Church of St. Andrew was built in the years 1079-1098 from the Sieciech foundation, the palatine of prince Władysław Herman. It was the main temple of the settlement of Okół located in the southern part of today’s Old Town in Kraków and being a outer bailey of the Wawel hillfort. According to the chronicler Jan Długosz, the population of Okół was protected here against the Mongols in 1241. In 1243 prince Konrad Mazowiecki, during the battles for the Kraków throne, surrounded the church with a moat and a rampart. It was rebuilt at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, possibly after the second invasion of the Mongols in 1260, which made a partial destruction of the temple. In 1320, the church received the Poor Clares, for which the monastery buildings were built at the foundation of king Władysław Łokietek. In later centuries, the church fell victim to fires several times, but it did not cause major changes in the external appearance, except adding baroque tower helmets and the portal from the north. Unfortunately in the 18th century, the interior was transformed into a baroque.
Romanesque church of St. Andrews is a defensive building, a two-tower basilica, composed of a short, single-span, three-nave corpus, a transept and a presbytery enclosed by an apse. The wall thickness of 1,6 meters and the lack of lower windows, instead of which there are narrow arrowslits are evidences of defensive character. The west façade was crowned with two, at the base quadrangular, above octagonal, towers with bifora and with one triforium. The elevation of the church is decorated with an arcaded frieze, one of the oldest in Poland.
The gothic chapel from the fourteenth century, adjacent to the presbytery, contrasts with the romanesque figure. Its construction caused the destruction of a small apse at the northern transept.
The church is an excellent example of the phenomenon of reduction, consisting in the preservation of all significant architectural elements, while reducing the scale and length of the naves. In the church of St. Andrew’s naves have only one span, so it is the absolute minimum.
Jarzewicz J., Kościoły romańskie w Polsce, Kraków 2014.
Krasnowolski B., Leksykon zabytków architektury Małopolski, Warszawa 2013.
Sztuka polska przedromańska i romańska do schyłku XIII wieku, red. M. Walicki, Warszawa 1971.
Website wikipedia.org, Kościół św. Andrzeja w Krakowie.