Our Lady's Assumption Basilica

Completed Project
World Monuments Watch
Hebdów (near Krakow), Poland

The Church of Our Lady’s Assumption was founded in the mid-twelfth century within a Norbertine monastery. It was rebuilt in the thirteenth century in the Gothic style, and was substantially renovated in the late-seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries with significant baroque additions to the interior and exterior. It has been in continuous use since its founding and currently serves as a local parish church administered by the Piarist monastic order. In 1996, the church appeared on the World Monuments Watch. Since 1991, the church has been subject to conservation efforts, particularly on the roof and drainage systems to prevent water infiltration. In 2003, an eight-year renovation of the baroque oratory was completed, including the conservation of paintings, interior furnishings, and a wooden Virgin and Child sculpture.

1996 World Monuments Watch

Soon after its listing on the 1996 World Monuments Watch, WMF secured funding from American Express for conservation work. The structure’s stability was assessed, and laboratory examinations of pigments and materials were conducted to determine conditions of interior decorative elements in order to develop conservation solutions. Preservation efforts were directed toward the stained glass windows, which dated from the twelfth through nineteenth centuries. Interior and exterior stonework that had been damaged by smog from industrial activity was cleaned, restored, and replaced when necessary. WMF also assisted with the removal of layers of lime-wash to expose and conserve important wall paintings in the chancel.

The basilica’s significance is visible in its architecture and decoration. The chancel alone has at least six layers of wall paintings, ranging from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century. While the paintings suffered water damage and in some areas were covered over by undecorated paint layers, conservation efforts protected the remaining decorative paint layers and allowed historians and others to understand more fully the changes to the church over time.

Last updated: February 2019.

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