Krakow’s main wealth is definitely its churches. In this city tradition and history are of great importance – churches, monasteries and other religious buildings are one of the main elements creating its historic character. On the touristic map of Krakow there are currently about 360 historic churches. Each one is built in its own unique style, so I chose 5 my favorite churches I highly recommend you to visit.
1. St. Mary Basilica
Address: Plac Mariacki, 5.
The Gothic Mariacki Church is the undoubted pride of not only Krakow, but Poland in general. The facade of this cathedral is represented by two towers of different heights. The interior is striking, since outstanding Italian, German and Polish masters worked on it, mixing Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau into a single whole. The main artistic value is the world’s largest wooden altar of the late 15th century. Concerts of organ music are sometimes organized at the Mariacki Church in the evenings. Be sure to visit the famous church when you are in Krakow, because it is a living legend of this unique city.
2. Saints Peter and Paul Church
Address: Grodzka 52A
The Church of St Peter and Paul was Krakow’s first church in the Baroque style. There are 12 apostles at the entrance to the temple. The interior of the building is amazing and in the center of it there is a beautiful altar. The dome is decorated with stucco. The reliefs on the walls here remind of Peter and Paul, they tell the story of the death of the saints. You can see with your own eyes the beautiful figurines of frescoes of the 18th century, as well as unique examples of painting and sculpture. Today this beautiful piece of heritage belongs to the Jagiellonian University. A lot of art vernissages are often held in its courtyard. Also I recommend you to attend one of the church’s classical music concerts, which take place every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8 in the evening.
3. Church of St Anna
Address: Świętej Anny 11
This is one of the most beautiful examples of «mature» baroque in Poland located at the very heart of Kraków. It is considered one of the most beautiful sacred buildings of the late XVII century in whole Poland. The interior of the church is very lavishly decorated: you can see alabaster decor and many marble columns. The edifice is crowned by a dome placed on the so-called pendentives featuring the cardinal virtues: Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude. The nave is decorated with six chapels, while the High Altar includes a picture representing St Anna Samotrzeć and sculptures of St Adalbert and St Stanislaus.
4. Church of St. Joseph
Address: ul. Jana Zamoyskiego 2, Podgórze
This beautiful church is for sure a sight to behold. It was erected in the years 1905-1909 on the site of a classical building. The author of the church is Jan Sas-Zubrzycki, who designed this neo-Gothic church with great pomp. It can be seen from the building itself, constructed with three towers, a steeple referring in its style to the tower of St. Mary’s Church and a richly decorated facade. The church outside is composed of architectural elements and details taken from Gothic cathedrals style as well as the spacious, bright interior of it, perfectly imitating basic Gothic features. The building has a high nave, two aisles, six chapels, a presbytery with the surrounding bypass, and a transept (nave in relation to the temple axis). In the main altar stands a statue of St. Józef – patron of the church, surrounded by sculptures of St. Anna and St. Joachim. Also I recommend you to visit it at night, when it is lit up.
5. St. Andrew’s Church
Address: ul. Grodzka 54
This is one of the oldest churches in Krakow, which was built in 1079-1098. It captivates with its great Romanesque form, contrasting with the baroque spires added in the 17th century. The treasury of the church holds priceless relics of the 13th century. The pulpit in the shape of a boat and the musical choir with 18th century organ in the chancel, decorated in Rococo manner are totally worth attention.
The church is an excellent example of the phenomenon of reduction, which means the preservation of all significant architectural elements, while reducing the scale and length of the naves. In the church of St. Andrew’s naves have only one span, so it is the absolute minimum.
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