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    St Mary’s Church

    Over 800 years of history, an altar by Veit Stoss (Wit Stwosz), a bugle call, the starry polychrome of the vault by Jan Matejko. And all this in one church in the center of Krakow!

    The body of the church, which we can still admire today, comes from the second half of the 14th century. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the church was surrounded by side chapels and in the middle of the 18th century, a porch was added to the main entrance designed by Francesco Placidi, a Roman architect and sculptor considered to be the greatest artist of the late Baroque.

     

    There are also two towers. The taller north tower is 82 m high and is also called the Bugle Call Tower or the Excubiarum Watchtower.

     

    Since the late Middle Ages, a watchman has kept watch day and night, looking out for fires, enemies approaching Krakow, and other dangers. His duties also included playing the bugle call on a trumpet, initially only at dawn and at dusk, as a signal to open and close the city gates, and since the 16th century – every hour. 

     

    The bugle call has become a musical symbol of Kraków and is still sounded today: it is played in four directions of the world at full hour around the clock. But why does his melody suddenly stop? Legend tells of a guard who started playing the alarm when he saw the Tartar hordes approaching. He managed to warn the city of the attack, but in half a bar his throat was pierced by a Tartar arrow. That is why the melody of the bugle call ends so abruptly.

     

    The second, lower tower (69 m) houses a set of five bells, the oldest of them dates from the 15th century. 

     

    However, the most important and valuable monument of St Mary’s Church is the main altar, the masterpiece of Veit Stoss (Wit Stwosz), the greatest sculptural achievement of the late Middle Ages. The years 1477–1489 brought the main altar to the temple. It is considered a late Gothic masterpiece. Its structure is made of oak and limewood is 13 meters high and 11 meters wide (36 ft x 43 ft).

     

    Also noteworthy is the 19th-century polychromy of the church – the work of master Jan Matejko (his idea was, among other things, the starry vault) and his students, including Stanisław Wyspiański and Józef Mehoffer, eminent artists of the Young Poland movement, who also designed the stained-glass window in the western wall.

     

    For more information visit the websites of the St Mary’s Church or Kraków.Travel.

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