The Bishop’s Palace – the home of the pious and brave leaders of the Krakow church
The Bishop’s Palace is one of the best-known and most significant religious sites in Krakow. One interesting fact about it is that citizens and tourists together recognize the builiding, but not because it is the home of the archbishop of Krakow – it is the place where the famous “papal window” of Pope John Paul II is located. Not many passers-by know that the building itself dates back to the late XIV cent. and since then has been the home of the bishops and archbishops of Krakow.
The first historical mention of the Bishop’s Palace dates back to 1384. Before the building was constructed and ready to inhabit, the bishops of Krakow had lived on Wawel Hill beside the Wawel Cathedral. The first building on today’s Franciszkanska St. was
rebuilt by bishop Zbigniew Olesnicki before 1424 and stood until 1462, when a disastrous fire ruined the palace. After that the palace was reconstructed and rebuilt over and over again, the first time in the early XVI cent. and then in 1551 and 1567. After king Zygmunt III Waza left Krakow, the palace languished.
The resurgence of the palace is the merit of bishop Piotr Gembicki, who had the building rebuilt and redecorated between 1643 and 1647 and we owe today’s look of the palace to him. Unfortunately, the Swedish occupying army had looted and ruined the building during the Second Northern War (the Swedish Deluge 1655-1660) when they captured Krakow. After the city was
recaptured by Polish troops the palace was renewed in 1659. Some of the renewal works went on until 1692.
The next tragic event for the palace occured in 1793, when the Russian occupying troops sequestered the bulding and changed it into a military barracks and a warehouse. After that the palace had to be renewed and this took place between 1796 and 1800, and next between 1817 and 1820 by bishop Jan Pawel Woronicz. Unfortunately again, a disastrous fire ruined the palace in 1850 and it had to be rebuilt once more, this time by bishop Albin Dunajewski. Since then, the palace bypassed any evil circumstances and events.
The palace was the home of bishop Karol Wojtyla between 1964 and 1978, since 1978 until his death in 2005 – Pope John Paul II. Every time he visited Krakow on his pilgrimages, he stayed in his previous home and attended the people from one of the palace’s windows, situated above the gate-entrance to the palace. When you pass by the building, you can view a beautiful picture of John Paul II in the window and read the memorial tablet near the entrance.
Bishop’s Palace Info
Address: Franciszkanska 3, 31-004 Krakow.
Map ref: 50.059487, 19.935204
Opening hours: You can view the palace and the premises during the day, between 6am and 9pm.
Cost: Admission to the palace and premises is free.
http://www.diecezja.pl/ [only in Polish]
Images by Mateusz Świercz for Absolute Tours