Strzelce Krajeńskie – St Mary’s Church


   The construction of St. Mary’s church began at the end of the 13th century, probably in the 80’s or 90’s. After being burnt by the Hussites in 1433, it was restored and rebuilt from the basilica to a pseudo-basilica building. The next reconstruction and regothisation took place in the years 1855-1860. The matroneum was then introduced into the interior, the walls and pillars were plastered, the porches were added, the windows of the side aisles were rebuilt and new equipment was founded. In 1945 the church was burnt and the interior was damaged or dispersed. After the war damages, the temple was rebuilt in 1958-1973, and as a result, the form of the basilica was preserved in the external shape of the church, whereas the pseudo-basilica form is in the interior.


   The temple was built of brick bond with lime mortar and partly of carefully worked granite blocks, north of the town square market. The building was orientated towards the sides of the world, which is why it is situated diagonally to the streets network. It was erected on a rectangular plan with a four-sided tower on the west side and a sacristy with a gallery on the first floor, placed on the north-eastern side, within the rectangular plan. The church’s nave received three aisles of six bays, without a separate presbytery (it was only slightly suggested by extending the middle part of the eastern façade). The outer, side elevations of the aisles have not been segmented by buttresses, while they were decorated with doubled ogival (in the south) and trefoil (in the north) blendes. The east gable was decorated with pyramidal blendes, culminating in the form of a cross blende, flanked with smaller niches. In Strzelce, the traditional form of the blende gable was modified, drilling additional niches in the blende fields. A third plane was created in this way and a new chiaroscuro effect was obtained. The church tower was given four storeys with a rich decoration made of ogival blendes.
   Originally, the church was an original basilica building with external walls of the side aisles lower than the inter-nave arcades, with the central nave lighting up through the windows above the roofs of the side aisles. The interior was initially unusually covered with an open roof truss (perhaps the model of the Augustinians church in Erfurt or the mendicant churches in Italy, Rhineland or Thuringia). This is indicated by the eastern window reaching deep into the field of the gable. The resignation of the vaults allowed to uplift of the relatively thin walls of the central nave, while maintaining a compact outline of the church corpus. With a considerable range of arcades and elongated bays in the side aisles, a wide and high central nave was also obtained (about three times wider than the side aisles), culminating in a large and slender window in the eastern wall.
   During the reconstruction of the fifteenth century pseudo-basilica space was introduced with the main nave lighting only through the windows of the side aisles. The reason for this was the introduction of stellar vaults in the central nave and aisles. In the sacristy, a cross-rib vault was used. Since the late Gothic reconstruction, the church was covered with a single roof over all naves.

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Jarzewicz J., Architektura średniowieczna Pomorza Zachodniego, Poznań 2019.
Pilch J., Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012.

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