunin Włast, the palatine of prince Bolesław Krzywousty. Originally around the church was a settlement, but most likely after the Mongol invasions of the 13th century it was moved closer to the castle. The church lost than its function as a parish.
Probably in the 17th century the original beam ceiling above the nave was replaced by a barrel vault, which in turn influenced the need to reinforce the external walls with buttresses. As part of the work carried out in 1696, both church gables were elevated, the roof structure was erected, the baroque ridge turret was erected, and the porch was added on the front. In this form the church survived until 1945. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, a cemetery was erected in the vicinity of the temple and church of St. John the Baptist was than a cemetery chapel. During the conservation work carried out in 1947-1956 damaged cradle vault was reconstructed, and also early modern elements were removed, stripped 17th-century buttreses, ridge turret and porch.


   The church is made in romanesque style of ashlar sandstone. The building measures 6 x 9 meters. It consists of a nave on a rectangular plan, and a small apse from the east. Entrance to the church, located on the west, is accentuated by a stone, semi-circle portal with a smooth tympanum plate.
   The interior of the nave originally was covered by a flat timber ceiling and illuminated by three romanesque window openings on both longer sides and single one in the west facade. In the western part of the nave there are traces of stone matroneum. It was a gallery on three fields of the cross vault, supported on two pillars and flowing on the pilasters in the side walls of the nave and brackets in the western wall. Only wooden stairs placed along one of the side walls could enter it.
   The altar apse, preceded by two steps, is separated by a arch and a slight step marked with lesenes. Its interior is illuminated by a small romanesque window opening. In the apse there is original stipes, that is the altar base. On the walls of the apse there are traces of polychromes dating back to the twelfth century.

Current state

   The church is one of the oldest monuments of Polish architecture. Its historical, artistic and scientific value is testified by the very good conservation of antique materials from the 12th century. The only mistake during the renovation was the use of a barrel vault instead of a timber ceiling. Access to the interior of the monument is unfortunately limited. The church is open on St. Paul’s Day. John the Baptist and the Day of Sorrow.

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Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Górnego Śląska, Warszawa 2008.
Tomaszewski A., Romańskie kościoły z emporami zachodnimi na obszarze Polski, Czech i Węgier, Wrocław 1974.
Świechowski Z., Sztuka romańska w Polsce, Warszawa 1990.

Website, Kościół fil. pw. św. Jana Chrzciciela Siewierz.