Wawel Cathedral in Krakow – a place sanctified by Polish history
The Wawel Cathedral in Krakow is one of the most known churches and holiest places in Poland. Every Pole had heard of it, seen it in photographs or on television, if they thev have not visited it themselves. Certainly everyone in Krakow has visited it at least once and the cathedral is one destination of most all tourists in Krakow.
The history behind the Wawel Cathedral is even older than the currently existing building itself. The first cathedral was built somewhere between year 1000 and 1025. Little is known about this first structure. The second cathedral was built in the late XI and the XII century – it was a Romanesque church, consecrated in 1142. It survived until 1305 when it burned down. The third church was built in a several phases between 1320-1364. This Gothic cathedral was consecrated on the 28th March 1364. The breakthrough in the Wawel Cathedral history was the construction of the now well-known Sigismund’s Chapel in the 1st half of the XVI century. It was the royal chapel for the Jagiellonian dynasty. The last two Jagiellonians on the polish throne gave the Wawel Cathedral new interior Renaissance and Mannierist furnishings. The XVII century was the time when the interior of the cathedral had a Baroque style and the XVIII century alterations gave the cathedral its late-Baroque apperance which we see today.
The Wawel Cathedral has been the burial place of Polish monarchs since the late XI century and the main site of burials of Polish kings since the XIV century. Some time earlier in the XIV century it also obtained the function of the one and only coronation site for Polish kings and it remained so until the fall of Poland in the late XVIII century. Since then it has remained the burial place for Poland’s national heroes, grand poets and great statesmen.
Wawel Cathedral Info
Address: Wawel 3, 31-001 Krakow.
Map ref: 50.054636, 19.935432
Opening hours: Apr-Oct: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 12:30-5pm; Nov-May: Mon-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 12:30-4pm.
Cost: Admission to the cathedral is free. Tickets need to be bought for the Sigismund Bell, the Royal Tombs and the Cathedral Museum (regular 11/12 PLN, concession 6/7 PLN).
Images by Mateusz Świercz for Absolute Tours