23 January 2008

Gothic Cathedrals and the Brick

I love Gothic Churches (or should I say Gothic Cathedrals because the English speaking people use it as a synonym for all the Gothic churches, Cathedrals or not). They are a creation of a genius spirit, mind and fantasy. They are colossal, huge and arrogant in their gigantism, gigantology, gigantomachy. (what is the best description?!) The sphere inside the Gothic Church is only one of its kind and is very mysterious; and of course the architecture and the ornamentation is unique as well.

I can’t remember how old I was, 4 or 5 when I saw my first Gothic Church in real. I mean an old Gothic Church, not one in Neogothic style. It was in Gdansk in Poland. I was only a child but still I can remember my surprise that fairy like building could also exist in a real world. In my realm. (I grow up in a Communist country, with the communist architecture!) Of course when you are small and short everything seems huge.

But the St. Mary’s Church is really a huge one. The Church is is the largest brick church in the world, and one of the largest Brick Gothic buildings in Europe. It is 105.5 m long, and the navie 66 m wide. Inside the church is room for 25,000 people. It is an aisled hall church with a transept (Build between 1343- 1496). The Polish name is Bazylika Mariacka. The long proper name should be this: Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The church was severely damaged in the World War II, during the storming of Danzig city by the Red Army in March 1945. Fortunately, most of the artworks from the interior survived, as they were evacuated for safekeeping to the villages surrounding the city. Many of these have returned to the church, but some are displayed in various museums around Poland. I read in some magazine that the Polish Church does everything to secure their return. I hoop so, because they belong to this building.

From the moment when I saw my first real Gothic Church, every time when we was visiting a new place, city, country, I always wanted to know if there is a Gothic church there. My Mum thought for a moment that I was a profound believer in god, in the Catholic god of course. But I wasn’t, I didn’t actually like the idea about such a powerful and horrific creator. I probably felt in love with the Gothic style, without knowing this. With the wonderful ornamentation, the gargoyles and the dragons. The mythical, mystical and profound creation of the medieval people.

The brick Gothic architecture is different to the French Gothic Style of building. Using less of more only bricks delimited the ornamentation possibilities of the architects. You can say that the Brick Gothic is a reduced style of Gothic architecture but you can also see it as a a different style of Gothic by using the bricks. The countries where the Brick Gothic was common were: North Germany and all the countries around the Baltic Sea; all are without natural rock resources.

Personally I prefer the rock Gothic, the real French Gothic with all the ornamentation, with the dragons, with the gargoyles. I will tell more about this subject in the next post.

(If you are interesting in more information about the history of this church, go to Wiki; Wikipedia has an interesting article about the St. Mary’s Church in Gdansk; available in English).


Administrator said...

have you read The Pillars of the Earth from Ken Follet (Someone who shares your interests). It's a story about building a Cathedral in medieval times.

Muminek said...

Thanks for your tip; I didn't read it. But I will do it, absolutely.