Portius Tower (the bell tower of the Holy Trinity Parish Church)
The bell tower of the Holy Trinity Parish Church is one of the most characteristic buildings in Krosno, and could be described as its symbol. And not just a symbol – it is open for visitors and guarantees a unique visual experience.
The tower owes its charming shape to an architect inspired by the latest contemporary trends of early Baroque art whose name unfortunately remains unknown. The building still functions as the bell tower of the Holy Trinity Church and owes its attractive appearance to recent renovation work. The successful renovation made it possible to open the tower to visitors, who can now climb the steps to the top of the 38-metre-tall tower and admire the wonderful panorama of the town and the gentle hills of the nearby Beskid Niski mountain range. The bugle call of Krosno can be heard from the tower every day at noon, and at night the tower is beautifully illuminated and reigns over the historic Old Town.
The building of the tower began in 1637, a date suggested by the inscription over the entrance. Like the vast majority of investments in Krosno at that time, the tower was funded mainly by Krosno Scotsman Wojciech Portius, hence the name Portius Tower, used interchangeably with the Parish Church Tower. Sadly, the great fire of 1638 destroyed the building work and the tower was not finished until more than twenty years later. Many historians claim that the work was concluded in 1651, but this is unlikely as Wojciech Portius bequeathed a large sum of money to the finishing of the tower on his death in 1658.
It is easy to see that the tower is a four-storey building connected to the presbytery on one side and supported by buttresses on the other. Its characteristic element are corners decorated with an irregular stone pattern. It is also worth paying closer attention to the ornamentation of the cornice directly under the dome, which evokes the image of fortifications. The tower has a distinctive bulbous dome and a cupola, topped with an unusual, monstrance-shaped weathervane.
The tower holds a treasure the citizens of Krosno are very proud of – one of the biggest bells in Poland, comparable to the famous Royal Sigismund Bell in Kraków. But while the latter was funded by King Sigismund I the Old himself, the bell in Krosno was given to the town by a rich merchant of Scottish origin who was generous like a king. The Urban bell he funded in 1639 (the name commemorates the contemporary Pope Urban VIII) has a pitch of C, weighs around 4 tons and its circumference is 490 cm! There are two smaller bells next to it – Jan, with a pitch of E and 390 cm in circumference, and Marian, with a pitch of G and 350 cm in circumference. All three were made on Portius’ order by German bellfounders Stefan Meutel and George Olivier.
The bells have recently been carefully renovated and received new clappers. Everyone who hears them should count themselves lucky as they are among the most beautiful-sounding bells in Poland.
Take a virtual tour of Portius Tower
fot.: M. Rymar (1,4), T. Okoniewski (2), M. Młynarczyk (5)
Web site: www.muzeumrzemiosla.pl