The monastery was erected after 1453 on the initiative of John Capistran, the founder of the Bernardine Order, who came from Italy. The erection of the brick church began in 1466, although the consecration took place only in 1502. The church carried the call of St. Bernard of Siena.
In 1522 the town council ordered the Bernardines to leave the monastery. The friars offended by this decision left the town demonstratively. The monastery was converted to a hospital and the church became a Protestant parish church. Starting from 1674, there was also a library. The site was repeatedly destroyed by fires. The most serious in 1628 destroyed the walls of the western façade of the church, the vaults and the organ choir, and, quite seriously, the monastery buildings. The renovation was completed only in 1634. In the years 1703-1704 was built the baroque west gable, and in 1704-1707 timber matronea in the aisles of the church. In 1853, a rather unsuccessful reconstruction of the church was conducted. In 1871 the gothic, eastern range of the monastery was dismantled, replacing by the pseudo-gothic, and in 1872 the monastery was dismantled. Another reconstruction of both the church and the monastery was conducted between 1898-1901. In this condition, the site survived until the end of World War II. In 1945 the losses were estimated at 60%. The reconstruction was carried out in 1947-1949 and 1957-1967 according to projects and supervised by Edmund Malachowicz.
The monastery church is a late-gothic, three-nave basilica with an elongated polygonally finished chancel. It was erected from brick, however, every few layers of stone. The tower, low due to the proximity of the town fortifications, was placed in the corner between the nave and the presbytery, on the south side. Inside, the irregularly spaced pillars of the cross plan, separate the naves. The cetral nave and the chancel have stellar vaults, and the aisles have rib vaults. The presbytery was originally separated from the nave by a rood screen.
A gothic chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was added to the south-west corner of the church. From this side, the monastery buildings were also added to the church. In 1492, there were three ranges around it. In the north there was a sacristy with a vestibule on one pillar. The wide western range and south range housed the cloisters and refectory, that is dining room of the convent. The latter was connected with a free-standing kitchen. In the southern range on the first floor there was a dormitory, that is a bedroom of monks. The eastern range erected at the latest, around 1500, housed a chapter house and a chapel extended eastwards to the chapel. The quadrangle of the monastery surrounded an inner courtyard. In 1517, the south range was extended westwards, presumably for the reception of monastery visitors. This range, the church’s corpus and the quadrangle of the monastery were surrounded by a second garden.
To modern times, the Bernardine monastery has survived almost entirely. The exception is the baroque gable of the church facade and the unfinished eastern range of the monastery, replaced by a nasty, modernist building that shames the city. It qualifies for quick demolition and restoration of the original appearance. The church and the monastery are now open to the public. Inside is located the Museum of Architecture. Open on Tuesdays 11: 00-17: 00, Wednesdays 10: 00-16: 00, Thursdays 12: 00-19: 00, Friday – Sunday 11: 00-17: 00.
Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Pilch J, Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warszawa 2005.
Website zabytki.pl, Muzeum Architektury we Wrocławiu.