Discover the many legends that surround this Gothic church and see the stunning 15th-century altarpiece in its colorful interior.
St. Mary’s Basilica is known for its altarpiece depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary. Let the trumpet that calls every hour from the top of St. Mary’s Basilica lure you across Krakow’s main market square to the doors of the basilica. Many legends surround this building. Study the intricately carved scenes on the wooden altarpiece before climbing the tower for one of the best views of the city.
The church that you see today was built in the 14th century. The towers were added in the 15th century. The church looms tall over the market square. At 262 feet (80 meters) high, it is one of the most prominent features of the city’s skyline.
Step inside to be greeted by the deep blue and red tones of the walls, an immense starred ceiling and eye-catching stained-glass windows. The altar is the centerpiece of the basilica, with more than 200 figures carved into its face. The altar took artist Veit Stoss more than 12 years to complete. It is revered as one of the most spectacular altarpieces in Europe.
Listen on the hour and you’ll hear the famous trumpet call from the top of the tower. Notice how it stops in the middle of the tune. This is to commemorate the musician who alerted the city to the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, but was shot in the throat for his actions. Inside the tower you can see the knife used by one of the tower’s builders to kill his brother and then himself. Climb the 239 steps to the top of the tower for views across the city.
St. Mary’s Basilica is located on the northeast corner of the Main Market Square in central Krakow. It’s within walking distance of many of the city’s main attractions. The basilica is open daily, with shorter hours on Sundays. There is a small charge for entry.