Wawel crypts, heroes of the fight for Polish independence

Wawel 5, Kraków



For many centuries, Wawel Cathedral was the place of coronation and burial of Polish kings. After Poland lost its independence in 1795, the cathedral church became the national sanctuary and a symbol of the former grandeur and glory of Poland. It was then that the first Polish heroes were buried in the crypts of Wawel Cathedral, to emphasise and commemorate their special service to the nation. The symbolic significance of the cathedral was especially augmented by two funerals: that of Prince Józef Poniatowski, Polish general, and participant in the Kościuszko Uprising and Napoleonic wars, and that of Kościuszko himself: the commander of the uprising of 1794 and a hero of the fight for US independence. The two ceremonies, held in 1817 and 1818 respectively, attracted throngs of Poles to Kraków from all three partitions. Both Poniatowski and Kościuszko found their resting place in the Crypt of St Leonard.

In turn, the sarcophagus of Józef Piłsudski, the creator of the legions and the first Marshal of Poland, stands in the crypt under the Silver Bells Tower. After Piłsudski’s death in Warsaw in 1935, his body was taken to Kraków by rail, and his coffin was later escorted along the Royal Route to Wawel in a stately funeral cortege. Piłsudski was buried after Poland had regained its independence, so his funeral became an opportunity for a patriotic manifestation of national unity.

Tickets PLN 14/8

Opening times:
02 January - 31 March
Mon-Sat 9:00-16:00, Sun 12:30-16:00
01 April - 31 October
Mon-Sat 9:00-17:00, Sun 12:30-17:00
01 November - 31 December
Mon-Sat 9:00-16:00, Sun 12:30-16:00
Wawel 5, Kraków
+48 572 293 828
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