Olsztyn – Cathedral Basilica of St. Jacob

The first church on this site was constructed from wood in the fourteenth century, soon after the settlement of Allenstein (the original name of Olsztyn) was created. The current building dates from 1596, although the side chapels were reconstructed in the mid-eighteenth century.

During the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century the French held 1,500 Russian prisoners in the church. The Russian troops destroyed most of the wooden items in the church by setting fire to them in order to keep warm.

In the early 1860s there were concerns that the building might collapse, but renovation works were completed to ensure that the church could remain in use. There was a large fire in the 1890s which damaged the restored interior, but again the damage was repaired.

The interior of the church is quite dark, although the altar area is well lit from the stained glass window at the rear. The church was designed in the Gothic style, and I liked the patterned decoration on the ceiling. The church was elevated to the status of a pro-cathedral in 1945 and became a basilica minor in 2004.

The organ above the entrance to the rear, giving a better indication of how dark the interior is. I didn’t take too many photos as there were a number of worshippers in the church, and it didn’t seem appropriate to try and take photos around them.

The basilica is clearly very proud of the visit of John Paul II in June 1991 and it’s marked by way of signage, in the door panels, an external sculpture and internal artworks.

The stained glass in one of the aisles.

The marker sign, with the scallop shell, outside the basilica which shows that this is on the route of the Camino de Santiago. Although, it’s an enormous journey to get there from this part of eastern Poland, it’d be a true pilgrimage.