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Basilica of St. Mary (Bazylika Mariacka)

7 plac Mariacki
+48 12 422 05 21
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St. Mary's Basilica Kraków  Poland
The Interrupted Bugle Call (Hejnal Mariacki) Kraków  Poland
Stumbling Into St. Mary Kraków  Poland
St. Mary's Basilica Kraków  Poland
The Interrupted Bugle Call (Hejnal Mariacki) Kraków  Poland
Stumbling Into St. Mary Kraków  Poland

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Sun 2pm - 6pm
Mon - Sat 11:30am - 6pm

St. Mary's Basilica

St. Mary's Basilica is Krakow's most iconic church, occupying a prominent spot in the northeast corner of the main square. The main structure dates back to the 14th century and its two towers are distinctly asymmetrical, with one doubling up as watchtower during the church's early years. The interior of the church is magnificent throughout, but the highlight is the 15th-century wooden altar carved by German artist Veit Stoss. Entry to the main part of the church is free but it's worth buying the separate ticket required to see the intricate beauty of the altar up close. On a weekday try to visit just before noon when the wooden doors of the altar are opened.

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AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

The Interrupted Bugle Call (Hejnal Mariacki)

Every hour on the hour the sound of the hejnal mariacki, a drawn-out bugle call, is played from the tower of St. Mary's Basilica and drifts across the rooftops of central Krakow. After around a minute the music of the bugle is interrupted mid-note, just as it has been for hundreds of years, in honor of the bugler who, in the 13th century, used his instrument to alert the city's inhabitants of an imminent Mongol invasion. A well-aimed arrow to the throat prevented him from finishing his warning tune and his unfinished melody is played four times in quick succession by a proud cohort of buglers, some of whom come from a long line of family members to have performed this Krakow tradition.

Stumbling Into St. Mary

We were wandering through Krakow in the late afternoon, exploring random streets and alleys around the main market square. We noticed a door on the side of a stone building that people were coming in and out of … they had the distinctive look of tourists. We decided to see for ourselves what was inside. Imagine walking through a nondescript door on a side street and being met with this. We had inadvertently entered St. Mary’s Cathedral, the cathedral that towers over the market square, which we hadn’t yet taken time to see. Our jaws literally went slack, leaving our mouths to gape open. It was one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes plotting your steps through a guidebook is over-rated ... it leaves no room for surprise.