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Krakow Cathedral

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 the Wawel Cathedral in the 19th century

Wawel Cathedral in Krakow

The Wawel Cathedral, Katedra Wawelska in Polish, was the coronation site of Polish monarchs and remains Poland's most important national sanctuary. Thanks to its 1000-year-old history and numerous treasures the Krakow cathedral is arguably the most interesting place in the whole country, with the adjacent Wawel Royal Castle being the close second. Its present 14th-century walls shelter a great variety of top-class objects of art, from Gothic to Renaissance to Baroque to Classicist to Modern. It is also the burial ground of most Polish royalty as well as the greatest national heroes, two poets, four saints and countless Krakow bishops. 

Treasures of the Wawel Cathedral 

The center of the Wawel Cathedral's nave is occupied by the 1630 mausoleum of St. Stanislav, Poland's saint patron, the 11th-century Krakow bishop murdered by King Boleslav II (1058–1079). The martyr’s silver coffin (circa 1670) is adorned with 12 relief scenes from his life and posthumous miracles. Marble tombs of four 17th-century Krakow prelates accompany their saint predecessor's chapel-mausoleum. 

The chancel of the Krakow Cathedral in the mid-19th century

The chancel of the Wawel Cathedral in the mid-19th century with the mausoleum of St. Stanislav in the background.

Near the main entrance to cathedral, between pillars on the right side of the nave, there is an excellent 15th-century late-Gothic sarcophagus of King Vladislav II Jagiello (1386–1434) of red Hungarian marble. And on the left side it is mirrored by the 1906 good imitation of a Gothic sarcophagus by way of a symbolic tomb of King Vladislav III Warnenczyk (1434–1444) whose body wasn't found on the battlefield at Varna. At the end of the north aisle there is the mid-l4th-century sandstone sarcophagus, the cathedral’s oldest, of King Vladislav I the Short (1320–1333). His son, King Casimir III Great (1333–1370), has his tomb on the other side of the High Altar, across the nave, at the end of the south aisle. The late-l4th-century red marble sarcophagus ranks among Europe's best sculptures of the period. In the middle of the south aisle one finds the 1902 sarcophagus of Queen-Saint Jadwiga (1384–1399) carved in white Carrara marble with her grave insignia, wooden scepter and orb, displayed near by. 

Huge crucifix of Poland's queen-saint Jadwiga in the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow
The 14th-century crucifix of Queen-Saint Jadwiga in the Wawel Cathedral allegedly spoke to her.

Eighteen chapels full of art treasures surround the Wawel Cathedral. Magnificent white “pearl of the Renaissance" vis-a-vis the tomb of Queen Jadwiga, the Sigismund Chapel, couples the exquisite Baroque of the black marble Vasa Chapel. The Chapel of the Holy Cross (first to the right on entrance) seems most interesting owing to its 1470 Russian murals and the splendid 1492 marble sarcophagus of King Casimir IV Jagiello (1447–1492) by Veit Stoss. The chapel also boasts two outstanding late-Gothic triptychs by 15th-century Krakow painters, the imposing 1789 late-Baroque tomb of Bishop Soltyk, and fine stained-glass widows of the turn of the 20th century. 

Other attractions of the Krakow cathedral

Crypts of the Wawel Cathedral, including the fine Romanesque underground chapel of St. Leonard, have been turned into the nation's paramount mausoleum with tombs of the royals and national heroes. 

Two belfries of the Krakow Cathedral contain ten ancient bells including giant Sigismund (Zygmunt) bell of 1520 which visitors may see and even touch. 

Note: Box office in the building opposite the main gate of the cathedral sells joint tickets for the cathedral, its royal tombs, the Sigismund bell, and the Poets' Crypt. 

Please remember to see the royal crypts at the end of you visit to the cathedral as the exit leads outside.    

The layout of the Wawel Cathedral

the layout of the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow

Wawel Hill
Wawel Hill in Krakow, the mecca of every Pole and a must for foreign tourists, is a microcosm of Polish history and culture.

Krakow's John Paul II Cathedral Museum

Wawel Royal Castle
Home to three dynasties of Poland's monarchs. Its stately halls and exquisite chambers are filled with priceless art, best period furniture and rare ancient objects. The collection of the 16th-century monumental Flemish tapestries is matchless.

Sigismund Chapel
The pearl of Renaissance architecture and art. Every inch of its ideally proportioned stone walls and dome is covered with fine sculptures.

Royal Tombs
Poland's medieval rulers are buried under their sarcophagi in the Cathedral's nave. Visitors can also see crypts with the tombs of the Renaissance and later monarchs.

Great Bell
Giant Zygmunt bell is a third heavier and 350 years older than its famed London cousin, the Big Ben.

Black Christ's Crucifix
650-year-old, 13-foot-tall remarkable sculpture of the Savior provided guidance to Queen-Saint Jadwiga in the 14th century and has heard prayers of the faithful ever since.

sarcophagus of King Vladislav I the Short in the Wawel Cathedral of Krakow
Sandstone sarcophagus of King Vladislav I the Short (1320–1333) dates to the mid l4th century

In the footsteps of Pope John Paul II

Krakow churches
Krakow numerous churches are architectural gems, art hoards, and spiritual hubs

Roman Catholic Church
Sunday Masses


(together with the Zygmunt bell and Royal Tombs as well as the Cathedral Museum)
tickets normal 12 zlotys, reduced 7 zlotys.
day from till
Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. 5 p.m.
Sundays and Holidays 12:30 p.m. 4 p.m.

The Wawel Hill is accessible to visitors daily since April through September from 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. and since October through March from 6.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. The Royal Castle's arcaded courtyard is off limits half an hour before the closing time. 

The following are permanent exhibitions of the Royal Castle on the Wawel Hill:
Royal Chambers (State Rooms) - historical interiors, tapestry collection of Sigismund II Augustus, royal portraits, Italian Renaissance furniture, Italian and Dutch painting of the 14th to 17th century. 
Royal Private Apartments - rooms where the Polish royalty lived, period furniture and art.  
Crown Treasury and Armory
- regalia, jewelry, precious weapons, armors and caparisons; Polish and West European.
Oriental Art - Turkish tents and banners, Turkish and Persian weapons and carpets, Chinese and Japanese ceramics.
The Lost Wawel - archaeological and architectural reserve of the early 11th-century church of St. St. Felix and Adauctus' with surroundings; objects excavated by archeologists on the Wawel Hill; ornate stove tiles of the 16th and 17th century. Plus multimedia presentation of the Wawel Hill's history.
Dragon's Den - big cave said to be the fiery monster's hideout.

Admission terms and fees might be subject to changes. For inquiries and booking please contact the Tourist Service Office (BOT), Wawel 5, 31-001 Kraków, Poland, tel.: (+48) 124225155 ext. 291, tel./fax: (+48) 124221697. Email:


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