Gothic Churches Trail
Gothic style in art and architecture appeared in France in XII century as a direct successor of Romanesque style. Thanks to new constructional solutions it was possible to leave the rules of constructing buildings used until then, and to create figures of a new type. After heavy Romanesque buildings the time had come for soaring and slender constructions of Gothic style.
This revolution was possible thanks to the invention of a buttress system: walls no longer were the main support of the weight of building – this function was took over by pillars inside buildings and abramuses outside them (inside they were used rarely). This enabled constructing not only higher buildings, but also better lighted by bigger windows. Gothic style was modified in the process of time, thus three main periods can be distinguished within it: Early, Middle and Late (also known as Perpendicular, because it was characterised by the greatest soaring).
How can we recognise Gothic architecture? Let us enumerate some of its characteristics:
- the buildings had usually cruciform shapes;
- cross-ribbed vaults were commonly used;
- churches were mainly of basilica type (the central aisle was higher than side aisles) or had hall structure (all the aisles were of equal height);
- a specific skeletal constructional system can be easily noticed: from the outside the building is supported by abramuses, while inside it there are arches and pillars;
- sharp arches in windows, portals and other architectural elements;
- high, slender windows, very often with stained glass.
It is worth mentioning that despite Gothic times are often called “epoque of cathedrals”, they were also a time of a major development of secular and defensive architecture. Numerous town halls, cloth halls, urban walls, towers, castles, mills and granaries were reared up in this era.
From France, Gothic has spread to England and Germany very quickly. In XIII century through the agency of Cistercian Order it also hit Poland. Very rich Pomeranian Gothic heritage is characterised by the usage of red brick. Gdańsk and region owed the development of Gothic style to Teutonic Order that ruled here heavy-handedly in XIV and 1st half of XV century. Late Gothic buildings were still reared up in Pomerania in first decades of XVI century.
An important role in the history of Gdańsk churches had the reformation that took place in the town in 1523. It was the time when most of local churches accepted the teachings of Protestants which started the process of removing existing decorations from interiors of churches. Protestant churches are famous for raw interiors.
Starting point of the trail: Gdańsk Central Railway Station, Podwale Grodzkie Street 1
How to access point 1:
Church is located nearly opposite the station. You need to go through the underground tunnel to the other side of Wały Jagiellońskie Street and then go along this street, passing “Krewetka” cinema (Cinema City).