Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
As Krakow used to be the capital city of Poland, its castle – Wawel – became the burial city of kings, queens and princes. It all started from Vladislav the Short who was crowned in Krakow and buried. His tomb can be seen in the Cathedral on the Wawel Hill. His son, Casimir the Great, and following rulers of Poland kept the tradition – although there are couple of exceptions.
Except for the tombs that can be seen in the upper part of the Krakow Cathedral, cathedral’s crypt contains even more remains of Polish rulers. In the main part of this shrine one can admire art pieces of various epochs and styles. Great gothic tomb of Vladislav the Short is the oldest one, followed by the tombs of Casimir the Great, St Jadwiga, Vladislav Jagiello, Casimir Jagiellonczyk and other that are most of the time displayed in the main nave. The last representatives of Jagiellonian family (and some of the elected kings) have their smaller tombs or plaques with their resemblance in separate chapels along the main nave. But their coffins containing remains are hidden in the crypt below the cathedral. There you may see also sarcophaguses of queens and princes.
As the crypt below the cathedral has been always thought to be the burial place of the greatest Poles, the remains of such great Poles as poets: Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Slowacki, and chiefs as Jozef Pilsudski and Wladyslaw Sikorski, have been also buried there.
But Krakow has another place that is thought to be the burial place of the greatest Poles – Skalka. The crypt situated below the church called Skalka (as it was founded on the kind of rock), contains the remains of poets, scientists and great Poles that deserve nation’s appreciation. It all started in 1880 when Jan Dlugosz – chronicler of 15th century – was reburied in the place that he supported during his life in Krakow. Soon after the remains of others were brought to Skalka where one can still visit them. Among them one can find great Polish painters: Stanislaw Wyspiankis and Jacek Malczewski, or poets like Adam Asnyk or Czeslaw Milosz.
Krakow has always been thought to be the cultural center of Poland but by many it is also perceived as a necropolis of the greatest Poles.