Elbląg / Elbing – some thoughts in the early afternoon…

I have just returned from Elbląg.

Nothing surprising, as I visit this town quite often with a great pleasure. Today I went to the guides’ training about the royal visits in the town’s glorious past. It was due at 5 p.m. so I had time enough to walk around, taking some photos (I don’t recall how many do I have already!!!).

I went (as always) to the part of the town, which was once owned by the Dominican monks.

Of course, the monastery buildings do not exist anymore – due to the fact that the “liberation” in 1945 as well as “new organization of life” after the war left nothing but ruins, and empty quarters. Only few years ago the rebuilding of the once flourishing Hanseatic town started.

However the surroundings of the former Dominican monastery and church (now an art gallery…) is still awaiting its better time…

Below there some information about the place – which I translated from http://www.truso.republika.pl )

St. Mary’s Church

History of St. Mary’s Church Elblag is almost as old as the history of the city. As early as January 13 1238r. The Domestic Master  of the German Order – Hermann Balk issued a privilege allowing Dominicans to settle in Elblag. Therefore on April 24, 1246 – when Elbląg was grnated the Lübeck Law, the Dominicans were given permission to build a church and a monastery. The Dominicans were the only mendicant order, which received the privilege of settling in Elblag.

As in Gdansk, the monastery received an area on the edge of the city, in the north – western part. The church could have tower.

Construction of the chancel began in 1248. A temporary church and housing for the monks were built then.

At the beginning of the fourteenth century, the temple was expanded – receiving the two-aisle form. At that time, the chancel was  also modernized.

As early as the fourteenth century St. Mary’s Church received the shape – as seen today. From 1504 to 1514 (after a fire) some changes were made – the building was heightened.

Reformation was  approaching Elbląg from the West. The Dominicans started to lose their significance. In 1542r. the last two monks left the monastery. From that moment on – St. Mary’s Church became the main temple of the evangelical community in Elblag.

After the war it stood in complete ruins until 1959. Despite many requests it was not given to the Catholic community. Instead it was taken over by a group of artists who organized a Laboratory of Art “Gallery-El”. In 1980, again there rose an idea to hand the church over to the Catholics.

Again the idea returned in 1992. This caused a huge stir in the artistic community. Gallery-El for 30 years of its existence became famous in Poland and Europe. Currently, the building of the former church, as well as existing gallery within – are owned by the local government. It is a place of some art exhibitions, symphonic and jazz concerts, and sometimes entertainment events.

Of the rich furnishings of the church the high altar has survived in parts (now reconstructed), the altar of the Magi (both are in the St. Nicolas Cathedral), the altar of St. Lawrence (in Elbląg’s Archaeological-Historical Museum http://www.muzeum.elblag.pl/), the altar of shoemakers apprentices (in the Cathedral) and the Renaissance pulpit of 1588, which since 1955 is in St. Nicolas Cathedral.

The walls of St. Mary’s Church, the floors, its inner and outer walls are decorated with epitaphs and tombstones of the most eminent families in Elblag. The crypts and right under the floor of the church there are the remains of monks and nobles – patrons of the church.

 It is worth noting that among them there are the remains of the English and Scottish merchants who were the representants of the Eastland Company. And…Unfortunately the place is not that optimistic as the above description might have suggested…

HERE are some photos I took today…




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