St Mary’s Church + Font Gdańsk

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St Mary's Church Gdansk Stained Glass © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Or Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to give the church its full name. Like most churches in the city, its red brick exterior contrasts with a white plastered interior. Except for some fragments of frescos. It dates from 1343. Pope Paul VI raised the restored St Mary’s status to minor basilica in 1965. Just over two decades later, a Decree of Bishops recognised it as a pro cathedral. Everything about St Mary’s is on a vast scale: it has no fewer than 31 chapels.

St Mary's Church Gdansk Altar © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The baptismal font is symbolic of the rebuilding of the city. It combines elements of various periods from various buildings. The base, figures and gate come from the Mariacki Church in Gdańsk. Reliefs depicting Biblical scenes decorate the sandstone octagonal font. The tank dates from 1682. So much of the city fuses the old and the new, the worn and the shiny, reflecting both turbulent and better times in this enigmatic corner of Central Europe.

St Mary's Church Gdansk © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley


Gdańsk + St Mary’s Church Rooftop


St Mary's Church Gdansk Tower Interior © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Cats on a hot tin roof and all that. Gdańsk is full of vast brick churches but St Mary’s outdoes them all for sheer size and bravado. It did take about 160 years to build, starting in the 1300s, with restoration continuing to this day. Spending an afternoon on the tiles is harder than it sounds – the route is up a narrow brick spiral staircase and then up caged metal staircases clinging to the walls of the hallowed hollowed out bell tower. Divide the 400 steps by the average 13 of a domestic staircase – the rooftop is 30 storeys in the air. Bereft of the concealment of their pediments, a red sea of pantiled roofs – not tin – stretches toward infinity.

St Mary's Church Gdansk View © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Far below, the body of the basilica resounds from Ave Maria being played on the 1627 organ which once belonged to St John’s.

St Mary's Church Gdansk Poland View © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Every 15th August, The Indulgence Feast of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is marked by a concert at St Mary’s.

St Mary's Church Gdansk Rooftops © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley