Corpus Christi Basilica: the Diamond in the Rough of Krakow’s Jewish Quarter
Located a short walk southwest from Plac Nowy in Krakow’s Jewish Quarter, Corpus Christi Basilica (Polish: Bożego Ciała) is a true diamond in the rough. Its gothic, gumdrop-topped bell tower can be seen rising above a sea of smoke-blackened buildings for several blocks in any direction, as can its stepped brick façade and sharply sloping tile roof, each reaching heights of neck-craning proportions. Yet while the exterior of the church is impressive, it pales in comparison to the church’s marvelous baroque interior, a visual and spiritual feast of brick, marble, gold, as well as myriad oil paintings. The church also contains the tombs of several of Poland’s most important religious figures and artists, including St. Stanislaus of Kazimierz and Bartolommeo Berrecci, who designed the chapel at Wawel Castle.
Legend has it that King Casimir the Great ordered construction of the church in 1335 after miraculously recovering a monstrance which had been stolen from the Collegiate Church of All Saints on the Octave of Corpus Christi (an Octave is the eighth day after a holy feast in Roman Catholicism). The first church on the site was built from wood. The current brick church was built from 1385-1405, with the bell tower not being added until 1565-1582. The iconic paintings of Christ the Savior and Mother Mary in the nave, or front interior of the church, were both painted by Polish artist Luke Porębski at the beginning of the 17th century. The church’s organ, which is the largest instrument in Krakow, was built from 1958-1963, and contains a total of eighty-three pipes.
Despite being a popular destination for tour groups and wanderers roaming Kazimierz, Corpus Christi is still very much a living church, with many more worshippers attending than tourists, so if you visit, please be respectful of others’ beliefs. Raised voices, foul language, and revealing clothing are not acceptable. Hats should also be removed.
Images by Hannah Bialic for Absolute Tours
Corpus Christi Basilica Info
Address: Bożego Ciała 26
Kraków, Poland 31-056
Map ref: 50.0496832, 19.9445427
More info about Corpus Christi Basilica can be found here.
Opening hours: All day.
Best time to see it: Daytime
Find this on: Absolute Walking Tour, Jewish walk