The new barocco (richly ornamented) style spread throughout Europe from Italy through the mediation of the Jesuit order. This was also known as the counter reformation style and was meant to have a strong effect on the imagination of the faithful. Architecture was therefore subjected to the complete gamut of decorative elements. The baroque began in the late 16th century and continued until after 1760.
It seems only fitting that the first example should be the Jesuit monastery in Kalisz, one of the oldest early-baroque monasteries in Poland (built 1583-1596). It was designed by Italian architect Giovanni Maria Bernardoni.
The Bernadine Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary monastery complex in Lubiń (Kościan County) is highly recommended.
Monasteries and churches designed by some of the best architects of the day (e.g. Tomasz Poncino, Jan and Jerzy Catenazzi and Pompeo Ferrari) are truly architectural gems. The post-Cistercian monastery in Ląd nad Wartą, one of the most valuable heritage sites in the country, the post-Cistercian St. John the Baptist Church in Przemęt (1651-1690), and the post-Cistercian monastery in Owińska whose present form dates from the early 18th century, are all prime examples of their artistry.
The Poznań parish church could serve as the baroque model for the “Knight of the Counterreformation”. The Jesuits came to Poznań in 1571, settled in the vicinity of the parish church and began building a monastic house and collegiate school.
The Discalced Carmelites settled on St. Wojciech Hill in Poznań in the 1st half of the 17th century. Krzysztof Bonadura the Elder, and later Jerzy Catenazzi, had the Church of St. Joseph built for them in 1644-1677. The eastern facade is one of Poland’s most beautiful towerless facades.
The St. Philip Neri Oratory church on Święta Góra (Holy Mountain) in Głogówko (a suburb of Gostyń), where the configuration of Venice’s Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (designed by Baldassare Longhena) has been imitated on a smaller scale, is definitely worth seeing.
Jan Catenazzi had a single-nave, three-bay church built for the order in Woźniki (Grodzisk Wielkopolski County) in 1706-1723. The monastery, designed by Jan Adam Stier, was erected next to the church in 1727-1741.
The post-Trinitarian Church of St. Peter and Paul in Krotoszyn was built in 1767-1774 according to a slightly modified version of Karol Marcin Frantz’s Rydzyna church design. Its body has a rectangular plan but the interior wall arrangement consists of concave and convex arches with no straight sections.
Among the non-monastic baroque churches worth mentioning is the St. Nicholas parish church in Leszno. The facade, with its two towers and three sections, is one of the most illustrious in Poland.