Church of St. Bernard's, Krakow
At the feet of the Wawel castle on the southern side stands St. Bernard's church. Last year I could not make a detailed visit of the splendid church interior because a mass was going on and there are many masses here every day. This time I had chosen the right time to visit the St. Bernard's church.
A previous Gothic church from the 15th c. was destroyed under the Swedish invasion in 1655. The early Baroque style church we see now was finished in 1680. It is a three-nave basilica with a transept and dome, with two-towered facade. The outside is sober, painted in white but inside, as usual in Krakow, the decors are abundant.
It's all gild on the main altar and the four side altars (photo 1). The gilded cable columns are an excellent example of late Baroque woodwork.
Renovation works were going on (2011) at the sides of the choir (photo 2).
What I prefer in this Baroque church is the altar of the lateral chapel showing a beautiful late-Gothic statue of St. Anne, the Virgin and Child, made in the workshop of Veit Stoss (ref. high altar of St. Mary's basilica) in the late fifteenth century (photo 3). I reckon my preference goes to Gothic religious sculptures versus Baroque art; the contrast between the wooden sculpture and the baroque decor is striking.
No visit during masses: week 6, 7, 8, 9 & 18.30 h; Sundays 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16 & 18.30 h.
The present day St. Bernard's Church was built between 1670 - 80. There was another church on the same spot before but it was destroyed in a siege in 1655.
The interior is all 17th century Baroque and VERY much gilded, as can be seen on pictures #2 - 4.
In St. Anne's Chapel, to the left of the altar, is a 15th century Gothic figure of St. Anne and Mary with the child (pic. #5). It was made at the Veit Stoss school (Veit Stoss also created the world famous altar in St. Mary's Church).
Although the facade of St. Bernard's is quite attractive, it's the immaculate interior that I enjoyed so much. It's still no match for the enormous and spectacular interior of St. Mary's but it's still very beautiful in its own right. Next to St. Mary's I thought it was the most beautiful church interior in the whole city, though I'll concede I didn't have time to enter most of the churches.
Located immediately to the southeast of Wawel Hill, Church of St. Bernard's wasn't even listed in my tour book. I just happened to stumble upon it while looking for an entrance to Wawel Hill, but I'm very lucky I found it because it turned out to be one of my favorite churches in Krakow.