Monday, 20 July 2015

Gniezno – the first capital of Poland

Poland was officially recognised as a state and Poles as a nation
in the 10th century – over one thousand (1000) years ago. In 966 Mieszko I – the then ruler of Poland – chose to be baptized in the Western Latin Rite (chose to belong to Latin/Roman Catholic Church). Mieszko's conversion to Christianity (the so-called baptism of Poland) is considered to be the founding event of the Polish state. It’s not clear where the capital of Poland was in 966, but from a document “Dagome iudex” it is assumed that in 991 the capital of Poland was Gniezno. I have just visited this city and took some pictures there (click to enlarge).

1. Bolesław I Chrobry
The first official Polish king was Bolesław I Chrobry - the oldest son of Mieszko I. Chrobry in Old-Polish language means the Valiant or the Brave. He was officially crowned in 1025.

2. Gniezno Cathedral
The above-pictured statue is placed next to Gniezno Cathedral which was the place of the coronation of Bolesław I Chrobry in 1025.
The origins of Gniezno Cathedral date back to the 10th century. Mieszko I built a church which was then re-built by Bolesław I Chrobry and gained the status of a cathedral in 1000. Later it suffered from fires or devastation by Poland’s enemies, but
every time it was re-built and renovated.

3. Gniezno Doors
Gniezno Doors were made around 1175 and are part of the Gniezno Cathedral. They are decorated with eighteen scenes in bas-relief from the life of Św. Wojciech (St. Adalbert).

4. Św. Wojciech (St. Adalbert)
St. Adalbert was a Czech Roman Catholic saint, a Bishop of Prague and a missionary who was martyred in 997 in his efforts to convert the Baltic Prussians. His body was bought back for its weight in gold by Bolesław I Chrobry (meaning that Chrobry paid as much gold as the body weighted). He was made the Patron Saint of Poland and the Patron Saint of Gniezno. In December 999, Otto III – Holy Roman Emperor – left Italy to make a pilgrimage from Rome to Gniezno to pray at the grave of Św. Wojciech. The journey took him almost four months. Between 7 and 15 March 1000, Otto III invested Bolesław I Chrobry with the titles frater et cooperator Imperii ("Brother and Partner of the Empire") and populi Romani amicus et socius ("Friend and ally of Rome"). Otto III gave Bolesław a replica of his Holy Lance (part of the Imperial Regalia) and Bolesław presented the Emperor with a relic, an arm of Saint Adalbert in exchange.

5. Silver reliquary of Św. Wojciech
Unfortunately the original silver reliquary of Św. Wojciech was stolen and destroyed. It was re-made and re-placed in Gniezno Cathedral. The first picture below shows the back of the reliquary from a close distance and the second picture was taken from afar.

On a side note: There was a Polish flag in Gniezno Cathedral because the picture was taken one day before Poland’s National Independence Day celebrated every year on 11 November. Actually it was a Polish flag combined with the coat of arms of Poland. Separately they look like this:

Click to enalrage the below picture!

6. The Biskupin stronghold
Only 35 km from Gniezno there is the Biskupin stronghold – a part replica of a stronghold from 8th – 7th century BC (part replica meaning only two rows of houses and short line of rampart). This real-size part replica was built on the site where actual remains of the stronghold were found during archaeological excavations.

(Tuesday, 12 November 2013)

No comments:

Post a Comment