Wawel – Cathedral

Wawel – Cathedral

The current cathedral, coming from 1364 r., it is the third temple standing in this place. Construction of the church of St.. Wacław and Stanisław, initiated by Bishop Nanker, completed in 1364 r. The original building, in its framework is gothic, It was built of brick and white limestone, giving it a three-nave form with a transept and an ambulatory around the presbytery. Over the years, chapels and outbuildings were added, which influenced the heightening of the aisles and disturbed the uniform character of the basilica.

A square limited by the shape of the Wawel Hill, on which the cathedral stands, it did not allow for larger-scale reconstructions. As a result, the cathedral that is admired today is a compilation of many architectural styles.

You can easily find a guide before entering, who will show you around the cathedral. The cost is not that big, and if the guide has an interesting story, it's even worth taking advantage of. Of course, there is always a risk, that he will come across the guide, who treats customers like childish barbarians.

The nave and the presbytery

The entrance to the Wawel Cathedral is from the west. The main entrance portal comes from 1640 r.; on the sides there are two 14th-century reliefs depicting St.. Margaret and St.. Michael. On the left side, there are some suspended animal bones (rhinoceros skull and bones of mammoth and whale) once considered to be the remains of giant prehistoric monsters. The front door is very old, wrought iron. They bear a multiplied motif of Casimir the Great's monogram, commonly known from the showcase of the Krakow television program. Those entering the interior are first enveloped in darkness. Only after a while the silver baroque confession of St.. Stanislaus, standing at the intersection of the nave and transept. The coffin of the patron saint of Poland is supported by four angels.

In the past, kings deposited their war trophies at the foot of this tomb. Jagiełło, for example, laid banners from Grunwald, and Jan Sobieski donated a banner from Vienna.

The entire altar was built in 1629 r. as intended by Giovanni Trevano; silver coffin with 1671 r., containing the bishop's remains, is the work of Piotr von der Rennen from Gdańsk. The previous one was robbed by the Swedes during the Deluge. The bas-reliefs on the sides of the coffin show scenes from the saint's life. The tall dome tomb is adored by the four tombstones on the pillars of the church, facing the sanctuary. They belong to the successors of St.. Stanislaus, Krakow bishops: Marcin Szyszkowski, Piotr Gembicki, Jan Małachowski and Kazimierz Łubieński.

The interior of the cathedral is not that big, as one would expect. Densely packed with altars and tombs, in the side aisles it is shrouded in shadow, but in the vicinity of the presbytery and the ambulatory it brightens up considerably. Due to the constant movement of visitors, it looks more like an auction house than a church. Only a few pray, the rest are watching, walks or rests

To look carefully at the presbytery, it's best to sit on a bench and let your eyes embrace the miracles here. And let it be aware of it, that it was here that the rulers of Poland were crowned and said goodbye during funerals. The main altar was built in the mid-17th century. It is covered with gold flakes, which add splendor to the inconspicuous, but the precious image of the Crucifixion. On the right, under a purple canopy, there is an ornate Baroque bishop's throne, next to which during the monarchy stood the throne of the king listening to the sermons. Under the steps in front of the altar, there is the tomb of Cardinal Fryderyk Jagiellończyk, bears a plate with reliefs (XVI w.) depicting a young cardinal entrusting himself to the protection of the Mother of God and St.. Stanisław and the miraculously resurrected Piotrowin.

On the left side (of the viewer) once was the first tomb of Queen Jadwiga. It is worth taking a look at the chancel vault, where 14th-century gothic sculptures have been preserved, the so-called figural keystones. Wooden stalls from the late Renaissance also attract attention, created in 1620 r., and large tapestries somewhat softening the austerity of the stone walls.