Bardejov – St Giles Church

History

   The first mention of the parish church in Bardejov dates from 1247. It belonged at that time to the Cistercian Abbey in Koprzywnica in Poland. Its members settled in the area of ​​Šariš at the beginning of the 13th century and stayed in Bardejov until around 1269, when the town became a royal property again. Another document testifying the existence of the church dates back to 1320, and the first local priests, John and Henry, were mentioned in 1330 in relation with paying a fairly high papal rent of 24 groschen. In 1352, the king allowed the town of Bardejov to organize annual fairs after the feast of Saint Giles, patron of the local church. Soon afterwards, the town authorities decided to thoroughly rebuild the temple, or building a new one on the site of the original church.
  
The construction of the St Giles church began around the mid-fourteenth century, and the first stage, that is the construction of the nave, was completed until 1415. In 1448, the enlargement and reconstruction of the temple began. Under the direction of master Mikuláš Lapicid, the sacristy and the chancel were added, the vaulting of which after a short time collapsed, probably as a result of structural errors. To repair the church, in 1464 was called master Štefan from Košice, who at that time took part in the construction of the Košice Cathedral of St. Elizabeth. In the church of St. Giles, in addition to the renovation, he added the chapel of St. Catherine over the sacristy. In 1462, wanting to beautify their temple, the townspeople of Bardejov turned to master James of Polish Sącz for the construction of a new, magnificent altar. In the years 1482-1486, from the south, three chapels were added, and the fifteenth century tower was also built on the south side. The construction and furnishing of the church was completed with a vaults of the central nave in the years 1513 – 1518.
  
In subsequent centuries, the church suffered numerous disasters. In addition to several large fires, it were mainly earthquakes. The first of it took place in 1725, when the tower collapsed, the second in 1836, when the walls of the church broke in three places. The catastrophic fire on Easter Monday in 1878, when almost the entire town burned, also brought significant damages to the church. It also forced a thorough renovation combined with reconstruction. During it, the architect Imrich Steindl removed the renaissance traces, that were replaced by neo-gothic ones. In 1898, the church tower was rebuilt. The pillars and walls of the central nave and chapel’s vaults were also renovated.

Architecture

   The church consists of a basilica corpus with three aisles and three bays and a chancel of equal height and width as the nave. Before presbytery construction, the church from the east ended with a four-sided apse. The chancel is two-side ended. A rebuilt tower is attached to the south-west corner of the nave, covered with a pyramidal helmet. The church outside is surrounded with buttresses, between which there are large, pointed windows with traceries. From the north side, the sacristy adjoins the chancel with the chapel of St. Catherine on the first floor. Both parts come from the second half of the fifteenth century. To the south side of the nave in the years 1482 – 1486 three gothic chapels were added: the Virgin Mary, Saint Elizabeth and Saint Andrew. The interiors of the church are covered with irregular net vaults (central nave, chancel, chapels, sacristy) and rib vaults (asles). The chancel arch is pointed.
   Inside, there are valuable monuments from the Middle Ages. Among them, the eleven gothic triptychs (winged altars) stand out, among others the altar of St. Anna from the end of the 14th century, the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows from 1430-1440 and one of the most valuable in Slovakia, the altar of the Nativity. Other gothic monuments include a bronze baptismal font from the 15th century, a stone tabernacle, stalls from the 15th century and a gothic group of the Crucifixion from 1485, placed on a chancel arch.

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bibliography:
Website obnova.sk, History and architecture of the cathedral in Bardejov.
Website rkfubardejov.sk, Bazilika sv. Egídia.