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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Address

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

Details

Founded: 14th century
Category: Religious sites in Poland

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Pete Greg (2 years ago)
It's a nice cathedral the bit we saw but to complete the full tour you have to pay. This bit I don't agree with. It's a place of worship and should be open to all. Nearly everybody makes a donation anyway so why ask for more? Is the "house of God" not free to all?
Nagy Krisztián (2 years ago)
There is a beautiful cathedral, renowned. There are a lots of historical memories, wonderful.
Dessi Eriksson (3 years ago)
It was very beautiful and magestic; paid for a head set and I could climb up to the tower with the old Bells. Beautiful view and fun "climbing" - very very narrow. A lot of information, and not too long to get tired. Worth the price, but it doesn't take longer than 1,5h at most. I had planed for a 1/2 a day there, but it's not as big as I had imagine. But I am more than satisfied.
ti ti (3 years ago)
Impressive place,so definitely worth a visit. There up, a fantastic view over the city opens!
Marcin Tandecki (3 years ago)
When visiting the Wawel Castle, you'll undoubtedly end up here, and it's well worth the visit. Take a moment to read about it's history, or take the audio guide to fully understand all that is in here, and get an appreciation for how this iconic cathedral came to be.
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