St. Mary's Basilica

Kraków, Poland

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 1290–1300 the new early Gothic church was built on the remaining foundations. It was consecrated twenty years later, in 1320.

The church was completely rebuilt under the reign of Casimir III the Great between 1355 and 1365 with substantial contributions from wealthy restaurateur Mikołaj Wierzynek. The presbytery was elongated and tall windows added. The main body of the church was completed in 1395–97 with the new vault constructed by master Nicholas Werhner from Prague. However, the vault over the presbytery collapsed in 1442 due to a possible earthquake, which never happen before nor after in Kraków.

In the first half of the 15th century, the side chapels were added. Most of them were the work of master Franciszek Wiechoń. At the same time the northern tower was raised and designed to serve as the watch tower for the entire city. In 1478 carpenter Maciej Heringh funded a helmet for the tower. A gilded crown was placed on it in 1666, which is still present today. At the end of the 15th century, St Mary's church was enriched with a sculptural masterpiece, an Altarpiece of Veit Stoss (Ołtarz Mariacki Wita Stwosza) of late Gothic design.

In the 18th century, by the decision of vicar Jacek Augustyn Łopacki, the interior was rebuilt in the late Baroque style. The author of this work was Francesco Placidi. All 26 altars, equipment, furniture, benches and paintings were replaced and the walls were decorated with polychrome, the work of Andrzej Radwański.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the city has decided that a cemetery near the Basilica was to be shut down and made into a public square. Today it is known as Plac Mariacki (The Marian Square). In the years 1887–1891, under the direction of Tadeusz Stryjeński the neo-Gothic design was introduced into the Basilica. The temple gained a new design and murals painted and funded by Jan Matejko, who worked with Stanislaw Wyspianski and Józef Mehoffer - the authors of stained glass in the presbytery.

On every hour, a trumpet signal—called the Hejnał mariacki—is played from the top of the taller of St. Mary's two towers. The plaintive tune breaks off in mid-stream, to commemorate the famous 13th century trumpeter, who was shot in the throat while sounding the alarm before the Mongol attack on the city. The noon-time hejnał is heard across Poland and abroad broadcast live by the Polish national Radio 1 Station.

St. Mary's Basilica also served as an architectural model for many of the churches that were built by the Polish diaspora abroad, particularly those like St. Michael's and St. John Cantius in Chicago, designed in the so-called Polish Cathedral style.

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Founded: 1290-1320
Category: Religious sites in Poland

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Veronika Labancová (9 months ago)
The basilica is beautiful, no doubts. If you are in Kraków, you have to visit it. I do not understand how is it not possible to pay the tickets by card. But there is an ATM nearby. My question is, why, in the tourist center in the opposite side of the church, is it not possoble to use a card? I am sure lot of people would appreciate that.
Philippe Damoiseaux (9 months ago)
It's a very beautiful church with all the walls painted which is unusual for a european church. If you want to walk around you have to pay 10 zloty pp. But if you want to just pray it is free. Therefore I suggest to go in the front and look at everything from a distance instead of paying the 10 zloty pp
Nikki P (9 months ago)
I’ve seen a lot of churches but this one is definitely worth visiting. The ceiling and decorations are beautiful. The tickets are pretty cheap and can be bought across the side entrance. You can go in for free through the main entrance but you aren’t able to walk around and can only go in as far as a couple of rows. Make sure to have something to cover your shoulders otherwise you are not allowed in the church.
ASAD (10 months ago)
I would say this place is heart of Krakow, Poland. It is located in Market Square, Krakow surrounded by multiple Cafes, bars and restaurants. It is quite crowded with the tourists. Even at the night time, this place has some activities and the beautiful views to explore. I would highly recommend this place to the tourists.
Steven N (15 months ago)
An amazing atmosphere and scale. The stained glass is wonderful.
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