Religious sites in Poland

Church of St. Adalbert

The Church of St. Adalbert is one of the oldest stone churches in Poland. The Church was built in the 11th century and named after the martyred missionary Saint Adalbert whose body was bought back for its weight in gold from the pagan Prussia and placed in Gniezno Cathedral by Boleslaus I of Poland. The interior of the church is cramped, relative to its larger exterior. The floor level is situated under the present level ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kraków, Poland

St. Mary's Basilica

Church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven (also known as St. Mary"s Church) is a Brick Gothic church famous for its wooden altarpiece carved by Veit Stoss. According to chronicler Jan Długosz the first parish church at the Main Square in Kraków was founded in 1221–22 by the Bishop of Kraków, Iwo Odrowąż. The building was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of Poland. Between 1290&ndas ...
Founded: 1290-1320 | Location: Kraków, Poland

St. John's Archcathedral

St. John's Archcathedral in Warsaw stands immediately adjacent to Warsaw's Jesuit church, and is one of the oldest churches in the city. St. John's Archcathedral is one of Poland's national pantheons. Along with the city, the church has been listed by UNESCO as of cultural significance. Originally built in the 14th century in Masovian Gothic style, the Cathedral served as a coronation and burial site for numerous Dukes o ...
Founded: 1390 | Location: Warsaw, Poland

Wawel Cathedral

The Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus is a Roman Catholic church located on Wawel Castle hill. More than 900 years old, it is the Polish national sanctuary and traditionally has served as coronation site of the Polish monarchs as well as the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Kraków. The current, Gothic cathedral, is the third edifice on this site: the first was constructed and destroyed ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kraków, Poland

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church (Bazylika Mariacka) is the largest brick church in the world. According to tradition, as early as 1243 a wooden Church of the Assumption existed at this site, built by Prince Swantopolk II. The foundation stone for the new brick church was placed on on 25 March 1343. At first a six-span bay basilica with a low turret was built, erected from 1343 to 1360. Parts of the pillars and lower levels of the turre ...
Founded: 1343 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

St. Andrew's Church

The Church of St. Andrew was built between 1079 and 1098 by a medieval Polish statesman Palatine Sieciech. It is a rare surviving example of the European fortress church used for defensive purposes. Built in Romanesque style, it is one of the oldest buildings in Kraków and one of the best-preserved Romanesque buildings in Poland. It was the only church in Kraków to withstand the Mongol attack of 1241. Along the lower p ...
Founded: 1079-1098 | Location: Kraków, Poland

St. Elizabeth's Church

St. Elizabeth"s Church dates back to the 14th century, when construction was commissioned by the city. The main tower was originally 130 meters tall. From 1525 until 1946, St. Elizabeth"s was the chief Lutheran Church of Breslau/Wroclaw and Silesia. In 1946 it was expropriated and given to the Military Chaplaincy of the Polish Roman Catholic Church. The church was damaged by heavy hail in 1529, and gutted by fir ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Wrocław, Poland

St. Peter and Paul Church

The Church of Sts. Peter and Paul is a Baroque Jesuit church known best for the statues of the 12 disciples lining the fence at the front. Commissioned for the Jesuit order, Sts. Peter and Paul was the first baroque church in Krakow. It is one of the most faithful examples of transplanting the architecture of the famous Gesu Church in Rome to foreign soil, with a fine Baroque facade and great dome. It is said that the J ...
Founded: 1597-1619 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Church of St. Anne

The Church of St. Anne is one of the leading examples of Polish Baroque architecture. The church was first mentioned in 1381 in the deed of donation of Sulisław I Nawoja of Grodziec. In 1407 the church was completely destroyed during a fire, but it was rebuilt the same year in the Gothic style by King Władysław II Jagiełło. The king also attached the Church formally to the Jagiellonian University ...
Founded: 1689-1705 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Church of St. Francis of Assisi

