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The Church of St. Adalbert

30 min Mariacki Square, Kraków, 31-042

Information

The Church of St. Adalbert in Krakow is the oldest church in the city. It was founded about the 11th century and replaced the previous one made of timber. The tradition says that St. Adalbert, the bishop of Prague and a martyred missionary, spoke to Krakow residents standing just in the place of the present temple.
Today, the Church of St. Adalbert’s in Krakow is still opened to the public. The sacraments and services are held here both on Sunday and on weekdays, and between them the facility is opened to tourists.

The Church of St. Adalbert in Krakow

Krakow amazes visitors in very different aspects. It might be the atmosphere of the city with its unique cuisine reflecting the particular periods of the city’s history or people living here from generations and warmly welcoming travelers coming to Krakow even for a short while. Walking through the city center, they pass the small white church standing in the corner of the Main Square and usually do not focus on it. However, this building begins the history of Krakow and everyone definitely needs to stop by it and get to know it. It’s called The Church of St. Adalbert in Krakow and here is its story.

The history of St. Adalbert’s church in Krakow

The Church of St. Adalbert in Krakow is the oldest church in the city. It was founded about the 11th century and replaced the previous one made of timber. The tradition says that St. Adalbert, the bishop of Prague and a martyred missionary, spoke to Krakow residents standing just in the place of the present temple. The church was constructed to commemorate that exact moment. In the 14th century, the church was operating as the university temple, being protected by professors of Almae Matris.

The 14th century brought the rebuilding of the church in Baroque style, what changed its shape and appearance. The chancel was covered with the green dome which made this small building recognizable from afar. The dome was damaged while the Austrian Army fired the Main Square but after the minor renovation it still covers the edifice.

What happened to the square throughout centuries?

The Church of St. Adalbert in Krakow is a great example of changes, which were performed on the Main Square throughout centuries. Today the market’s level is placed higher than it was in the Middle Ages. It can be proved by the floor in the church which is situated under the present level of the square, which reflects the overlaying of the surfaces of the plaza. The layer was full of stones, rocks and trash. Today the walls of the church are unearthed to show their lowest level.

The crypt of the church as well as the line of the walls were adapted by the Archeological Museum as a small museum of history. In order to enter that place, the visitors pass the Romanesque portal which was discovered when the church was undergoing the conservation treatment. It gave a great example of early medieval church with iconic architectural details and forms.

 

St. Adalbert – who was he?

St. Adalbert of Prague was a Bohemian missionary working among the Hungarians, Poles and Prussians. He was killed due to his efforts to convert the Baltic Prussians to Christianity. The saint was buried in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

St. Adalbert was noted for his charity and austerity. After six years of intensive prayer, he started evangelizing the Bohemians who were still keeping pagan beliefs. He opposed polygamy and idolatry and proposed religious reforms. The bishop traveled a lot to Hungary as well as to Poland and, as a result, he became a Bishop of Gniezno.

Also, St. Adalbert set out as a missionary to preach to the inhabitants near Prussia. He entered their territory with his army and traveled along the coastline of the Baltic Sea.

At first the bishop successfully christianized Prussians but his imperious manner in persuading people to abandon paganism irritated them. It resulted in his death. His relics were placed in Polish cathedral in Gniezno making this church the place of first Polish royal coronations. He was canonized in the 10th century and became the main Polish patron.

 

Present days of St. Adalbert’s church in Krakow

 

Today, the Church of St. Adalbert’s in Krakow is still opened to the public. The sacraments and services are held here both on Sunday and on weekdays, and between them the facility is opened to tourists. Visitors can admire the historic altar and sculptures, as well as beautifully decorated cornices and historic organs from the first half of the 18th century.

St. Adalbert’s church is definitely an interesting point on the map of Krakow and a place worth visiting while exploring the city. ITS Poland (https://its-poland.com/) encourages you to inc lude it in your tour plan.

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