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After Tartar raids in the 13th century left the original church in a heap of ruins, St. Mary’s was rebuilt in Gothic style on the existing foundations and consecrated in 1320. In the early 15th century the towers took the iconic form they have today, when the northern tower was raised to 80m high and made into a watchtower for the city. It is from here that the hejnał mariacki - the city's famous bugle call - is played every hour on the hour. One of the city's most enduring traditions, the tune ironically breaks off mid-melody in honour of the mythical trumpeter who was shot in the neck while belatedly warning the city of Mongol invaders; don't miss it.
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No matter how many times you see them - the altarpiece, stained glass windows of the nave, and the blue, starred ceiling on St. Mary's will take your breath away. The magnificent wooden altarpiece was the principal work of 15th century German artist Veit Stoss (aka Wit Stwosz) for 12 painstaking years, and depicts the Virgin Mary’s Quietus among the apostles; note, however, that gradual conservation work on the altar is currently underway (projected to last until 2020), and not all elements may be on display during your visit. Surrounding the altar are polychrome paintings by Polish masters Matejko, Mehoffer and Wyspiański done in the late 19th century.
The church is typically available for worship without paying an entry fee via the main entrance. Tourists are asked to use a side entrance, however, and not visit during services; we list the tourist visiting hours below. Tickets are purchased in a separate building across from the tourist entrance. The two church towers are also open to tourists from April until end of October, but require separate tickets. The Bugle Tower is open to groups of 10 people max every 30mins from Tue-Sat 09:10-17:30, Sun 13:10-17:30; admission 15/10zł, no kids under 7. [Note that these tickets cannot be bought in advance and sell out very early in the morning.] Bell Tower open by appointment only; admission 15zł, no kids.