Stand beneath the golden dome of the Sigismund Chapel (Kaplica Zygmuntowska) in Wawel Cathedral. The paintings, stuccos and sculptures around you are some of the finest works of Renaissance art in Europe. Investigate the cathedral’s other chapels to view the ornate tombs of almost all of Poland’s past monarchs, and then climb the bell tower to touch the famous Sigismund Bell.
The Roman Catholic Wawel Cathedral dates back to 1364. It is the most important religious building in Poland. It’s the coronation site of numerous Polish monarchs and the place where all but four of Poland’s 45 previous rulers are buried.
Just inside the entrance, look for the striking red marble sarcophagus of King Vladislav II. Continue on to see further tombs sculpted from white marble, sandstone and precious metals.
Explore the different chapels to discover fine examples of art from the Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance periods. Don’t miss the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which has preserved stained-glass windows and Russian murals from the 15th century. In the Sigismund Chapel you can observe works by prominent artists of the Renaissance period, including Georg Pencz, Santi Gucci and Hermann Vischer.
Visit the silver tomb of St. Stanislaus, which rests beneath a black marble canopy in the cathedral’s main altar. The walls around the tomb are decorated with reliefs depicting scenes from his life and his posthumous miracles.
Make your way up the belfry to see the Sigismund Bell. The huge bell dates back to 1520 and is only rung for important state celebrations. While you’re unlikely to hear it ring, you can reach out to touch the bell if you wish.
The Wawel Cathedral is located within the grounds of Wawel Castle. It’s an easy walk south from Krakow’s Old Town (Stare Miasto), and is also served by bus and tram. The cathedral is free to enter and open daily, with shorter hours on Sundays. It is closed on public holidays and on state occasions. There is a small charge to enter the museum, bell and tombs.