St. Anne’s church is one of the biggest churches in Krakow. Its walls are filled with gilt, statues, paintings and more. Every day, people visit this magnificent place. The church, in its current form, is over 330 years old. Many famous people are buried in this church like kings and professors of the nearby university, Collegium Maius. Damaged or completely destroyed several times in the past 640 years, it has been rebuilt or renovated each time. The church is a fine example of the architectural style of baroque.
Before St. Anne’s church was originally built, it was mentioned in 1381 in the deed of donation by Sulislaw and Navoja of Grodziec. The church was to be built as an initiative of the professors of the university, Collegium Maius. In the early 15th century (1407) the first wooden church was ruined in a fire during an Anti-Jewish Riot due to its location in what was then the Jewish Ghetto of Krakow. Next, it was ordered to be rebuilt by King Władysław Jagiełło in brick. However, one of the founders, St. John of Canticus, said that the Gothic style church was too small for his liking. Later, in the late 17th-18th century, the church was rebuilt by a Dutchman named Tylman Van Dameran in a purely Baroque.
St Anne’s church has an impressive facade. Gargoyles are said to watch over the church to ward off unwanted “ghosts” or spirits, but in this case, the angels that pose outside of the church do their job. At the top of the church’s facade, there is a large pediment and there is a dome in the middle of the roof as well.
The exterior of St. Anne’s church is quite complicated due to all the statues and columns. They consist of composite columns and doric columns which are plain brown stone but are also highly detailed as it looks as if there are scrolls or leaves on top of them. The exterior also includes a broken pediment, which is quite plain but visible, in the centre of the building which is supported by four corinthian columns. At the top of the facade, in the tympanum there is an oculus with a triangle showing the Eye of Providence symbol inside.
The Eye of Providence, or gods eye, is plated with gold and shines brightly in the sun. St Anne’s church is made of white stone. The spires at both sides of the facade are made of copper which has tarnished over time, giving the spires a green tint.
In the 14th century the church was a wooden structure; people say this is why it was burnt down in the Anti-Jewish Riot in 1407.Three structures were built: the first was burnt down ; as you know because it was wood, the second (gothic) proved too small for the professor and now saint John of Canticus, and the third is the one we see today in grand Baroque.(who knows, there might be a fourth one!).
St. Anne’s Church is considered a beautiful example of mature Baroque style in Poland and is also one of the most decorative churches in Krakow. The interior of St. Anne’s church is very noteworthy and has many different features such as the gilt coated statues that cover the walls of the church. The ceiling is covered in painted angels that offer a sense of light and redemption. The beautiful nave is decorated with gilt and candles which make it glamorous and interesting. When you walk into the church a beautiful organ is seen placed on a balcony with lots of gilt surrounding it. Underneath the organ there is a picture of pope John Paul the second and below there is the coat of arms of Krakow. On both the left and right side of the church there are arches which have gilt leaves creeping up the side. The aisle is carpeted with red velvet. Candles glow in the evening masses as there is no lamps or electricity to light up the church.
There is a Legend that St John of Canticus, who was a very kind man, was seen to give his cloak to a cold beggar when he was on a walk; only to have it returned back to his wardrobe when he arrived home. Later, after he passed away, he became a saint, as the cloak being returned was considered a miracle. You can find a statue, in memory of him in the church.