Basilica of St. Nicholas
The Basilica of St Nicholas is one of the oldest churches in Gdansk, built at the end of the 12th century, which survived intact the complete destruction of the city by the Soviet army in 1945.
The church is a three-nave hall. The western façade is finished with a gable decorated with recesses and pinnacles. The church is covered by a triple roof, over each nave separately. Inside the church, the vaults are supported by ten octagonal pillars. The northern nave transitions towards the east into the chapel of St. Jack, while the southern nave transitions into the chapel of St. Joseph under the tower and further into the sacristy. In the vaults are the crypts, open to the public during the Dominican Fair.
The interior retains rich Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo furnishings. Although the church’s patron saint is the protector of sailors, there are not many nautical elements inside the church.
The earliest Gothic monuments are the Pieta from the early 15th century in the chapel of St. Jack and the paintings on the north wall of the presbytery from around 1430, depicting the Passion of Christ, originally decorated with gold. Other Gothic features include a panelled image of the Virgin and Child (c. 1466), a crucifix from the cross-beam (c. 1520) and slightly later artistically valuable stalls on either side of the presbytery, consisting of Gothic seats from around the mid-16th century and later Rococo backrests from the mid-18th century, decorated with garlands and rocaille ornaments and 22 reliefs. These reliefs, the work of an unknown artist, depict scenes from the life of Jesus against a background of architecture and landscapes.
Baroque and Renaissance works include epitaphs of the Catholic nobility of Pomerania, including Jan Konopacki (1594-1605), Johann Joachim Posselius (before 1625), Johann Ernest Scheffler (1663), Piotr Wyhowski (inscribed epitaph from 1705-1713), and Jozef Hercyk (inscribed epitaph from 1733).
Late Renaissance art is represented above all by the richly decorated, five-tiered main altar, dating from 1643. It fills the entire surface of the eastern wall of the presbytery, contains numerous paintings and figural sculptures and is covered with polychrome relief decoration with cartilaginous motifs. The main painting from 1647, painted on canvas by the Gdansk artist August Ranisch, depicts the church’s patron saint, St Nicholas kneeling before Christ, who hands him a book, and the Virgin Mary placing a mitre on his head. The painting occupies the height of the second and third tiers of the altarpiece. On the fourth storey are two oval paintings depicting St Dominic and St Francis. On all the tiers there are numerous statues of saints, including: St. Stanislaus with a Petrine at his feet, St. Adalbert with an oar, St. Jacek Odrowaz with a figure of the Madonna in his left hand, above him St. Casimir the Prince and above him Jack’s brother, Blessed Czeslaw Odrowaz. The altar composition is crowned with a figure of the Madonna in a radial Mandorla.