The Wawel Cathedral of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus in Krakow has been the main cathedral of Poland for many years. It is located on the territory of the Wawel Castle. Monarchs have been crowned there for centuries. For several centuries it also served as a tomb for kings and famous people, so numerous chapels were added to the small Romanesque cathedral during this time.
Wawel Castle in the 10th century became the main residence of Polish kings. The Cathedral of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus was built next to it at the same time. Sometimes it is called Wawel Cathedral. The first cathedral on this site was built in the 11th century, but the building was partially destroyed. The Crypt of St. Leonard (11th century), which is the oldest part of the Cathedral of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus, has been preserved in the dungeon of the Wawel Cathedral to this day.
The most famous Polish kings, as well as political figures, are buried in the Crypt of St. Leonard. Among them is King Jan III Sebeski, who commanded the Polish army in the Battle of Vienna, when the Turkish troops were defeated and the expansion of the Turks into Europe was stopped forever. Jan Sobieski`s wife, Queen Casimira, is also buried here. Also in the Crypt are the crypts of Jozef Poniatowski, Todeusz Kosciuszko, Vladislav Sikorsky and others.
The main nave of the Wawel Cathedral was built in the 12th century and is a small Romanesque basilica made of white limestone. Subsequently, the cathedral was expanded many times. In the 14th century, the Cathedral of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus acquired its current form with three naves, but over the following centuries, chapels of buried kings continued to be attached to it.
As a result, on the sides of the cathedral you can see a pile of chapels of various architectural styles. The Chapel of King Sigismund I with a golden dome (1533) stands out from the outside. It was built in the Renaissance style by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Brecci.
The Sigismund Tower, built in the 14th century, rises above the facade of the Wawel Cathedral. There is the Sigismund Bell, named after the Polish King Sigismund I. The weight of the Sigismund bell is 12.6 tons. The bell was cast in 1521 and remained the largest bell in Poland until 2004. In 2004, the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin of Lihen was built, where a bell of 15 tons was installed.
From the 11th century for several centuries, Krakow was the only capital of the Polish state. All monarchs were crowned and buried in the Wawel Cathedral. From the 11th to the 16th century, 18 chapels were built here for monarchs and bishops. The silver tomb contains the relics of the Patron Saint of Poland, Bishop Stanislaus.
In 1596, after a fire in Wawel Castle, King Sigismund III moved the capital from Krakow to Warsaw. After that, many politicians and some kings began to be buried in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Warsaw, however, coronation ceremonies were still held in the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.