I love world records! I really love them. As soon as I hear that a place has some kind of world record, I’m there! And the church in Gdansk is the world’s biggest brick church. It really is huge and has a rich history. Come inside with us… look up and see the stars!
St. Mary’s Church
The church is so big that you can fit 25 000 people inside at once. And when you enter you see exactly how big it is. The first thing I noticed was how uneven the floor was. It turns out that underneath the church floor, there are lots of graves. Sounds weird but that’s how it was done a long time ago. The church started to be built in 1342. It was finished in 1502 so it took a while to finish this huge church! Inside the church, you can still see original frescoes that are from the medieval times.
There are so much history and so much interesting and fun facts about this church. One of them is about all the stars in the ceiling.
The stars in the ceiling
If you look up to the ceiling of the church you will see some whole on a white background. Here and there you see gold stars, however, there are a lot of black holes where there are stars missing. So what’s the point? If you donate enough money to the church you will get a star up in your honor. Believe me – I tried to figure out what kind of amount you’ll have to donate but there is no information about that. One person said she thought that it might be around 500:- zloty however, I believe it must be more because otherwise the ceiling would have been filled with stars by now.
I like the idea of getting a star up in a church that is dedicated to you. However, I do feel that it’s a shame that you have to donate a certain amount of money in order to get the star! Don’t we all deserve stars? And with the church this size, I’m sure there is enough room in the ceiling to let all the inhabitants of Gdansk have a star in the St. Mary’s Church.
St. Mary’s Church in numbers
The vaults in the ceiling are 30 meters high and are carried up by 27 pillars in white. There are 37 window arches and there is a tower that is 80 meters high. The tower used to be a very important viewing point a long time ago. Today it’s the place where you can get the highest view over the city of Gdansk. But be aware that you’ll have to use the stairs to get to the top and there are almost 400 of them one way.
If you want to see a great view but you don’t want to climb 400-some stairs you can visit the Town hall and admire the view from there.
The myth about the church clock
Another thing that the St. Mary’s Church is famous for is the astronomical clock. It was built in 1464 and was the largest clock in the world with 14 meters in height. Today it’s still one of the largest astronomical wooden clocks in the world and it is really impressive. It does not only show time but also the moon phases, the moon’s position relative to the zodiac signs and more.
There is a myth about the clock and the maker. It was made by a man in the 1400’s. After he finished the clock the people liked it so much and were so proud of it that they were afraid that he would build another one for someone else. To prevent him from doing that, the people gouged his eyes out. When he was blind, he was not able to build another wooden clock. After some time the clock broke and needed to be repaired. Since the blind man was the one who built it, he was called in to repair it. The problem was that he couldn’t to that due to the fact that he had no eyes. The myth ends with the blind clockmaker, jumping to his death from the top of the clock!
The use of the St. Mary’s Church
Think back to a long long time ago. A time when there were no cinemas, no cafes and no fashion houses. So what was there? St. Mary’s Church was there and this was the place for meeting. People came here and had their dates. Whatever outfit was seen in the church had a chance of becoming fashionable. It was a mess with live animals walking across the church and people sleeping inside. It was a mess but it was a point of not only prayers but also a place of meeting.
There could be up to nine masses at the same time. That tells you something about how large this church actually is. This was also the place where one of the worlds first libraries was opened – a place where people could come and borrow books. The altar was one of the worlds most expensive and when it was sold the owner could buy several villages for the money the alter gave him. And one more thing… the tabernacle in the church is (to this day) one of the highest in the world with it’s 11 meters.
Information about the St: Mary’s Church
Opening hours: Usually between 08:30 and 18:00 unless there is mass.
Entrance fee: It’s free of charge to enter the church. If you want to enter the tower it costs 5:- zloty (2017).
Address: Podkramarska 5, 80-834 Gdańsk, Poland.