The Franciscans settled in Kraków in 1237 and already in 1249 a provincial chapter was held in the monastery. The original church was one of the first brick buildings in the city of Kraków. In 1277 Franciscans obtained from duchess Kinga a new area, which allowed for further expansion, carried out up to the fifteenth century. The extended church was consecrated again in 1436 by cardinal Zbigniew Oleśnicki. Unfortunately, the following years brought many disasters. In 1462, the church was consumed by a fire, in 1465 the tower collapsed, and in 1476 another fire occurred. In 1563, before entering the church from the exit of Bracka street, tower was erected. It was a large building, quite high, made of stone and brick. In 1655 the church was burned again. It was reconstructed by dividing the interior into a nave and a chapel formed from aisle. The interiors have been decorated with a baroque style. The last, most devastating fire consumed the monastery in 1850.
The original monastery church was most probably built on the plan of an isosceles cross with a tower at the intersection of naves. Perhaps it was an architectural borrowing from Italy, or perhaps this shape was derived from late antique and early Christian martyrs and mausoleums, because the prince Bolesław the Chaste and his sister Salomea were buried in the church.
Around 1260-1270 a sacristy was added to the church, and around 1300 the church’s corpus was rebuilt into an asymmetrical, elongated two naves. The second nave was built on the north side and had the same length as the main nave, but it was narrower. Perhaps this was the attempt to create a double monastery for Franciscans and Poor Clares, but eventually the nuns around 1320 gained their own separate buildings. In the first half of the fifteenth century, the presbytery was extended by two bays to the east and closed with a three-sided apse.
At the beginning of the 15th century, monastery cloisters were built, which connected the older monastery buildings. Three arms of the cloisters were covered with rib vaults, and the eastern part was covered with a net vault and stellar vault in the northern bay. The earliest, in the thirteenth century, the west range was created with a refectory. In the 14th and 15th centuries, southern and eastern wings were created.
Although the Franciscan convent was destroyed by fires and rebuilt many times to our times, it has preserved in its gothic and partly neo-gothic form. In the monastery cloisters survived the gothic frescoes, and the gallery of Cracow bishops painted in the 15th century.
Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. T. Mroczko i M. Arszyński, Warszawa 1995.
Krasnowolski B., Leksykon zabytków architektury Małopolski, Warszawa 2013.
Walczak M., Kościoły gotyckie w Polsce, Kraków 2015.
Website wikipedia.org, Bazylika św. Franciszka z Asyżu w Krakowie.