Friday, March 13, 2020

The Wawel Cathedral in Krakow

Following up on two recent posts of Nicola’s photos from his recent visit to Krakow, both of which featured objects from the treasury of the Wawel cathedral (on Feb. 27 and Mar. 4), here are some photos of the cathedral itself, which is offically known as the Cathedral Archbasilica of Ss Stanislaus and Wenceslaus. This is certainly one of the most beautiful and best maintained major cathedrals in Europe.

The collection of Renaissance and Baroque side-chapels built out the side of the 14th-century northern Gothic main body gives the church its lovely sand-castle-like appearance. The bell-tower in their midst is part of the original structure, and known as the “Tower of the Silver Bells.” To its left in this photo (on the other side of the building) is the Clock Tower, completed in 1522; its upper section, added in 1677, was blown off by a storm in 1703, and fell through the roof of the cathedral; the replacement was added 13 years later.
Two chapels added onto the front in the 15th century partly obscure the original façade, which preserves an original rose window.
The central nave, with the altar that preserves the relics of St Stanislaus, bishop of Krakow martyred by the impious King Boleslaus II in 1079, and one of the Patron Saints of Poland.
The altar and its baldachin were installed in the 17th century; the silver reliquary, supported by four angels, is decorated with scenes of the Saint’s life.
The choir and the main altar.
The right nave
The cathedral is located on the Wawel hill, within the large precinct of the Wawel castle, and was the coronation church of the Polish monarchs, many of whom are buried in it. Here is the original tomb of St Jadwiga (1373 ca. - 1399) who was crowned Queen of Poland in 1384. She was canonized by Pope St John Paul II in 1997, and her relics transferred to an altar which is seen below.
King Casimir III (1310-70, crowned in 1333), also known as “the Great”, the last of the Piast Dynasty which had ruled Poland since ca. 960.
John I Albert (1459-1501), King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1492 until his death.
The retrochoir contains this altar with a black crucifix in front of which St Jadwiga was wont to pray, and which miraculously spoke to her; her relics are now in the altar itself.
St Jadwiga’s husband, Ladislaus II (1352/62 - 1434), Grand Duke of Lithuania. Born and raised a pagan, he converted to Christianity to marry Jadwiga, who was eleven at time, and on her death in 1399, became also King of Poland. This created the union of states known in English as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which would last until 1795. 
Ladislaus III (1424-44), crowned at the age of sixteen, and killed at the age of twenty at the Battle of the Varna while fighting against the Turkish invasion of central Europe. From 1440, he was also King of Hungary and Croatia.
The monument of King Jan III Sobieski, the hero of the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
The archbishop’s throne at the main altar.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: