1. Sacred Destinations
  2. Poland
  3. Krakow
  4. St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church, Krakow

Photo © Stuart Jenkins. View all images in our St. Mary's Church Photo Gallery.
Photo © Zuzana Bohackova.
Photo © Joanna.
Photo © Szczur.
Photo © Christopher Walker.

St. Mary's Church (Kosciól Mariacki) in Krakow is a large 14th-century church especially famed for its magnificent wooden altarpiece.

History

Krakow's original St. Mary's Church was destroyed during the 13th-century Tartar raids; rebuilding began relatively soon after.

The present church was built on the foundations of its predecessor, which was built before the town plan of 1257. This is why it stands slightly askew from the main square.

The new St. Mary's Church was completed in 1397; the towers were added in the 15th century.

In the 20th century, St. Mary's Church made an appearance in the film Schindler's List.

What to See

The church's two towers (15th century) are noticeably of different heights. Legend has it that they were built by two brothers, one of whom grew jealous of the other's work and killed him with a sword. You can even see the purported murder weapon, hanging in the gate of the Sukiennice.

The hushed interior, vibrant with color under a starry blue vault, is a must-see. The effect recalls that of Paris' Sainte-Chapelle or Rome's Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.

But the undisputed highlight of the interior is the magnificent 15th-century wooden altarpiece by the master carver Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoss). Incorporating more than 200 carved and painted figures, the panels depict medieval life in detail. The figure in the bottom right-hand corner of the Crucifixion panel is believed to be Stwosz' self-portrait.

Another major highlight is the lone trumpeter in the high tower, who plays a strange hourly call known as the "Hejnal Mariacki." Ringing out to mark each hour, it breaks off on an abrupt half-note to commemorate an unknown bugler who was struck in the throat by a Tartar arrow as he tried to warn the city of the invaders.

Quick Facts on St. Mary's Church

Site Information
Names:Kosciol Mariacki; St. Mary's Church; St. Mary's Church, Krakow
City:Krakow
Country:Poland
Categories:Churches
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Krakow, Poland
Coordinates:50.061685° N, 19.939338° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of St. Mary's Church

Below is a location map and aerial view of St. Mary's Church. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Frommer's Eastern Europe, 1st ed. (April 2007).
  2. Fodor's Poland, 1st. ed. (May 2007).

More Information

Article Info

Title:St. Mary's Church, Krakow
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:08/20/2009
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/poland/krakow-st-marys-church/poland/krakow
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/poland/krakow-st-marys-church/poland/krakow">St. Mary's Church, Krakow</a>