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.
St. Mary’s Church is the most famous object of cultural heritage of Gdańsk. The great temple is the biggest Gothic brick building in the world. Foundation stone for the construction of the church was lied on 25th of March 1343, while the last brick on the vault was built in on 28th of July 1502 at 4:00 p.m., so the construction took 159 years!
The length of the church is 105.5 metres and the building rises to a height of 30 metres. The width of the transept is 66 metres, and of the body of the church – 44 metres. Its tower has a height of 82 metres and has 409 steps. The body of the church has the shape of hall and we can admire beautiful starry and diamond vaults inside it.
Soon after completing the construction the times of reformation came and the temple was passed on to the Lutherans. For the Catholics in the area belonging to the church’s presbytery there was built a new baroque Royal Chapel, partly financed by the king John III Sobieski.
In Lutheran times the temple played an important role for the cultural and intellectual life of the town. Some researchers claim that even Johann Sebastian Bach had applied for the post of kapellmeister!
Unfortunately in 1945 the basilica was set on fire and shelled. In consequence it was destroyed in a high degree. Right after war safety and reconstruction works were initiated. The reconstruction has continued to this day. In 1946 the facility was passed on to the Catholic Church and life slowly started returning to the Gothic temple.
Among the most precious treasures of the basilica there are:
- The Gothic altar of Mother of God’s Coronation (the main altar);
- Gothic figure of Beautiful Madonna and Pietà, both made by the same unknown author
- XV century astronomical clock made by Hans Düringer;
- Charity plaque made by one of the most talented Gdańsk painters, Anton Möller;
- Baroque tombstone of Judyta and Szymon Bahr made by master Abraham van den Blocke;
- Hans Memling’s “Judgement Day” – XV century work that before World War II was exposed in St. Mary’s Church. In 1956, however, it was moved to National Museum and now in St. Mary’s Church we can admire its reproduction.
The basilica can be visited:
From 1st of October to 30th of April
Monday – Saturday: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
From 1st of May to 30th of September
Monday – Saturday: 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Tourist are not allowed to enter the church during masses.
From 18th of April to 30th of November tourists wanting to explore the church have to pay admission fee.
The viewpoint located at the basilica’s tower is open for visitors from 25th of March to 30th of November.
Tower’s opening hours:
From 25th of March to 30th of April and from 1st of October to 30th of November
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
From 1st to 31th of May and from 1st to 30th of September
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
From 1st of June to 31th of August
Monday – Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
From 1st of December to 24th of March
Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (climbing up the tower is possible only in suitable weather conditions)
In order to enter the tower one has to buy a ticket.
How to acces point 8:
Heading to the next destination, it is worth taking one more look at the basilica from Kaletnicza Street by the tower (it is one of Piwna Street turnoffs). Going further you will reach the Long Lane (Długa Street). Here you need to turn left, pass Main Town Hall and turn right just behind it. Now go along Ławnicza Street that is connected with Słodowników Street. At the end of Słodowników Street there is an underground passage that leads Żabi Kruk Street. You need to go through it. You will see the next church’s figure even before you enter the tunnel.