Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Wroclaw, known as the Mother of the Churches of Silesia, is a Roman Catholic Gothic parish church and also the cathedral church of the Wroclaw bishops, located on Cathedral Square in Wroclaw’s Cathedral Island (Ostrow Tumski).
However, it was preceded by three other churches on the same site – the first cathedral of Prince Boleslaw Chrobry from around 1004, the second cathedral of Prince Casimir the Restorer from the end of the 11th century and the third cathedral of Bishop Walter of Malonne, built between 1158 and 1180. The present shape is the result of Baroque additions and modern restorations after war damage. It is considered the first fully Gothic church on Polish soil and is an exceptionally valuable, in fact the only example in Poland of a Western European form of the great Gothic architecture of the 13th/14th century. Unfortunately, due to many destructive fires and warfare, as well as modern transformations, it has not survived in its original state.
The cathedral is a three-nave Gothic oriented basilica with an encircling ambulatory and a quadrilateral choir 98 m long and 44.5 m wide. Both the west and east elevations are flanked by towers, the eastern of which has remained unfinished since the late Middle Ages. The cathedral has three entrances: the main one, to the west, leading through a portal house, and two side entrances, to the north and south. The cathedral is surrounded by a wreath of chapels dating, for the most part, from the Gothic period. It also has four chapels of varying size, of which the most noteworthy are St Elizabeth’s, adjacent to the south-east tower to the east, dating from 1682-1700, St Mary’s on the axis of the cathedral, dating from 1354-1365, and the Electoral or Corpus Christi chapel, adjacent to the north-east tower, dating from 1716-1724.