Dominating the heart of the Main Town, St Mary’s is often cited as the largest brick church in the world. Some 105m long and 66m wide at the transept, its massive squat tower climbs 78m high into the Gdańsk cityscape. Begun in 1343, St Mary’s didn’t reach its present proportions until 1502. Don't miss the 15th-century astronomical clock, placed in the northern transept, and the church tower (405 steps above the city).
On first sight, the brightly whitewashed looks almost empty, but walk around its 30-odd chapels to discover how many outstanding works of art have been accumulated. In the floor alone, there are about 300 tombstones. In the chapel at the back of the left (northern) aisle is a replica of Memling’s The Last Judgment – the original is in the National Museum’s Department of Early Art. The extraordinary Baroque organ manages enough puff to fill the space with its tones.
The church’s elephantine size is arresting and you feel even more antlike when you enter the building. Illuminated with natural light passing through 37 large windows (the biggest is 127 sq metres), the three-naved interior, topped by an intricate Gothic vault, is bright and spacious. It was originally covered with frescos, the sparse remains of which are visible in the far right corner.
The high altar boasts a Gothic polyptych from the 1510s, with the Coronation of the Virgin depicted in its central panel. Large as it is, it’s a miniature in this vast space. The same applies to the 4m crucifix high up on the rood beam.