St. Leonard's crypt dates from the 11th century.
Royal tombs of the Wawel Cathedral in
Whereas Poland's medieval monarchs were buried under the
floor of the Wawel Cathedral below their sarcophagi,
those of the l6th, the 17th and the 18th centuries were laid
to rest in its crypts. That innovation, too, was introduced
by King Sigismund I the Old. In 1533 he transferred the body
of his first wife to a purpose-built vault underneath the
brand-new exquisite chapel named after him later on. He
joined her in 1548.
Most crypts of the Wawel Cathedral date back to the l6th and
the 17th century and they entomb ten Polish monarchs
together with their spouses and occasionally children. Then
the nation's greatest war heroes were honored with the
burial in the Cathedral's vaults – Prince Jozef Poniatowski
in 1817, Tadeusz Kosciuszko in 1818, Marshal Jozef Pilsudski
in 1935, and General Wladyslaw Sikorski in 1993.
Vestibule of the Marshal Pilsudski
crypt at the Krakow Cathedral.
In 2010 President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria were
buried in the vestibule of the Wawel Cathedral's Marshal
Pilsudski crypt, which created considerable controversy at
The remains of two 19th-century Polish outstanding poets –
Adam Mickiewicz in 1890 and Juliusz Slowacki in 1927 – were
buried in the separate "Bards' Crypt" which contains also a
symbolic tomb of Cyprian Kamil Nowid, another great poet,
and a plaque commemorating Frederic Chopin.
In 1873 royal crypts were connected and made open to the
public. The entrance is on the left of the nave in the first
chapel of the north aisle. The tour of the tombs starts in
the vast 11th-century Crypt of St. Leonard's, considered the
best Romanesque interior in Poland.
Tadeusz Kosciuszko's sarcophagus
dates from 1818.