The Basilica of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary

Rynek Główny, Kraków

Mariacki Square, where the model stands, is situated on the right (southern) side of the Gothic Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the site of the former church cemetery, which after a few centuries in this location was moved to the newly established municipal Rakowicki Cemetery for sanitary reasons at the end of the 18th century. The model does not include its situation vis-à-vis the church. Information in Braille is written on the frieze under the façade of the church crowned with two towers.

The church acquired its shape towards the end of the 14th century. Each of the lofty towers, unequal in height, is built on the plan of a square. Thanks to the stone cornices and lancet windows, the number of storeys in the towers is easy to count.

The taller of the towers, standing 81 m (265 ft) high, is octagonal in its upper part, and crowned with a Gothic spire decorated with a baroque crown. This tower, known as the Hejnalica, i.e. the Bugler's Tower, for centuries played the function of the city's watchtower. To a signal given by the guard, the city gates closed and opened. Today, the melody known as the Bugle Call of Kraków is played every full hour to the four corners of the world. The door used by the buglers is situated at the bottom of the tower, on its left-hand side. The height of the door is approximately that of an adult man.

The lower of the towers is 69 m (226 ft) high, and covered with a late Renaissance dome, topped with a sophisticated lantern. Situated in its four corners are smaller domes.

In the front of the church between the two towers is a baroque porch leading to the three-aisle interior of the church. Its main door opens for great ceremonies only. Situated over the porch is the figure of Christ the Saviour of the World and the huge lancet window with a stained-glass decoration designed by Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański. The congregation who come to pray are welcome to use the side (right) doors of the porch. Tourists use the door situated on the right hand of the church, behind the lower of the towers and the row of chapels: St Lazarus, St Valentine, and St John Nepomucene, appended from the south to the main body of the church. Set between the buttresses reinforcing the walls of the chancel are magnificently decorated ogival windows. The bottom section of the chancel is surrounded by a ring of smaller chapels.

Set as an angle to the axis of the Main Market Square, this brick church replaced an earlier Romanesque one, most probably destroyed in a Tatar raid in the 13th century. In its current form, it is a classical example of Gothic architecture, and one of the best-known hallmarks of Kraków. It attracts throngs of tourists, thanks not only to its exceptional architecture but also to the lavishly furnished interior, including among other things the late-Gothic altar of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, carved by Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoss).

The Basilica of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary (mp3)


Date: 2013-06-17 Show ticket
News author: Weronika Dulowska
News Publisher: Portal główny EN
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