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2009 | 8-9 | 5-29

Article title

A Few Remarks On The Architecture Of St. Jacob's Church In Toruń



Title variants

Kilka uwag o architekturze kosciola sw. Jakuba w Toruniu

Languages of publication



The church of St. Jacob in Torun is an outstanding example of brick Gothic architecture; it was erected with the assistance of the Teutonic Order as a parish church in Nowe Miasto between the year 1309 and 1341. The aim of the present article is to present a few of the observations of its author, concerning chiefly the possible analogies between the arrangement of its nave and its articulation, as well as the layout of the pseudo-polygonal eastern part of the church. The problem of the origin of the articulation of walls in the main nave of the church has been interpreted in various ways in literature. Teresa Mroczko perceives in it the influence of Anglo-Norman architecture, whereas Marian Kutzner on the other hand, regards the Torun corpus as a copy of the Marian church in Lübeck. A characteristic feature of the articulation in the main nave are big wall-side arcades on the upper floor of the wall which are joined with each other by passages in the thickness of the wall. Entrances to these passages are underscored in the face of wall-side arcades by small blends which is a characteristic motif of the majority of the churches using the 'Lübeck system'. This hardly noticeable analogy undoubtedly testifies to the influence of the Lübeck style on the arrangement used in Torun, yet contrary to Kutzner's view, one cannot speak of a simple imitation in this case. The wall-side pillar which separates the wall-side arcades in the Lübeck churches, has simply taken on the shape of a fragment of the wall, although the sources of the above inspiration are quite clear. This testifies to the artistic attitude of the architect who created a work with an individual stylistic expression. His use of a larger surface of the wall may be regarded as an archaizing feature, similarly as the occurrence of rolls in the arcades. The arrangement of the eastern bay of the presbytery is totally innovative. In spite of the application of a closure by means of a plain wall, the use of a pseudo-polygonal vault was to suggest the appearance of a polygonal closure - as was suggested by many researchers who quoted numerous analogies of similar solutions. Among the significant solutions which underscore this type of illusionism, one finds asymmetrical window edges and doubled buttresses which, contrary to the published plans of the church, are anything but parallel. An analysis of the correctly drawn plan of the presbytery shows that the axes defined by the supports and window edges converge in the central point of the vault of this part of the church, which testifies to a considerable degree of sophistication of the architecture of this monument. The complexity and compositional cohesion of this architectural creation tend to rule out Szczesny Skibinski's hypothesis, who having observed the different shape of the responds half-way through the length of the church, expressed the view that originally a hexagonal ceiling was to have been constructed here. Yet in the period under discussion, the alternating arrangement of the responds did not at all have to be associated with this type of ceiling; this is best borne out by the construction of the presbytery of the Dominican church in Elblag. Whereas when hexagonal ceilings were introduced, as in the church of St. Nicolas in Grudziadz, the shape of the responds corresponded to the number of ribs which were supported by them; in the church of St.Jacob in Torun no such link can be observed.








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  • Instytut Historii Sztuki UJ
  • Jakub Adamski, Uniwersytet Jagiellonski, Instytut Historii Sztuki, ul. Grodzka 53, 31-001 Kraków, Poland


Document Type

Publication order reference


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