Gdansk – St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church in Gdańsk

Contrary to appearances, reaching the largest church in Poland – ba! one of the largest in Europe – it's not that simple, as if it might seem. Moving on narrow, Through the tightly built streets of the Main Town, it is not easy to see the tower of this temple, which, after all, overwhelms not only the old buildings with its enormity, but also modern office buildings. You can use several routes leading to the Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. From Długa Street, it is best to turn into one of the streets leading to the north (Weaving, Lectic, Leathercraft, Kramarska) and walk to Piwna, running along the southern wall of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Długa Pobrzeże to the church: Mariacka, Chlebnicka, Holy Spirit. Coming from the North, that is, from the Old Town, from where you can clearly see the purpose of the trip, it's best to get to Grobla Street, and then it will be easy.

The history of the basilica

The origins of the temple date back to the first half of the 13th century. W 1266 r. in a wooden church, standing in that place at that time, the body of its founder was exhibited – Prince Świętopełk II. 25 Mark 1343 r. the cornerstone was laid for the new temple. 16 years later, the construction of the 6-span basilica was completed. Subsequent extensions continued with breaks until 1502 r., that is, close 160 years. Before the Protestants took it over, was the parish church of the Main Town. In addition to the main altar, it was in it 31 side chapels and 17 pillar altars. From 1529 r. the temple was used by evangelicals, who 43 years later they took over the church completely. It was quite a special situation, because it was under the care of the Polish king until 1793 r., Catholic parish priests exercised formal authority there and received some of the money donations collected by Protestants, who also covered all costs related to the renovation of the church and rectory. The temple suffered a lot during the last war – all the roofs burned down, vaults, the gates and floors are completely gone and 40% antique equipment. W 1946 r. the building was handed over to Catholics and renovation began with removing rubble. The church was given the title of minor basilica and was elevated to the dignity of a co-cathedral. Conservators and specialists have worked for many years to make it look like it is today.

The huge mass of the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the largest brick Gothic temple in the world. Its characteristic tower, speaking most vaguely, evokes mixed feelings. It owes its majestic appearance to smooth walls with cut corners and high windows. The triple gables of the transept and the chancel have a completely different character, divided by polygonal pinnacles. Attention is drawn to the soaring octagonal turrets on the sides and over the corners of the nave. The cathedral seen from the perspective of a passerby – about 50 times lower than the tower – it looks like a brick mountain with huge panes of windows. Looking at the tops of the flag makes you dizzy.

South side, in front of the police station at ul. Piwna, at the height of the half of the window of the transept wall, a sundial is placed.

There are as many as seven gates to the inside of the church: three from the south (Tall, Councilors, Kaletnicza), one from the east (Mariacka), two from the north (Na Grobla, Szewska) and the main one from the west – Under the Tower, which is most often open and from which it is best to start visiting the church. There have always been beggars here for ages, who by their presence seem to confirm the permanence of certain social phenomena.

The Cathedral of Our Lady is located in the heart of the Main Town: east of Wały Jagiellońskie, north of the Royal Route, west of the Motława River and south of the Church of St.. Bridget. Oh her 7 the great gates lead 7 streets. It is a real colossus. The length of the church is 105 m, width in the transept 66 m, the height from the floor to the ceiling is measured 33 m, and the interior volume -155 000 m!. The area of ​​the roofs corresponds to 1 hectare, and the tower is high on 82 m. The interior of the temple – illuminated by 37 huge windows – fits easily 25 thousands of people. The amazing fact is, that at times, when the temples were built, Gdańsk was inhabited by half the population, than it could fit inside of it. It sustains great vaults 27 pillars. Building such a great cathedral in the Middle Ages was not only an expression of religious sentiment, but also a testimony to the grace and wealth of the founders and a sign of the city's power.


The medieval mendicant world was not free from ties with the criminal world. Among the mass of grandfathers, beggars and indulgences were spies, thieves, “evil eyes” in zielarki. Gdansk, as a great port city, attracted crowds of poor people, who then lagged in the churches, on the streets, disgusting at first, then pity. As part of the 16th-century "mendicant reforms” carried out by the Council, able-bodied beggars were ordered to leave the city. The strong and able-bodied were also trained for public works. From 1551 r. Gdańsk was divided into districts, at the head of which were beggars-mayors, watching over their own “charges”, which they recorded in the appropriate registers and gave them signs authorizing them to beg in the area. Not everyone was allowed to beg near the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This privilege was enjoyed by the so-called “bellmen” ringing the bells, the number of which was strictly defined.

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