on August 3, 2006
The Cathedral of St. Stanislaw was built between 1320 and 1364, on the site of two earlier churches, however, over the years various additions mean that the cathedral retains elements of Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque and Renaissance architecture and style.Before entering the cathedral walk across to the far side of Wawel Hill from where the view of the building, with its spires, towers and domes has a fairytale aspect. Move closer and the external decoration shows status and ornamental guttering. Just outside the entrance hang the bones of a "ancient creature" which if they fall, according to legend, will presage the end of the world.Inside the cathedral is quite small and intimate, the side chapels are beautifully decorated, especially the detailed Zygmunt Chapel. The choir stalls are intricately carved as is the Tomb of Kazimierz, created by Veit Stoss who also sculptured and carved the high alter in St. Mary’s Church, Krakow. The impressive reliquary containing relics of St. Stainslaw is also beautifully worked in silver.Even after the capital had been moved to Warsaw Polish King’s continued to be crowned, and interred, in the cathedral. Amonst these are the Baroque styled tombs of Jan III Sobieski and his wife and the tomb of King Jan Olbracht which sits in an arch modelled on al Roman theme.It is possible to walk up one of the towers to see the Zygmunt Bell, weighing 11 tonnes, the largest bell in Poland. However the route up the towers involves climbing steep wooden staircases and, at times, bending below head height so it may not be suitable for all.The cathedral is an extremely attractive building, both inside and out, and its size makes it very accessible, giving it a private but embracing feel.
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