The Holy Cross Church is a Roman Catholic church located on Świętego Krzyża street. Part of the original Holy Cross Church was built from the extra stones that remained from building the city’s defensive walls. In the past, the church was used as a guardhouse for the guards who patrolled those neighboring city walls. Now, the church is most famous for its Gothic architecture details and the vaulted ceiling in the chancel.

History

The Holy Cross church began being built around 1300, in place of a wooden church from the 12th century. The church was continuously renovated and updated for many years, changing in appearance and use. In the 14th century, a brick nave was added. Then in 1528, the interior of the church was badly damaged due to a fire and the famous vault fell, but it was quickly rebuilt by 1533. Then, in 1684, Bishop Andrzej Trzebinski restored the church and raised the tower from the south chapel of St. Sophia. In addition, the chapels of St. Andrew and Our Lady of Loreto were built and added on to the existing building. Lastly, in the late 19th century, a total renovation took place, updating the church inside and out.  The church was founded in 1200 by Bishop Pełka.

Architecture

The church was originally surrounded by a cemetery and connected to the Hospital of the Holy Spirit. At first, the church was used as the hospital’s chapel. The church has also been used as a guard house for the city’s defensive walls, and as a monastery. Now, the church is just a place of worship and stands on its own.

The Holy Cross church is located near the Słowacki Theater on Świętego Krzyża street. Located in the nave, is what the Holy Cross Church is best known for: the beautiful vaulted ceiling from 1530 that creates a theme of stars. Above the west facade, supporting a gothic building is a tower. It has 11 small windows, and 2 blind arches on each of its sides. On the bottom of the tower is a gothic pointed arch entryway.  This is below the current ground level, showing how old the church really is. A long time ago people would throw trash on the ground, and eventually, the amount of trash forced the citizens of Krakow to cover it with dirt, hay and similar things, to make it easier to walk. Over time the ground level rose, leaving the oldest buildings, like the Holy Cross Church, to stand below ground level. Behind the old tower, there are two other sections of the church. They are both structures with a pitched roof and a gable. Together, the two structures and the tower are lined up, making the church about 40 meters in length. But the church isn’t only very long, it is also very high, thanks to the massive buttresses that support the structure, letting the church be built higher than it could have ever been without them.

This pointed arch is a characteristic Gothic entryway
The small cemetery outside of the church
The inside is covered in decorations of golden patterns, white flowers, and chandeliers
The vaulted ceiling has a pattern of red and blue flowers that grow on swirly golden stems
The aisle is lined with 2 rows of wooden benches, each of them decorated with white flowers

Resources

Church Of The Holy Cross. (n.d.). Retrieved June 4, 2019, from http://www.krakow.pl/english/6296,artykul,church_of_the_holy_cross_.html

Holy Cross Church. (n.d.). Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.inyourpocket.com/krakow/holy-cross-church_17120v
 
Kraków – Holy Cross church. (n.d.). Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://medievalheritage.eu/en/main-page/heritage/poland/krakow-holy-cross-church/
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