April 1, 2012

0163 POLAND (Greater Poland) - The cathedral of the first ruler of Poland

My virtual journey through Poland, begun in Krakow and continued with Niedzica Castle (both in Lesser Poland), follows now its course to the north, in Greater Poland (Wielkopolska), and not with any city, but even with Poznań, and not with any building, but even with Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, under whose slabs rests Mieszko I, the first historically recorded ruler of the Polans, along with six of his successors to the throne, and where was crowned in 1025 the first Polish king, Mieszko's son, Boleslaus the Brave.

Sometimes called the "cradle of Poland", Greater Poland formed the heart of the 10th century Polish state, clotted around Poznań and Gniezno, early centers of royal power. Poznań began as a stronghold built in the 8th or 9th century AD between branches of the Warta and Cybina rivers, on what is now called Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island), so that in the second half of the 10th century Mieszko I to built here one of his main stable headquarters. Some consider it the first capital of the Kingdom of Poland, although Gniezno it was mentioned as having this role under the first Piasts, until when Casimir I (r. 1040-1058) moved the capital to Krakow, farther from the border with the Duchy of Bohemia, the main threat at that time. After Mieszko's baptism of 966, la Poznan (the main seat of the missionary Bishop Jordan), was begun the building of Poznań's cathedral, the first in Poland.

Saint Peter became the patron of the church because, as the first cathedral in the country, it had the right to have the same patron as St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The pre-Romanesque church (with three naves) which was built at that time was about 48 meters in length. Remains of this building are still visible in the basements of today's basilica. The first church survived for about seventy years, until the pagan uprising and the devastating raid of the Bohemian duke Bretislaus I (1034–1038). The cathedral was rebuilt in the Romanesque style, remains of which are visible in the southern tower. 

In the 14th and 15th centuries, the church was rebuilt in the Gothic style, a crown of chapels being added. A fire in 1622 did such serious damage that the cathedral needed a complete renovation, which was carried out in the Baroque style. Another major fire broke out in 1772 and the church was rebuilt in the Neo-Classical style during the 19th century, at which time the Golden Chapel was added. In 1821, Pope Pius VII raised the cathedral to the status of a Metropolitan Archcathedral and added the second patron - Saint Paul. The last of the great fires occurred on 15 February 1945, during the liberation of the city from the Nazi. The damage was big enough that the conservators decided to return to the Gothic style, using as a base medieval relics revealed by the fire. The cathedral was reopened in 1956. Six years later, Pope John XXIII gave the church the title of minor basilica.

About the stamps

The stamp is part of the definitive series named Polish Cities, designed by Maria Dziekanska, which contains the following stamps:

2002.03.01 Gniezno, Cathedral, St.Adalbert's coffin (2,00 PLN)
2002.03.02 Cracow, Wawel Cathedral, St. Mary's Church, Lajkonik (2,10 PLN)
2002.03.03 Warsaw, Mermaid monument, Royal Palace (3,20 PLN)
2002.06.01 Kalisz, Roman paten, St.Joseph's Sanctuary (1,80 PLN)
2002.06.01 Plock, Castle, reliquary of St. Sigismund (2,60 PLN)
2003.01.31 Torun, Towers of Old City Hall, Statue of N. Copernicus (1,20 PLN)
2003.04.10 Kazimierz Dolny, Church and well (3,40 PLN)
2004.01.01 Sandomierz, Town Hall, church archway (0,05 PLN) - it's on other postcard
2004.01.09 Gdansk, Town Hall, Neptune Fountain (1,25 PLN)
2004.02.23 Lublin, Union Monument, Lublin Castle (3,45 PLN)
2004.05.14 Lodz, Descent of the Holy Ghost (Church) (1,90 PLN)
2005.01.03 Poznan, Monument of Hugea, Raczynski Library (1,30 PLN)
2005.04.30 Przemysl, St.John the Baptist Cathedral (3,50 PLN)
2005.05.30 Szczecin, Buildings (2,80 PLN)
2005.06.15 Sopot, Baltic Shore (2,2 PLN)
2005.07.29 Sieradz, All Saints Collegate Church (0,20 PLN) - it's on other postcard
2005.10.05 Katowice, Buildings (0,30 PLN) - it's on other postcard
2006.04.24 Czestochowa, Convent of Jasna Gora (2,40 PLN) - it's on this postcard
2007.01.19 Gorzow Wielkopolski, Cathedral (1,35 PLN)
2008.08.01 Jelenia Gora, Town Hall and Neptune Fountain (3,65 PLN)
2008.07.01 Raciborz, Tower and column (1,45 PLN)
Happy spring you too, Krysia, and many gorgeous postcards. Thanks a lot for this one.

Sender: Krysia / krysiaa (postcrossing)
sent from Poznan (Poland), on 12.03.2012
photo: Dariusz Krakowiak, proj. Krzysztof Gaszewski

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