Oliwa Cathedral is an ancient church that impresses with its range of architectural styles and art. Established as a Cistercian monastery in 1186, it was enlarged in 1224 before being ruined by fire in the mid-14th century. Oliwa Cathedral witnessed further devastation following an attack by soldiers during the Gdańsk rebellion of 1577. Visit today’s cathedral to experience a revered place of worship and a venue that hosts exquisite organ concerts.
The cathedral is known throughout the city for is striking façade, characterized by an ornate Baroque entrance flanked on either side by 150-foot-tall (46-meter) Gothic towers. Notice the octagonal shape of the towers and their soaring spires.
Enter via the elegant portal to the cathedral’s long and narrow nave. It stretches for 351 feet (107 meters), which makes it one of the longest churches in Poland. Spend some time admiring more than 20 altars, many adorned with Baroque and Rococo decorations. See paintings by 17th-century Polish artists such as Andrzej Stech and Herman Han.
One of the most notable works of art is the intriguing canopy that crowns the high altar. The main characteristics are a host of angels that peer out from fluffy clouds. Look for a reliquary dedicated to Our Lady Oliwa.
Don’t miss the magnificent cathedral organ, meticulously designed by Johann Wilhelm Wulff between 1763 and 1788. When in use, a group of mechanical angels and cherubs play trumpets and ring bells in time with the music. Experience the sound of the organ at one of the regular recitals and festivals.
The cathedral sits at the western edge of Oliwa Park (Park Oliwski) and is easily accessible via train from Gdańsk’s central railway station. Combine your visit with a walk around Oliwa Park, which features botanical flower displays, a palm house and a French Rococo garden. Browse the modern art exhibits of the National Museum, housed in the 18th-century Abbot’s Palace.
Oliwa Cathedral is open daily and has free admission. Organ recitals take place daily. See the full schedule on the cathedral’s official website.