Wawel Cathedral

Kraków, Poland

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 in the 11th century; the second one, constructed in the 12th century, was destroyed by a fire in 1305. The construction of the current one began in the 14th century on the orders of bishop Nanker.

The Cathedral comprises a nave with aisles, transepts with aisles, a choir with double aisles, and an apse with ambulatory and radiating chapels. The main altar, located in the apse, was founded about 1650 by Bishop Piotr Gembicki and created by Giovanni Battista Gisleni. The altar painting of Crucified Christ by Marcin Blechowski is from the 17th century. Over the main altar stands a tall canopy of black marble supported by four pillars, designed by Giovanni Battista Trevano and Matteo Castelli between 1626 and 1629. Underneath the canopy is placed a silver coffin of national patron saint St. Stanislaus (Stanisław) created between 1669-1671 after the previous one (donated in 1512 by King Sigismund I the Old) was stolen by the Swedes in 1655.

The Wawel Cathedral has been the main burial site for Polish monarchs since the 14th century. As such, it has been significantly extended and altered over time as individual rulers have added multiple burial chapels.

Sigismund's Chapel, adjoining the southern wall of the cathedral, is one of the most notable pieces of architecture in Kraków and a pure example of Renaissance architecture outside Italy. Financed by Sigismund I the Old, it was built between 1517 and 1533 by Bartolommeo Berrecci, a Florentine Renaissance architect, who spent most of his career in Poland.

A square-based chapel with a golden dome, it houses the tombs of its founder and those his children, King Sigismund II Augustus and Anna Jagiellon (Jagiellonka).

The crypt beneath the Wawel Cathedral holds the tombs of Polish kings, national heroes, generals and revolutionaries.



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Zamek Wawel 5, Kraków, Poland
See all sites in Kraków


Founded: 14th century
Category: Religious sites in Poland


4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Lowri Bracey (2 years ago)
We enjoyed the visit to the Cathedral although, sadly, it was not well signposted when we were inside. There was a large tour group in the main cathedral when we first arrived and so we followed a sign to the crypt to give them time to finish their tour. We were unaware that this was also the exit through the crypt (there was no indication of this on the sign) and so we were unable to return to see the cathedral itself. That was disappointing as we would have loved to explore the cathedral itself more. The crypt was interesting and some of the sarcophagus are very elaborate.
Jorian van Dorrestein (2 years ago)
Its worth to visit. Its a bit sad that its necessary to pay for entree. It would be better if that wouldn't be the case, specially because they also get funded. Is it worth the price? Yes, it is. You really see the highlights of the history of Poland and so its highlight architecture. On top of all their is a gorgeous view from the bell tower.
Eirini Stamati (3 years ago)
Stunning cathedral with underground crypts of many important polish personalities. We didn't get the audio guide but I'm slightly regretting it now. The whole area around the cathedral and the castle is extremely picturesque and one simply has to take a walk around the buildings. On the down side, the ticket to the cathedral doesn't grand you entry to the WC, for which you have to pay.
Furkan Emre Bircan (3 years ago)
There are many churches in Krakow, especially in the old town. If I'm not mistaken this church is the biggest of them all. I feel the spirits of people inside that need to be respected.
Valentina Monica (3 years ago)
House of Poland's history with colorful chapels from different ages and many tombs and house of Smok, living and real and just waiting for the right moment to breathe fire again. A shrine to the power of the local catholic church and its sanctified bishops, whose power insignias lie everywhere in defiance of God's authority.
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