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Legends Of Kraków: St. Mary's Church - The 2 Brothers

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dearest hearts,

Today I want to tell you one of the very first legends that I have heard about Krakow. It's related to one of Kraków's well known landmarks: Saint Mary's Church, or how the locals call it - Kosciol Mariacki. It is not the oldest church in Kraków, unlike many people think, nor the most important one - that would be the Wawel Cathedral on top of the Wawel Castle Hill, but it is probably the most well known church in Kraków (maybe even Poland). It is located on the Royal Route - from the Barbakan to the Wawel Castle - on the end of the Florianska street, right as you enter the Main Market Square - the biggest main square in Europe, by the way ;) It's hard to miss the Mariacki Kosciol as it's the biggest and most imposing church in Kraków, visible on all Polish postcards, magnets and other souvenir items.
The Mariacki Kosciol is one of a kind, with its interior painted by the famous Polish painter Jan Matejko. My favorite part of the church is the ceiling, painted to resemble the evening sky: beautiful blue with small yellow stars... Jan Matejko trained his hand on doing the night sky with stars in his daughters bedroom - you can also visit that on the Florianska street, the Jan Matejko Museum, part of the National Museum of Kraków. When there is a sunny day and the light fills the church, there is nothing more beautiful to behold :) Inside you can also admire the old altar carved in wood, made by Veit Stoss (Polish: Ołtarz Wita Stwosza, German: Krakauer Hochaltar), also named St. Mary's Altar (Ołtarz Mariacki). It is the largest Gothic altarpiece in the World and a national treasure of Poland. It was taken down and broke to pieces by the Nazis when they took over Kraków but now it's been brought back and reconditioned.
View over the Main Market Square and the Mariacki Church from the balcony of Cafe Szal
Fish Eye Lens view of the Main Square: Mariacki Church, Sukienicce and the Tower Hall
Today's "Legends of Kraków" though,  does not focus on any of the interior pieces in St. Mary's Church. As you look at the church, from the front, you can clearly see that the 2 main towers are not the same height and that they have similar but not quite the same style. They were both constructed at the same time, yet they are not the same... what's up with that? I thought that churches should have symmetry and be all about perfection... how come St. Mary is different? Under the reign of King Boleslaus the Modest (Bolesław Wstydliwy, 1243-1279) a decision was made to add two towers to the body of the church standing by the Main Market Square. Soon two brothers embarked on the task. Well... the legends says that the 2 Brothers, 2 princes were stubborn and got into a huge fight, so each of them started building a tower for the front of the church. One of them is shorter than the other so it's quite obvious what happened next: one of the brothers got jeleaus and killed the other one, in order for his side to be bigger and better. However, the murderer brother was wracked with remorse: on the day when the church was to be consecrated, he pierced his heart with the same knife he used to kill his brother, and dropped dead from the top of his tower to the ground below. This legend gets me thinking about the story of Cain and Abel, and their offerings to God. Does it not sound similar? :) What do you think... is it a legend or the truth?

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Legends