5 Plac Mariacki, Krakow, Poland
12 422 55 18
Bazylika Mariacka Krakow Reviews
the tower, the trumpet, the altar Jun 03, 2011
As I live in Kraków I can tell for sure that St. Mary's Basilica (Polish: Kościół Mariacki)is one of the most recognized symbols of this city.
WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL ?
First of all the church is famous because of it's beatiful two towers and more strictly because of what happens there every hours, every day of the year from the higher one of the towers:
The trumpet plays it's unique melody (called the Hejnał mariacki) from the tower's four windows - each having a sight for a different part of the world.
This custom has it's roots in the XIII centure. The legend says that back then one particular trumpeter was shot in the throat when he was playing the alarm melody before the Mongol attack on the city. Because of this legend, whenever the trumpeter plays the melody nowadays (standing at each of four windows) he suddenly breaks it and starts it from the beginning at the other window.
Off course after the trumpeter finishes to play, he waves to people from each window - the best place to see him and wave him back is Mały Rynek (english: Little Square Market).
The church has other symbols such as famous altarpiece carved by Veit Stoss (Wit Stwosz) and general majestic dark, gothic interiors. However, as spending time admiring churches from the inside is not what I like the most, for me the trumpeter's melody is the most important symbol of this Church :)
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Authentic church with amazing decorations on the inside Jul 13, 2008
To me, the Bazylika Mariacka or Basilica of Mary was the highlight of Krakow's old town. This church is placed at one corner of the main square Rynek Glowny, facing the Sukiennice cloth hall.
The outside isn't that much spectacular, constructed of brick stone and with two towers that aren't of the same hight nor form. There is though a legend attached to the towers. If I'm correct, it goes something like this:
It is said that two brothers worked on the basilica, each designing a tower. When the first noticed the construction of his brother became much more high and beautiful, he killed his competitor. Yet after he felt sorry and therefor threw himself from the highest of both towers.
You'll notice Poland is full of tales and legend. In fact, there is another story to be told about the Maria Basilica towers.
It is said that in the old days, a guard was watching out over Krakow when suddenly he saw an enemy army approaching. To warn the citizens he blew a melody on his trumpet, yet whilst doing so was hit by an arrow and died. The melody was therefore suddenly ended and the church was later completely destroyed by the enemy. Until today, every hour the song is played from upon the tower to remember this tragedy.
But now back to the facts though. Maria Basilica was constructed in the 16th century. Before there used to be a Roman church, but this was -as the legend tells- destroyed by the enemy. The construction one can admire today is of Gothic architecture.
As I already said it is basically the inside of the basilica that is a masterpiece. You'll find here the largest Gothic altar in Europe, beautifully decorated and painted. In the old days it used to be opened and closed at certain hours (like the one in Chestochowa) but now I believe it is mostly open.
Apart from the amazing altar, the walls and ceiling are wonderfully painted with colorful motives, mostly organic but sometimes also portraying. I had never seen a place were these decorations are so well preserved, on every inch of the walls. They are still so vivid and clear! These paintings make the Bazylika Mariacka a true enchant to visit, and very special amongst the dozens of other churches in and around Krakow.
In front of the church there used to be a graveyard. Today nothing is to be seen of it, as the square has been lifted.
There is an entrance fee for the building, which costs 6 PLN, but it is definitely worth it. You can't take pictures inside though, unless you pay extra. I didn't do so, but I believe the additional fee is some 5 PLN. Looking back to it now, I regret not have bought this photo permission, even though 5 PLN is expensive compared to the entrance fee.
Part of the Poland 2008 travel blog
Part of the list UNESCO World Inheritance
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy