Krakow

Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  ul. Karmelicka 19 ,   Old Town          (+48) 12 632 67 52     more than a year ago
According to legend the first iteration of this large church just one block from the Planty was founded back in the 11th century by Władysław I Herman, Duke of Poland, who was miraculously cured of a nasty case of cold sores at this very spot. As the story goes, the Virgin Mary came to the malady-stricken royal in a dream, instructing him to go to the city's marshy outskirts and find a dry place where violets bloom out of the sand; easy enough, apparently, as he did as told, then rubbed the flowers on his face until - presto! - the sores and boils vanished. This joyous occasion warranted a new place of worship, which has alternatively been known throughout history and to this day as the 'Church on the Sand' (Kościół Na Piasku).

Ask the archaeologists, however, as well as the historical scholars, and they'll tell you there's no evidence of a church here until the initiative of Władysław Jagiełło and Jadwiga of Poland, back in 1395. But even this incontrovertible fact isn't safe from embellishment, as denoted by the clearly marked, cordoned-off and "100% authentic" footprint of Queen Jadwiga, which graces the church's facade just above ground level on the corner facing ul. Garbarska. This indentation is naturally the result of another miracle, a curious case of the Queen's foot denting set plaster as she bestowed a golden buckle from her shoe upon a poor stonemason (no, she did not weigh 300 pounds, good guess though). Just two years later the church was handed over to the Carmelite Order invited from Prague by the monarchs, giving the name to the street on which it stands - ulica Karmelicka. Destroyed during the Swedish deluge and rebuilt in Baroque style in the second half of the 17th century, the church now bears remarkable resemblance to Rome's Church of the Gesù, from which it was shamelessly plagiarised.

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Open 05:30 - 20:00. No visiting during mass please.

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