Wrocław – castle church of St Martin


   Church of St. Martin was probably founded by Prince Henryk Probus as the church of the monastery dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and also a chernel house. It was built in the 80s of the thirteenth century probably by the master builder Wiland. In view of Probus’s foundation of the collegiate church, work on the chapel and its neighboring south-east monastery were probably interrupted in 1287. According to Probus’s will, the funeral in the chancel of the collegiate church was to be temporary, and after the completion of the St. Martin’s church and the convent of the Blessed Virgin Mary, transfer of the burial would have taken place, but it never happened. The church of the Blessed Virgin Mary was completed in the 14th century in a very simplistic way and much lower than planned. At the same time, the call of St. Martin was transferred to it.
   After the castle was demolished, the church was located at a central square, surrounded by canons. In the interwar period it served to the Wrocław Polonia. During World War II it was heavily damaged. Up to the 1970s, it seems unlikely that it was once a castle chapel. It was rebuilt in 1957-1960 by Tadeusz Kozaczewski.


   Initially, the church was made of an oblong chancel and an adjacent eight-sided nave with an outside diameter of about 12.5 meters. The church was originally a three-level building. It had ground floor placed partly in the ground, intended for sarcophags, the main floor intended for liturgical functions and the upper floor in the form of a gallery surrounding the chapel, supported by massive buttresses. Octagonal nave was covered with a pyramid roof with a wooden lantern, in contact with the gable roof of the chancel. The external architecture was created by vertical buttresses with recesses in the lower part and gallery windows in the upper part.
   The main entrance, accessible from external stairs and the vestibule between the two buttresses, led from the north side, that is from the side of the castle courtyard. Two tracks of spiral stairs connected the basement with the main level of the chapel and the main level with the upper gallery. They were located in two thickest, front buttresses flanking the main entrance mentioned above.
   The deepened ground floor was to be covered with a vault supported by a single pillar in the middle of the octagonal nave, and the main floor with a presbytery have a rib vaults. The gallery was intended for nuns participating in prayers for the soul of the prince and was available from the monastery through a special passage on the arcade. Gallery was 2.1 meters wide, rising 3.6 meters above the level of the first floor, and its height could reach 6-7 meters. From the inside of the chapel, the gallery was separated by arcades and a sill, in accordance with the requirements of the monastic rule.

Current state

   Church of St. Martin is the only survived building belonging to the former Piast’s castle in Wrocław, but it has survived to this day in a strongly changed form. Part of the nave was reduced to the old size, superstructured and covered with a roof, which gave it a tower shape. In 1968, the outline of the old buttresses was reconstructed, which could help to visualize the original appearance.

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Małachowicz E., Wrocławski zamek książęcy i kolegiata św. Krzyża na Ostrowie, Wrocław 1994.

Strona internetowa wikipedia.org, Kościół św. Marcina we Wrocławiu.