Collegium Maius is the oldest building in the Jagiellonian University, this university is in Krakow. It is called the “Great College” in Latin. The college was founded by King Casimir the Great in 1364 and people can still study there today. One of the most famous astronomers and mathematicians, Nicolaus Copernicus, studied at Collegium Maius four hundred years ago.

History

Although Collegium Maius was founded in 1364, it was only a thought around then. In the 14th century all of the houses around where the college was getting constructed they turned into the college. The oldest sculpture in the college that was made out of marble which was constructed in 1340 it was called ‘Teaching a Professor’. King Casimir the Great shortly put that thought to reality and it was built around the year 1400. Nicolaus Copernicus studied at Collegium Maius for 4 years from 1491 to 1495. After a damaging fire in 1492, the houses were rebuilt. It was moved into the college when it was built.  The building grew bigger in the 1500s when they built houses next to it, which served as living quarters for many professors of the university.  He called it the “Nürnberg Terrestrial Globe”, but it is now known as the Erdapfel. The famous well in the middle of the courtyard was built in 1517. Unfortunately, Nicolaus died at the age of 70 because of a stroke on May 24th, 1543. It was a very gothic style from 1840 to 1870. Under the clock (Learn more below) in the courtyard, there is a small open space in the wall, and every hour small figures appear and start circling in and out of the space while music plays. The melody was composed by Jan z Lublina or Joannis de Lublin.  After a while, they started to think of having a museum called the “Jagiellonian Museum”. In the museum, you can find the first terrestrial globe ever made, which was built by Martin Behaim. In the year 1900, they finished the Nicolaus Copernicus statue right outside of the college. In 1947, the old archaeological cabinet turned into the Jagiellonian Museum. The two founders of Collegium Maius are Casimir the great and Queen Jadwiga. The fountain was treated as a gift back when the college was active because it was normal for people to drink from public fountains. His Brother, Andrew (Andreas) also studied at Collegium Maius for a little while. The college thought of giving some old university materials to a shelter. The professors lived and also did their work upstairs, and they lectured/taught downstairs.

Exterior Architecture

The building is made of brick and stone which is the Gothic Style modeled after many Italian colleges, built in the same style. The fountain was made of marble. On the facade of the building, they have a gothic gable. On the eastern facade of the college, there are a lot of blind arches. In the 20th century, they started to replace the late gothic style and started using plain bricks to rebuild it.

Interior Architecture

In the courtyard, they have a lot of arch arcades. On the first floor, the hallway will lead you to a decorative library and a late gothic door. The professors lived on the first and second floors, which are now used for libraries, offices and other study rooms. There is a late gothic portal that leads into the courtyard. All over the college, there are a lot of wall paintings. Above the courtyard of Collegium Maius, there are gargoyles that look down. On the balcony, there are balustrades and entablatures. If you go through the entrance in Collegium Maius it will lead you to the courtyard. If you go upstairs on to the balcony and go to the side facing the entrance you will see a blind arch under the staircase. On the well you can see many carvings on the sides of the well like an entablature.    

The Clock

The first clock was installed in 1465, and destroyed in the great fire of 1492. The second clock was funded by Queen Elizabeth of Habsburg and was running for a couple of decades. Then the third clock was installed in 1522, but no one knows where it went. The clock that is at Collegium Maius now was installed on September 11, 2000, and is now run by a computer. The clock goes on from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm and it plays every 2 hours in between those two times. The figures in the clock are Queen Jadwiga, King Wladyslaw, Jan of Kely, Hugo Kollataj, and Stanislaw of Skarbimierz.

The facade of Collegium Maius
The courtyard of Collegium Maius

Resources

Collegium Maius in Krakow . (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2019, from http://krakow-info.com/maius.htm

Kraków – Collegium Maius. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://medievalheritage.eu/en/main-page/heritage/poland/krakow-collegium-maius/
 
Muzeum Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego Collegium Maius. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://maius.uj.edu.pl/muzeum/historia
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