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Sanctuary of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Near Krakow

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the sanctuary of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska

Calvary Sanctuary in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska 

In 1600 Poland’s first Calvary sanctuary was established in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, a town in the Carpathian Foothills 33 km southwest from Krakow, to provide pilgrims with a substitute of Jerusalem lost to the Muslim Turks and thus unavailable at the time. With its 42 churches and chapels of all shapes and sizes in addition to the central basilica and the Franciscan monastery, the vast complex of buildings scattered among woods on the slopes of the 527-meter-high Zar mountain grew to be the biggest such compound in Europe. It is also Poland’s second most important historic destination for pilgrims. Over ages the pilgrimage to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska influenced millions of Poles. And one frequent pilgrim proved very special–Pope John Paul II, born in nearby Wadowice,


UNESCO has entered the sanctuary in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska in its list of the World Heritage sites.

icon of the Our Lady of Kalwaria  Our Lady of Kalwaria is one of Poland's holiest icons.

The sanctuary's places of interest

The 17th-century Baroque church of the Angelic Mother of God’s adjoins the Franciscan monastery of the same age. Their most worshiped place is the chapel with Our Lady of Kalwaria miraculous picture, followed by the chapel of St. Anthony of Padua. It is the starting point of several overlapping pilgrimage circuits, the Passion Path in the first place, laid out in hilly woodland from one Baroque chapel to another. Each of the 42 tiny churches is different and represents a Jerusalem site prominent in the New Testament and/or the Christian tradition, be it the Virgin Mary’s Cottage or Herod’s Place, while hills and streams bear such names as Zion, Golgotha, and Mount of Olives.

Holy traditions and famous festivals 

Pilgrimages to the Kalwaria sanctuary best exemplify Polish grassroots Catholicism. Pilgrims usually come in large groups to pray and contemplate together. And the Good Friday feasts, when the famous traditional lifelike Passion plays are enacted in the scenery of the sanctuary, draw huge crowds every year. Another feast brings in faithful multitudes on August 15, the Assumption day.


The town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska
The Calvary sanctuary, immensely popular with pilgrims from the outset, soon gave rise to the town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska that has also been famous for its cabinetmakers since the mid 18th century. 

Nowadays some 1,500 artisans manufacture classy furniture, customized and largely hand-made, in the town of 4,500 or so. Every July they exhibit their skill at month-long furniture fairs.

Jasna Gora Sanctuary in Czestochowa is the holiest place of Poland and one of the world’s most important destinations for pilgrims.

Sanctuary of Divine Mercy
Humble nun’s visions in the 1930s gave rise to a world-wide spiritual movement inside the Catholic Church, ever stronger nowadays, with the center in her Krakow convent.

Krakow's Skalka Sanctuary
Poland’s second holiest shrine at the site of St. Stanislav’s 1079 martyrdom. Splendid Baroque church and fine monastery modeled on a Renaissance castle. 

Other UNESCO World Heritage sites in Krakow and the Malopolska Province

Krakow's Old Town historic district 

Auschwitz concentration camp

The Calvary sanctuary of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska 

Malopolska's wooden churches

In the proximity of Krakow
Krakow is Poland's tourist mecca, and also a gateway to many other must-see sites in the region.

Zakopane, Poland's famed mountain resort 

Health resort of Rabka Zdroj

Malopolska Province

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Poland's prime tourist attraction and a must in Central Europe boasts numerous world-class monuments, charming vistas, delightful atmosphere, and the best restaurants.

In the footsteps of Pope John Paul II

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