Premonstratensian Church

The institution is a department:
Kościuszki 88, Kraków


The church of St Augustine and St John the Baptist and monastery were built for the Premonstratensian nuns as a foundation of the knight Jaksa Gryfita of Miechów, and was most probably consecrated by Bishop Gedko in 1181.

The church was built without a frontal façade and was amalgamated into the convent complex and given a defensive character: the walls with loopholes and fragments of defence towers are very obvious features. It was rebuilt in the 1250s after being totally destroyed in the Tatar (Mongol) raid of 1241. The late Romanesque portal of the doorway under the tower, one of few such items in Kraków, the remnants of the walls in the cellars, and fragments of the brick-arcaded frieze on the northern wall have all been preserved.

The church owes its baroque form to the Abbess Dorota Kątska, whose efforts led to it being rebuilt in the late  16th and early 17th centuries. The works were managed by Italian builders under the direction of the Royal architect Giovanni Trevano. Unfortunately, the Swedish army commanded by General Würtz burnt down the church and the convent together with the ancillary buildings shortly afterwards in 1657. As the besieged convent had given a brave defence before its capture, the vindictive general brought 200 miners from Wieliczka and made them take down the burnt walls. Luckily, the miners worked very slowly on purpose so that the buildings were saved until the moment when the Swedish army withdrew, and the reconstruction was already complete by 1665.

The interior of the church consists of a single nave under barrel and cross vaulting, and features uniform classicist decoration with stuccos from 1777-1779. The chancel is closed by a straight wall, and is decorated with a fresco portraying St John the Baptist (1876) by Władysław Łuszczkiewicz. Another element drawing your attention is the neo-classicist colonnade designed by Sebastian Sierakowski in 1777.

It is from here that since time immemorial the Lajkonik – Kraków’s traditional hobby-horse – leaves on the Octave of Corpus Christi to cavort around the city. One of the włóczkowie, the Vistula raftsmen, disguises himself in the trophy costume of the Mongol Khan to announce the victory over Tartars to the city of Kraków and its people. The entire spectacle, together with its rich setting and the deafening, pipe music by the band of the so-called mlaskoty, is one of the greatest features of Kraków. The duty of preserving and maintaining this uncommon and highly spectacular show used to be a job of the Archives for Ancient Files, but has been taken over by the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków. It is worth mentioning that both the trappings and garb of Lajkonik were produced in 1904 and designed by Stanisław Wyspiański himself.


Date: 2012-04-03 Show ticket
News author: OLGA SOLARZ
News Publisher: Redakcja MPI
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