Geneza formy architektonicznej kościoła Mariackiego w Gdańsku – późnogotyckiej świątyni Rady Głównego Miasta

Elżbieta Pilecka



The Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary, the parish church of the Main Town of Gdansk, is one of the most magnificent monuments of brick architecture of the Baltic coast. It is a building both important and symptomatic to the direction of changes occurring in late sacral brick architecture. However, while being mentioned in all significant compendia of the history of art, it remains unrecognized. It does not explicitly fit either into the building tradition of great parish churches of hanseatic cities or the architecture of lower Rhine or Holland. The origin of its architectural form cannot be drawn directly from the evolution of the European model of the cathedral church (in its royal-episcopal or bourgeois-patrician variations in planning and spatial characteristics), or from the solutions inspired by Cistercian churches. No sources have been identified in terms of particular hall church buildings in the Baltic coast. Moreover, it was not directly conditioned by the architectonic heritage of the neighboring region, i.e. the religious State of Teutonic Knights in Prussia. The progenitors and the builders of the church did indeed draw some impulses from all of the above mentioned sources, yet their Gdansk building outgrew the formal and expressive capabilities of its model predecessors. The commissioners of that "town council church" participated in a kind of intellectual discourse on the very form of their parish church as well as its ideological expression. It was a discourse of European range and significance, despite the authorities' decisions being made with no awareness as to their "inscribing into the current of formal transformations" of architecture. The form was undoubtedly meant to adequately reflect the intended content. Through that building - at the same time sacral and municipal - patrician town council manifested their status in the Hanseatic League. Yet, their choice of a reductive, 'anti-gothic' language of architectonic forms remained a singularity.

The artistic conception of that late Gothic church was outlined already in the 1380s by the master Henryk Ungeradin. As a result, changes were introduced into the constructive thought which shaped the pre-existent 14th century basilica. Ungeradin worked out the plan, the idea of the building's internal space and the geometric form of its hall choir. Those outlines also dictated the rebuilding of the nave body beginning from the 1480s, which on its completion merged the nave with the choir and the transept. Various building adjustments occurring in the meantime did not influence the original idea of the master.

What he had planned was a huge church, with a wide square-ended choir, three-nave transept and a round of chapels enveloping the whole church, built in between the buttressing. The size of the transept, its position halfway down the building's length as well as the rhythm of the nave bays widening towards the center, all contributed to the optical centralization of the whole complex. Thick, rough walls 'categorically' closed the hall area divided by octagonal pillars. These supported the domed calottes of sumptuous crystal and net vaults. An analogous aesthetic effect in the outer view of the geometric form of the building was achieved by juxtaposing plain peripheral walls with the lacelike area of the roof triads above each nave.

The article was an attempt to provide a response to the question of where Ungeradin's idea did in fact originate, with special attention to the eastern part - the choir and the transept. Looking at the fundamental guidelines for the analysis in such elements of the building as:

1/. the project of the eastern part based on the so-called cathedral layout (multi-nave, pseudo-ambulatory, square-ended choir, lined with chapels, connected with multi-nave chapel-lined transept, also with straight-ended arms), 2/. accomplishing a hall-like nave layout based on such a plan,

made it possible to search for the origin of each characteristic of the estate among adequate architectonic types, as well as their variations and mutations in multiple architectonic environments of the late 13th and all through the 14th century. Those taken into consideration included, among other items, ambit choirs in basilica layout on polygonal plan with a round of chapels, ambit choirs in basilica layout on rectangular plan with a round of chapels, hall three-abside closed choirs tending to 'square' their eastern end, choirless hall churches, a group of Baltic city parish churches with their so-called 'cathedral choirs' with chapels and with elaborate transepts, estates of hall churches built according to those plans, with the embedded process of the reduction of the number of sides of the polygon ending and the introduction of shallow inter-buttress chapels equal in height to the naves. It was revealed that the stages leading to the concept of the master Ungeradin could be traced back above all to the regional, Baltic complexes of churches in Stralsund (St. Nicolas), Rostock (Holy Virgin Mary), Doberan (Cistercian), towards the end of the century leading to completely new creations in Wismar (St. George) or Stralsund (Holy Virgin Mary). It is just in the final two that we can find the same formal values. They may have taken shape in a parallel fashion, regardless of the changes taking place in West European architecture of the second half of the 14th century. The example of Stralsund bears particular resemblance to the Gdansk church. Such similarity could even suggest that master Henryk Ungeradin educated himself on the building grounds of the Marian church of that city. Both churches boast a particular and groundbreaking purity of architecture, bestowing value to a wall through its very massive and real character. The Gdansk church became the same late medieval 'picture of the Church', expressed in the language of forms in a very concrete, rational vision.

Methodology-wise, the present feedback is consistent with the traditional - undoubtedly requiring further revision - approach of architecture researchers, whose aim is to include the monument into the typological-formal sequence of architectural model transformation.

Słowa kluczowe

sztuka pobrzeży Bałtyku; ceglana architektura późnogotycka; kościół Mariacki w Gdańsku; geneza form architektonicznych

Pełny tekst:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Partnerzy platformy czasopism