Kwidzyn / Marienwerder

Whoever knows me – knows also, that I love brick. Gothic brick gives so much information about the times that passed. Sometimes it also reveals the traces. I could speak or write about brick for hours 😉

So here is one of my favorite places – all of brick of course.

Kwidzyn (before Marienwerder).

Colonization of the area where today’s Kwidzyn is located, did not begin until the end of the last glaciation in northern Poland, around 12 thousand years BC. After the glacier receded, vegetation and animals appeared, and the climate softened, the first people came, leading a nomadic lifestyle“…

The settlement revival took place only in the middle and late period of the Younger Stone Age (3300-1700 BC). At that time, great civilization changes took place: a change in the lifestyle of the population from nomadic to settled, the start of deliberate farming and animal breeding.”

Both quotes from the official website Kwidzyn.pl, more can be found on the immortal wikipedia.

Just to shorten the history – located in the 13th century, by the Teutonic Order, as Insula Sancte Mariae in a place once being an Old Prussian settlement (Quidino). In the same century – the Bishopric of Pomesania was founded. And Kwidzyn was made a capital. As a capital of the bishopric – the place needed a castle suitable to the position of the place. The neighboring church was leveled to the position of bishop’s cathedral. After 1525 this part of the Teutonic State was transformed into a secular (first in Europe) Lutheran country (in facet a duchy, as a fief of the Polish kingdom). The first duke was at the same time the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Order in Prussia – Albrecht. He was a very interesting person. He founded the so called Silver Library, and also the famous Albertina University in Koenigsberg.

The Marienwerder area is also known to the Mennonites, as they settled here in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Fortunately the Second World War caused no severe destruction both to the castle and the cathedral. So we have a rare example of an original mosaic! It’s origin is connected with the Venetian Mosaic Masters. It was the same workshop which made the famous Prague mosaic, on the south wall of the St. Vitus Cathedral.

There were 3 such mosaics in the medieval Europe – north of Alps. St. Vitus, the reconstructed after WWII – 8 meters high figure of Madonna in Marienburg (Malbork), and Merienwerder (Kwidzyn) St. John, on the south wall of the cathedral. St. John is original. Luckily survived all the atrocities of the passing centuries (including the Napoleonic times).

So today one can visit both the castle and the cathedral. The castle is a museum now with very interesting ethnographic collection of the region.

The walls of the cathedral and the castle are soaked with history. And sensation too. Few years ago archaeological search for Dorota’s tomb was carried out in the cathedral. Instead of her grave – a grave of (probably) three Teutonic Grand Masters was found…

(as for the history of Dorota of Montau – information for my Mennonite friends: Gross Montau is today Mątowy Wielkie – and here is what gameo.org says about the village. But the village has a real gem. A medieval church built as half-timbered, and later bricked. Not many such survived in the north of Poland after WWII, the march of the Soviets, and then post-war banditry and looting… About the church I shall write a separate entry. 🙂

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