Kraków – Holy Cross Church


   Church of the Holy Cross in its present shape began to be erected at the beginning of the fourteenth century, probably on the site of a timber church from the twelfth / thirteenth century, as already in 1244 a local priest named Thomas was mentioned, and bishop Prandota gave the church of Holy Cross Cross to the monks from Order of the Holy Ghost from Prądnik and entrusted them running the parish.
   The stone that was left after the city walls were erected was used to build the church. The first chancel was built, erected until the 30s of the fourteenth century, the brick nave was completed in the third quarter of the 14th century, and its vaults were founded at the end of that century. In the first half of the fifteenth century, the tower was added, or actually was raised, and from the south side a chapel of St. Sophia was built. In the 16th century, the chapels of St. Andrew and Our Lady of Loreto were added to the tower.
   In 1528 the interior of the church burned down, as a result of which the vaults were damaged, which, however, were rebuilt by the third quarter of the 16th century. In the following centuries the church of the Holy Cross did not undergo any major modifications. At the end of the 19th century its thorough renovation took place.


   The church was built in the northeastern part of the medieval town, close to its defensive walls. Originally, it was surrounded by a parish cemetery and was connected to the no-longer existing monastery and hospital buildings as well as the church and the Holy Spirit hospital.
   Orientated towards the sides of the world world, the church of Holy Cross received a square, stone, and above two meters brick nave, and a narrower and lower, rectangular, stone chancel. A four-sided, six-storey tower with a porch in the ground floor was attached to the nave from the west, to which two chapels were added from the north and south in the 16th century. A chapel of St. Sophia was built to the nave from the south in 1442, and a long sacristy was added to the northern wall of the chancel. Outside, the church was surrounded with buttresses and surrounded with a cornice. The windows were mostly pierced in the ogival form with tracery, while the brick gable of the presbytery from the east was decorated with ogival blendes.
   Communication was provided by three stone portals: the first, ogival from a tower’s porch to the nave from the second half of the fourteenth century, with doors with Gothic fittings from around 1400, the second late Gothic, dating from the end of the fifteenth century, from the nave to the choir, with pointed arch and closed with a trefoil, and the third, rectangular from the presbytery to the sacristy from the sixteenth century.
   Inside the three-support vault of the nave was supported by one, squared round pillar. It is worth noting that its core has been given a form compatible with the canons of ancient architecture, because it has a distinct enthasis, i.e. convexity, bulge of the column, which creates a combination with the moulding of the plinth and the arrangement of the vaults. Its twelve ribs radiate without corbels, forming the motif of a big star, with eight of them descending on the walls on the axes of the buttresses, and four, running towards the corners, bifurcate, forming a three-supporting bays. On the walls, supporting of the ribs were given to long cylindrical wall shafts and, rebuilt after 1528 to prominent corbels. The late-Gothic net vault in the presbytery was founded in 1530 and covered with polychrome with floral motifs. The coats of arms of the Kingdom of Poland, Sforza and Boners were created on it.

Current state

   The church of Holy Cross is the only Gothic hall temple that has survived to this day in Kraków, and it stands out from other Kraków sacral buildings with its Gothic style purity and is famous for its beautiful vault in the nave, partly reconstructed after the fire of 1528. In the chapel of St. Sophia is a unique late Renaissance confessional from the end of the 16th century, one of the oldest survived in Kraków.

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Goras M., Zaginione gotyckie kościoły Krakowa, Kraków 2003.

Krasnowolski B., Leksykon zabytków architektury Małopolski, Warszawa 2013.