Warszawa – basilica of St John the Baptist

History

     The first temple in the place of today’s chancel was a wooden chapel built at the turn of the 13th and 14th century. This chapel at the beginning of the 14th century became the parish church of the city. From 1321 came a mention of Gunter, the Warsaw vicar, and in 1338 a suit against the Teutonic Knights was imposed on the door of the temple. Around 1390, on the initiative of prince Janusz I the Elder, a brick gothic building was built, which became the burial place of the Mazovian princes. In 1406, the parish church became a collegiate church.
   
In 1602, a massive gothic western tower collapsed as a result of the hurricane, partially destroying the interior of the temple. During the reconstruction, the facade of the church was changed by building a new, early baroque. After 1763 the sacristy was built. In the years 1837-1842, because of poor technical condition, the temple was rebuilt from government funds in the style of english neo-gothic. It was created, among others, a new facade with a central tower.
   
The temple was almost completely destroyed by the Germans in 1944. It was reconstructed in 1948-1956, based on the plans of the original church from the 14th century, according to the project of reconstruction by Jan Zachwatowicz and Maria and Kazimierz Piechotkowie. Postwar facade is a new realization, built in the style of the so-called gothic style and modeled on the facade of the Dominican church in Chełmno. In the years 2012-2015 the cathedral was carrying out extensive renovation works. Among others facades were renovated and special educational routes were created.

Architecture

   The cathedral was most likely established in two construction phases. First, around 1390, a three-span, three-sided ended chancel was erected, while in the second stage, after 1406, a three-nave, five-span, hall corpus. This is evidenced by differences in the shape of buttresses and vaults as well as the height of the foundations of cornices and windows. Originally, on the eastern side of the church there was a tower, built into the first span of the central nave. Its ground floor served as a porch. At the end of the main works, in 1428, the chapel of the Virgin Mary and St. Anne was erected. It was situated on the south side of the nave, it served as an exclusive oratory, connected by an indoor porch with a nearby castle.
   
Inside the church, slender octagonal pillars were inserted, connected by profiled arcades. They are placed very high and penetrate into the vault zone, which was hung on brackets. The ribs are arranged in the form of stars with a diverse number of arms. The church closing works were completed in 1465, and until the end of the 15th century, only a few bourgeois chapels were added, and the tower was raised and topped with a conical tower at the beginning of the 16th century.
   
The present-day west elevation of the church is the result of post-war reconstruction and refers to the Masovian gothic. It is divided by buttresses, between which there are three windows, and a brick portal in the middle. The façade is topped with a stone frieze and a stepped gable.

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bibliography:
Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Walczak M., Kościoły gotyckie w Polsce, Kraków 2015.
Żabicki J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Mazowsza i Podlasia, Warszawa 2010.
Website wikipedia.org, Bazylika archikatedralna św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie.