The Mariacka Church is one of the largest and most beautiful cathedrals in Krakow. The cathedral combines features of different architectural styles from Gothic to Modern. Officially, it is called the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary. It is one of the minor basilicas of the Roman Catholic Church.
For a long time there was a wooden church on this place. In 1221, a stone Mariacka Church in the Romanesque style was built on the Main Market Square. But 20 years later, in 1241, the Western campaign of the Mongol-Tatar troops took place. Three years earlier, the Mongol troops captured most of the cities of Kievan Rus: Kiev, Vladimir, Suzdal and others. On March 22, 1241, the Mongols occupied Krakow and plundered it. The Mariacka Church was destroyed.
In 1290, the inhabitants of Krakow began to restore the Mariacka Church on the same foundation. The work was completed in 1320, when Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral was consecrated again. The new Mariacka Church was built in an era when the Romanesque style of architecture was already replaced by Gothic, but elements of both Romanesque and Gothic style are visible in the Mariacka Church. Over the next two centuries, the cathedral was completed.
Two towers of different heights rise above the facade of the Mariacka Church. The tall tower (82 meters) is called the Heinalice. The height of the low tower is 54 meters. From a high tower, the signal Heinal sounds every hour, which is one of the symbols of Poland.
According to legend, a trumpeter on the high tower of the Mariacka Church saw the approach of the Mongol cavalry in 1241. He managed to sound the signal Heinal and warn the residents of Krakow. However, he fell pierced in the throat by an arrow of a Mongolian archer. Since then, Signal Heinal has been played in Krakow every day. His melody ends on the note when the trumpeter was pierced in the throat by an arrow of a Mongolian archer.
Be sure to go inside the Mariacka Church. Over the centuries, its interior has changed many times. In the 17th and 18th centuries, some elements of Baroque and Art Nouveau style appeared in the Mariacka Church, but during the restoration of 1887, the interior of the Mariacka Church again acquired Neo-Gothic features.
A real masterpiece of late Gothic in the Mariacka Church is the Large Altar of Vitus Stvosh. A native of Nuremberg, Vit Stvosh came to Krakow in 1477. The altar is carved from linden and measures 13 meters high and 11 meters wide. The three-dimensional figures of the biblical characters are carved out of wood very skillfully.