Skalbmierz – church of St John the Baptist

History

   The first romanesque church in Skalbierz was erected at the end of the 12th or early 13th century. According to tradition, the foundations of the church are attributed to the Skarbimir Awdaniec, but the chronicler Jan Długosz believed that the temple was founded by a Cracow bishop. In 1235 prince Konrad Mazowiecki ordered the reconstruction and fortification of the church.
  
In 1443, as a result of the earthquake, vaults of the church and part of the walls collapsed. This explains the origin of the present Gothic building, erected with the use of earlier walls and towers. In the third quarter of the 15th century a nave was built, and the chancel in the end of 15th century. At the beginning of the 16th century a sacristy and a treasury with the upper floor were built.
  
In the first half of the 17th century the church was renovated, combined with the rebuilding of the western façade and the replacement of vaults in the aisles. Then a large part of the existing equipment was replaced for the late Baroque. In 1819 the collegiate was remove, which was functioning here. In 1853 a porch was erected on the northern façade of the church, and in 1873-1875 it was completely renovated. In 1906 the church suffered a fire, which resulted in the burning of part of the interior. Renovation works were carried out shortly after the fire and in the post-war period.

Architecture

   The original Romanesque church was an aisleless building, quite long with an apse from the east. Inside, on the west side, there was a gallery, suspended at an impressive height of 6 meters above the floor level. It was climbed by steep stairs, placed in the thickness of the southern wall of the nave. It is not known whether the gallery was set on a single pillar supporting two bays of the cross vault, or on a barrel vault, over the entire width of the nave, which was 7 meters.
   In the second phase of the Romanesque extension, two four-sided towers on the western side were added. They were of considerable size, as they measured over 20 meters in height and formed a kind of western massif, much wider than the nave. The towers had lower placed windows and a higher biforas. The ground floors of towers were connected with nave by small portals, and the floors by portals with a gallery. The old stairs in the wall thickness of the nave were still used to enter the gallery.

   
In the Gothic period, the church was transformed into an orientated, three-aisle basilica with a three-bay, square nave and a rectangular chancel ended polygonally on the east side. At the junction of the nave and the chancel, on both sides, there were quadrilateral old towers. To the north of them was added a rectangular building in the early 16th century, containing a treasury with stairs in thick walls and a two-bay sacristy. Stone and brick facades had pointed windows with partially preserved tracery. The interior of the church was covered with barrel-cross vaults in the nave and western porch, as well as cross-rib vaults in the chancel, sacristy and chapel in the ground floor of the tower.

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bibliography:
Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Tomaszewski A., Romańskie kościoły z emporami zachodnimi na obszarze Polski, Czech i Węgier, Wrocław 1974.

Website zabytek.pl, Kościół kolegiacki pw. Jana Chrzciciela, ob. par. pw. św. Jana Chrzciciela Skalbmierz.