St. Alexander's Church, Warsaw
|St. Alexander's Church|
Kościół Św. Aleksandra (in Polish)
|Town or city||Warsaw|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Chrystian Piotr Aigner|
The church was established by the grateful citizens of Warsaw to commemorate the tsar Alexander I of Russia, who conferred the Constitution to the Kingdom of Poland. It was constructed in the years 1818–25 in Neoclassical style. The foundation stone was laid on 15 June 1818 by Minister of State Treasury Jan Węgliński, replacing indisposed General Józef Zajączek, Namestnik of the Kingdom of Poland. The temple was consecrated on 18 June 1826 by primate Wojciech Skarszewski and constructed on a circular ground plan covered by a dome, often referred to as the rotunda. The inspiration for the external shape of the shrine was Pantheon in Rome. The main altar was adorned with oil painting by Franciszek Smuglewicz depicting Crucifixion of Jesus.
In 1886–95 the church was rebuilt in Neo-Renaissance style, resulting in a much larger building with two prominent towers and a large dome. The contest for the reconstruction design was announced on 14 April 1883 and the construction was entrusted to the author of the victorious design Józef Pius Dziekoński. The original rotunda was enlarged by adding three naves from the Ujazdowskie Avenue and two towers, enhancing the walls and the dome. The southern portico was embellished with relief of Blessing Christ among the Indigents and Cripples by Jan Kryński and sculptures by Teofil Gosecki. With these changes, the building became one of the largest in Warsaw.
During its existence the church has witnessed a number of historic events, including the 1912 funeral service for Bolesław Prus, who died a couple of blocks away in his apartment on ulica Wilcza (Wolf Street).
The church was destroyed during World War II, in the course of the Warsaw Uprising. During the aerial bombardment by German Luftwaffe in the first days of September 1944, the church was hit by 9 bombs resulting in collapse of the dome, main nave and one of the towers. In the years after the war it stood as a ruin while debates were conducted over whether to rebuild it to its prewar appearance, or to its original appearance before reconstruction. In the end, the church was rebuilt between 1949 and 1952 in a form similar to its original design.
The 17th-century white marble statue of dead Christ by Roman or Florentine sculptor in left side altar was acquired in Rome by Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski between 1674 and 1694, and transferred to the St. Alexander's Church in 1826 from other location.
An early photograph of Three Crosses Square, with the church in the background (1880s)
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