The Church of St. Francis of Assisi with Monastery of the Franciscan Order is a Roman Catholic religious complex. The Church dates back to the 13th century. Saint Maximilian Kolbe was a monk there in 1919, and led his first service at this church on Poland"s return to sovereignty. There is no consensus among historians about the church"s founder. He was probably Duke Henry II the Pious (1196–1241), son of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kraków, Poland

Royal Chapel

Just to the north and completely overshadowed by St Mary's Church, sits the small Royal Chapel, squeezed between two houses. The only Baroque church in old Gdańsk, it was built between 1678 and 1681 to fulfil the last will of the primate of Poland of the time, Andrzej Olszowski. It was designed by famous royal architect Tylman van Gameren. Its façade is its more attractive feature, and bears the coats of arms ...
Founded: 1678-1681 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Holy Cross Church

The Church of the Holy Cross is one of the most notable Baroque churches in Poland"s capital. As early as the 15th century, a small wooden chapel of the Holy Cross had been erected here. In 1526 the chapel was demolished, and a newer church was erected. Refurbished and extended by Paweł Zembrzuski in 1615, the church was too small to fill the needs of the growing city. Initially located well outside the city lim ...
Founded: 1682 | Location: Warsaw, Poland

Holy Spirit Church

Holy Spirit Church was was built in late Baroque style in the mid-18th century by the Protestants, who were dispossessed of St. Mary’s Church as a result of the Tumult of Toruń in 1724. The slender church tower was added in the end of the 19th century. Today the church is a university church affiliated with Nicolaus Copernicus University. The most finest details in the church are the mid-18th century Rococo hig ...
Founded: c. 1750 | Location: Toruń, Poland

St. Giles Church

Built in the 13th century, St. Giles is the only church in Wrocław to have survived the Tatar invasions and is today the oldest active church in Wrocław.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Wrocław, Poland

Wroclaw Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a landmark of the city of Wrocław in Poland. The current standing cathedral is the fourth church to have been built on the site. A first church at the location of the present cathedral was built under Přemyslid rule in the mid 10th century, a fieldstone building with one nave about 25 m in length, including a distinctive transept and an apse. After the Polish conquest of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Wrocław, Poland

St. Bartholomew's Church

Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross and St. Bartholomew is one of Ostrów Tumski"s most beautiful and iconic structures, thanks to a 70m steeple and impressive entry staircase, this curious sanctuary is actually two churches in one. Split over two levels, the building comprises the shorter windows of the Church of St. Bartholomew beneath the soaring windows of the upper level Church of the Holy Cross. The first ...
Founded: 1295 | Location: Wrocław, Poland

Torun Cathedral

Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, since 1935 Minor Basilica, since 1992 the Cathedral of Toruń Diocese, is former main parish church of Old Town of Toruń. One of three Gothic churches of the town, built from brick, an aisled hall with a monumental west tower. The first church from the 13th century was a small hall without aisles and with polygonal presbytery. This was replaced by aisled ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Toruń, Poland

St. Mary's Church

The post-Franciscan Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, erected in the second half of the 14th century, is one of the most outstanding artistic and architectural achievements of sacral architecture in Poland. In the 14th century it was the highest hall church in Central Europe with the naves and aisles 26.8 metre high. The church provided inspiration for the extension of St. Johns’ Church in Toru ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Toruń, Poland

St. Catherine's Church

St Catherine's Church is the oldest church in Gdańsk. The first record dates from 1185, when Prince Sobieslaw I built a wooden church. It was replaced with a stone church in 1227-1239. St. Catherine’s church evolved over centuries and only reached its final shape in the mid-15th century. It was a Protestant church from 1545 until 1945, after which it became a Roman Catholic church. There are several magnificent ...
Founded: 1227-1239 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

St. Vincent's Church

The Church of St. Vincent is the seat of the Greek Catholic cathedral of Wrocław. The church was founded by Duke Henry II the Pious together with a monastery for the Franciscans brought from Prague around 1240, perhaps even as early as 1232 or 1234. Initially it was named for St. James and built in the Romanesque style. Very soon into its construction the crypt became the burial place of its founder, who was killed i ...
Founded: c. 1240 | Location: Wrocław, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.