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St. Leonard’s Church in Lipnica Murowana

St. Leonard’s Church in Lipnica Murowana

The small church in Lipnica is one of the most famous historic monuments in Małopolska. It was erected towards the end of the 15th century, although local tradition connects it with the year 1141, when a wooden church was supposedly built where a pagan temple once stood. The evidence for these colourful legends is meant to be the so-called Svetovid pole, allegedly with the image of the Slavic god, that supports the back of the main altar. The church was inscribed on the UNESCO list in 2003. Today, the small church edifice (without a tower) merges with the beautiful landscape. It is guarded by mighty trees surrounded with old cemetery graves. The church has survived until the present day in an almost unchanged form, retaining its archaic Gothic silhouette. The only two changes were the addition of the ground-floor "soboty" arcades in the 17th century, and a western portal added in the 19th century. The open arcades, which add the structure a lot charm, apart from their normal functions (protecting the underpinning from damp and providing shelter for pilgrims) were also used for storing coffins, before they were laid into graves in the graveyard. Today the old cemetery, founded in 1711, is very picturesque and contains numerous precious gravestones from the 19th century. The ascetic and refined interior will certainly leave you impressed. Small windows allow very little light, and the prevailing twilight creates a contemplative atmosphere. In this austere and modest interior, ornament and figural polychromes that occupy the entire walls and ceilings make a powerful impression. The oldest decoration (that of the chancel ceiling from the end of the 15th century, and the nave ceiling from the 16th century) was created with the use of special stencils: the plant ornaments feature various shades of green, brown, yellow and blue. The chancel wall polychromes date back to the 17th century, while those in the nave come from the 18th century and depict various religion-related scenes. Also polychromed is the choir platform, on which you can see folk paintings illustrating the Ten Commandments. Until recently, the interior was graced with three extremely precious Gothic altars (from the 15th and 16th centuries), which were unfortunately stolen. When they were retrieved, they were moved to the Diocesan Museum in Tarnów, while the church received their copies. Another interesting element of the church décor is the painted Baroque pulpit with the images of the four Evangelists. The stone slab in the middle of the nave is the entry to the sepulchral crypt of Józefina and Antoni Ledóchowscy, the parents of the blessed Maria Teresa and saint Ursula. The crypt was destroyed by a flood in 1997. In the temple you will also find a precious positive organ (a chest organ instrument), one of only seven instruments of this kind in Poland.

 

St. Leonard’s Church, Lipnica Murowana 39, phone: +48 14 685 2601, 698 641445;
admission only with a guide: May–Jun and Sept–Oct, Mon–Sat 9am–5pm, Sundays and holidays 1pm–5pm, Jul–Aug, Mon–Sat 9am–6pm, Sundays and holidays 1pm–5pm; Nov-Mar opened after previous telephone or e-mail arrangement; tickets: PLN 3, concessions: PLN 2.

 

Local attractions !
Nowy Wiśnicz
, famous for the beautiful castle and the manor that houses the museum devoted to Jan Matejko
Wooden churches on the Wooden Architecture Route in the villages of Gosprzydowa and Rajbrot 
Brodziński Stones nature reserve
close to the Rajbrot village, where you can take a walk among the picturesque calcareous monadnocks

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