Other trips

Other trips can be accessed by clicking the following links:

Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Mongolia, China, Thailand, Cambodia and South Korea

Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Copenhagen

Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, India and England

Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Ethiopia, Kenya, S. Africa, Zimbabwe, UAE and Denmark

Panama, Colombia, Ecuador (Including Gallapagos), Peru, Bolivia, Chile (Including Easter Island), Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico

Monday, August 25, 2014

Krakow's Eye Popping St. Mary's Church

If you ever can, do yourself a favor and come to Krakow if only to visit Mariacki or St. Mary’s, for us one of the most beautiful churches in the world. It overlooks the NE corner of the huge Old Town Square; formally titled the Basilica of the Assumption of our Lady, the façade is dominated by 2 towers of different heights: the lower one serves as a bell tower and holds 5 bells; the taller one has traditionally been the city’s property and functioned as a watchtower. It’s topped with a gilded ball; we heard the hejnal or bugle call sounded hourly from the tower.

We were incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time when we happened to buy tickets shortly after 11 for the 11:30 tourists’ entrance opening.  There are magnificent stained glass windows dating from the late 14th C.  As the guidebook says, the blue star vaulting the nave is breathtaking; the colorful paintings harmonize beautifully with the medieval architecture and are an appropriate background for the high altar which has been acclaimed as the greatest masterpiece of Gothic art. Pablo Picasso no less allegedly designated it as the 8th wonder of the world.

You've got to know by now I love ceiling shots!

Context: A partial view of the altar.

There were probably a dozen or so
 panels of size on each side before the altat itself.

Below each of the huge panels above left were 
all these gorgeous paintings.

The Crown Jewel of the church in our opinion was the altarpiece which is a pentaptych (an altarpiece consisting of a central panel and 2 pairs of side wings) carved out of limewood, then painted and gilded. The main scene, visible when the pentatypchbeginning to open daily at 11:50, represents the Assumption of the Virgin surrounded by the Apostles. The outside has 12 sections portraying scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin. The altarpiece is topped with the Coronation of the Virgin in Heaven and, on both sides, the statues of the patron saints of Poland.
Full view of the altar with the closed pentatypch.
We didn't know that it was about to be opened
until we heard tour guides describing it as I was
taking these photos. Once again, I cannot believe how
fortunate we were there to witness
the opening which took perhaps a minute or two max. 

Not a sight to be missed if you can.
The following shots reveal the opening from
beginning to end. I hope you get a sense of the pentatypch's
beauty and magnifence.