Krakow Sights

Kościół Mariacki (Church of Our Lady)

  • Rynek Główny, tourist entrance from side of plac Mariacki Map It
  • Stare Miasto
  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Published 07/06/2017

Fodor's Review

Dominating the northeast corner of Rynek Główny is the twin-towered Church of Our Lady, which is also known as St. Mary's Church. The first church was built on this site before the town plan of 1257, which is why it stands slightly askew from the main square; the present church, completed in 1397, was built on the foundations of its predecessor. You'll note that the two towers, added in the early 15th century, are of different heights. Legend has it that they were built by two brothers, one of whom grew jealous of the other's work and slew him with a sword. You can still see the supposed murder weapon, hanging in the gate of the Sukiennice.

From the higher tower, a strange bugle call—known as the "Hejnał Mariacki"—rings out to mark each hour, breaking off on an abrupt sobbing note to commemorate an unknown bugler struck in the throat by a Tartar arrow as he was playing his call to warn the city of imminent attack. The legend, which seems to have originated with Polish immigrants

in the U.S., was captured in print by American author Eric Philbrook Kelly in his novel The Trumpeter of Krakow (1928).

The church's main showpiece is the magnificent wooden altarpiece with more than 200 carved figures, the work of the 15th-century artist Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoss). The panels depict medieval life in detail; the figure in the bottom right-hand corner of the Crucifixion panel is believed to represent Stwosz himself. A late 19th-century renovation added even more murals by artist Jan Matejko, who was aided by his disciples, Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański. From April to October it is possible to climb the taller of the towers (the entry costs 15 złoty), but please note this is an arduous climb, and for safety reasons, children under seven years of age are not admitted.

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Sight Information


Rynek Główny, tourist entrance from side of plac Mariacki, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland

Map It


Sight Details:

  • Church free; altar zł 10; tower zł 15
  • Tower closed Mon. and Jan. and Feb.

Published 07/06/2017


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