The first mention of the parish in Żarnowo dates from 1191. At that time, it was donated by prince Kazimierz the Just to the collegiate of Sandomierz. It follows that the church was originally a prince’s property and served as a chapel for the nearby hillfort. In 1510 it was expanded to the east, where a new late gothic chapel was built. Unfortunately, after the fire in 1893, the church was rebuilt to become only a transverse aisle of a large, neo-gothic building.
The original romanesque church was orientated towards the sides of the world. It consisted of a rectangular nave with a width of 6.4 meters, a short chancel on the east and probably an apse. On the west there was a round tower, adjacent to the facade of the nave. The nave had a division into two bays, accentuated outside by buttresses – lesenes, and inside by pilasters. This proves the intention to cover the interior of the nave with a cross vault, which would be an exceptional element in Poland. The tower, just like in the church in Inowłodz, housed a spiral staircase leading to a gallery, which was based on a column, marking two squares of the cross vault, close to the square.
The second phase, gothic, resulted in the expansion of the chancel towards the east, at the site of the earlier apse. The chancel was erected on a rectangular plan, with cornered, sloping buttresses. Longitudinal walls were also originally reinforced with a pair of buttresses. In the lateral walls of the nave there are romanesque pilasters decorated with motifs of acanthus leaves and fantastic animals.
Tomaszewski A., Romańskie kościoły z emporami zachodnimi na obszarze Polski, Czech i Węgier, Wrocław 1974.
Świechowski Z., Sztuka romańska w Polsce, Warszawa 1990.
Website zabytek.pl, Kościół parafialny pw. św. Mikołaja Żarnów.