Architecture of Poland
Poland has an incredible amount of preserved architecture
and an enviable variety of styles throughout history, particularly given the region
was never the birthplace of any architectural movement. Although many of the Romanesque
(and other) structures were destroyed by the Tatars, Swedish,
and later, Nazi and Soviet invaders, there are still a large number of these early
buildings still standing.
The best examples of Romanesque architecture in Poland are
found in Krakow and include St. Andrew's Church (1079-1098) and St. Wojciech's
Church (1000s). Moving into the Gothic style, Krakow again is home to perhaps the
country's best example in St. Mary's Basilica (1200-1300s), although St.
Mary's Church in Gdansk (1300-1400s) can also stake a claim for that title.
In fact, much of Gdansk was built in the Gothic style, however most of the city
was destroyed during World War II so what is seen today is primarily rebuilt. The
town of Kazimierz Dolny is another great example of a Medieval town as this small
town, for the most part, survived the war intact. The final Gothic structure worth
mentioning is Malbork Castle (built by the Teutonic Knights in 1200-1400s; restored
in the 1950-1960s), which is the world's largest brick castle and in a style
that reflects its Teutonic German past.
St. Michael the Archangel Church
Throughout Polish history, but peaking in the 1400s and 1500s, a large number of
wooden churches were constructed in southern Poland, in the
Tatras Mountains. Shockingly, many of these churches survive to the present. There
are nearly 20 of these churches from the 1400s-1700s and they are generally found
in mountain villages. One of the most impressive is St. Michael the Archangel Church
(1400s), which is located in the tiny town of Debno (about 1,000 people).
Unlike much of northern Europe, Poland
prospered during the Renaissance and the Zygmund Chapel (1519-1533) in Wawel Cathedral
(Poland's Royal Castle and the kings' cathedral) in Krakow is often considered
the best example of Renaissance art north of the Alps. During this same time, the
royal castle of Wawel itself was restructured in the Renaissance style. Poznan's
town hall was also constructed in the style as was the entire city of Zamosc, which
was built as a defensive fortress by Italian architects.