Wawel Cathedral

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Wawel Cathedral
South view

South view

Construction year: 1000
Inauguration: 1000
Style elements : Romanesque , Gothic , Renaissance , Mannerism , Baroque
Client: Catholic Church
Location: 50 ° 3 '16 "  N , 19 ° 56' 7"  E Coordinates: 50 ° 3 '16 "  N , 19 ° 56' 7"  E
Address: Wawel
Purpose: Roman Catholic castle church
Diocese : Krakow

The Royal Basilica and Arch-Cathedral of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslas on Wawel Hill ( Polish : Bazylika archikatedralna św. Stanisława i św. Wacława ) in Krakow , also known as Wawel Cathedral (Polish: katedra wawelska ), has a thousand-year history as the cathedral of the Diocese of Cracow, established in the year 1000 (archdiocese from 1925) . It is considered a Polish national shrine because it served as the place of coronation and marriages of Polish monarchs, as the burial place of most of the kings of Poland and their families, as well as the bishops and archbishops of Krakow , some national heroes and most famous artists of Poland.


Main entrance
Location of the cathedral on Wawel Hill in Krakow
Side entrance
Interior view of the high altar
Jacob van Zeunen tapestries

The cathedral is located outside the old town of Krakow on a limestone formation called Wawel Hill, which rises about 25 meters above the left bank of the Vistula . On the platform of the hill, protected by high walls and towers as a fortress, the cathedral is part of a diverse architectural ensemble that has been built there over the centuries around the medieval residence of the dukes and kings of Poland - Wawel Castle - and around the cathedral. The place, whose special position is underlined by its elevated position high above the city, is of particular importance for Poland, since it was the ruler's residence from the 11th to the 16th century and thus the center of secular power and at the same time the residence of the bishop from Krakow and through the cathedral was the center of spiritual power, which became a national shrine as the burial place of saints, kings, princes, bishops and heroes. No wonder then that the cathedral was considered the “apple of the eye” of the Jagiellonians .


There were two previous buildings on the site of the current church: the St. Wenceslas Cathedral from 1020 (destroyed in 1038 by the Czech prince Břetislav) and the three-aisled Romanesque cathedral, consecrated in 1142, with the grave of St. Bishop and martyr Stanislaus from Szczepanów.

This building fell victim to a fire in 1305; only the St. Leonhard's crypt remained. A few years later, Bishop Nanker began building a Gothic cathedral, which was completed in 1346, after 40 years of construction. Since Krakow was Poland's capital until 1609 and the royal palace stood on Wawel Hill, the cathedral also served as the court church and Poland's kings were buried in the crypt.

Several chapels were added to the cathedral after the Middle Ages. On the south wall of the cathedral, Bartholomeo Berrecci from Florence created the Sigismund Chapel (1517–1533) on behalf of King Sigismund I the Elder. The domed chapel on a square floor plan is significant in terms of art history. There are the graves of King Sigismund I and his children, King Sigismund II August and Anna Jagiellonica . A plastic representation of himself on a tumba by Veit Stoss has been preserved from King Casimir IV. Andrew . A grave slab by the artist Hermann Vischer the Younger commemorates Cardinal Friedrich Jagiello . Another important tomb comes from Władysław I. Ellenlang from the first half of the 14th century. The tomb for King Stephan Báthory is located in the Lady Chapel , which was erected around 1594 by the Italian sculptor Santi Gucci .

In the Sigismund bell tower, built in the second half of the 14th century as part of the fortifications, there is the most venerable bell in Poland, called "Sigismundus". Poland's holy Queen Jadwiga (Hedwig of Poland) was buried in the cathedral in 1399. In the 17th century the mausoleum of St. Stanislaus erected.

In the 18th century, parts of the building and the interior were given a Baroque style . From 1964 to 1978 the Krakow Kathedra was the episcopal church of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła (later Pope John Paul II ), who was Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Krakow during this period. In 1946 he had already celebrated his primacy in the Leonhard Crypt .

Interior decoration

Floor plan overview of the areas of the cathedral
Katedra na Wawelu - map with numbers.svg

1. Sigismundus Bell Tower
2. Treasury
3. Czartoryski Chapel
4. Rogowski Chapel
5. Maciejewski Chapel
6. Lipski Chapel
7. Skotnicki Chapel
8. Zebrzydowski Chapel
9. Sacristy
10. Gamrat Chapel
11. Mary Chapel
12 . Tomicki chapel

13. Załuski Chapel
14. Jan Olbracht Chapel
15. Zadzik Chapel
16. Konarski Chapel
17. Sigismund Chapel
18. Vasa Chapel
19. Szafraniec Chapel
20. Potocki Chapel
21. Holy Cross Chapel
22 . Queen Sophie chapel
23 Stanislaus Mausoleum
24 main altar



The organ goes back to an instrument that was built between 1502 and 1506. In the course of time the organ has been restored, reorganized and expanded several times. Today it has 32 stops on two manuals and a pedal .

I. Manuals C – a 3
Bourdon 16 ′
Principal 8th'
Major flute 8th'
Gemshorn 8th'
Portal flute 8th'
Gamba 8th'
Octave 4 ′
Minor flood 4 ′
horn 4 ′
Fifth 2 23
Piccolo 2 ′
Mixture II-IV
Trumpet 8th'
II. Manuals C – a 3
Flood 8th'
Amabilis 8th'
Quintadena 8th'
Salicet 8th'
Vox Celestis 8th'
bass 4 ′
Transverse flute 4 ′
Violino 4 ′
Night horn 2 ′
third 1 35
Sifflet 1'
Clarinet 8th'
Pedals C – f 3
Violon bass 16 ′
Sub bass 16 ′
Octave bass 8th'
cello 8th'
Choral bass 4 ′
trombone 16 ′


Tombs in Wawel Cathedral

The Wawel Cathedral is the burial place of the Polish monarchy and other important personalities.

In the church

The bones of the following members of the Polish royal families are buried in or below high tombs or altars of the Wawel Cathedral:

Royal crypts

Floor plan of the crypts under the cathedral: A – I royal crypts, J poet's crypt, K bishop's crypt.
Crypt of St. Leonhard
Crypt under the southern ambulatory
Sarcophagus of Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria Kaczyńska

Other members of the Polish royal families were buried in the interconnected and accessible rooms of the so-called royal crypts, which can be entered via the Czartoryski chapel . Some other Polish personalities have also found their final resting place in the royal crypts:

Crypt of St. Leonhard

Stephan Báthory's crypt

Ladislaus IV's crypt.

Crypt under the southern ambulatory

Crypt under the Sigismund Chapel

Crypt under the Wasa Chapel

Józef Piłsudski's crypt

Porch to the Piłsudski Crypt

Poets crypt

Poets crypt

Buried in the separately accessible poet's crypt are:

Bishop's crypt

Buried in the not publicly accessible bishop's crypt are u. a. the following bishops of the (arch) diocese of Krakow :


Web links

Commons : Wawel Cathedral  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jaroslaw Krawczyk: "On Poland and Poles"; Page 69; Bellona; Warszwa, 2004, ISBN 978-83-11-13546-8 .
  2. More information on Organy - Polskie Wirtualne Centrum Organowe (English).