Eastern Europe 2013 #2 – St. Mary’s Altar, Krakow, Poland

If you ask me what impressed me most during this trip, without hesitation, I would say ” St. Mary’s Altar.”   It is called Altarpiece of Veit Stoss, at St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, Poland.  The altarpiece was carved between 1477 and 1489 by the Bavarian sculptor Veit Stoss.   If you google this title, all you can see are pictures of this beautiful wooden altar, which is the largest gothic altarpiece in the world.  What I saw was more!

It was the opening of the panel of the altar piece, which is scheduled to open once a day at noon by a nun.  Our Tour Director was able to bring us right in front of the altar.  We had seats as well as an excellent view.  We were allowed to film if we paid a small amount.  Every institution needs revenue, and we were very happy to pay. Let me share with you a video that I created and posted on You-tube.   The quality of the video is not that good as the church was very crowded and I tried not to include too many people in the video.

Now  you have seen how lucky we were!  The moment when the panel was opened, there was a feeling of heaven!  I am not a religious person but I did have that feeling.

I read a little about this beautiful national treasure of Poland.  If you are interested, here are the links to some interesting and educational information:


As I wasn’t too prepared, and my iPhone did not zoom very well, I did not take picture of each panel.  According to the above wiki website, there are six side panels, three  on each side of the main altarpiece in the center, which depicts  the death of Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother.  The six panels depict:  Annunciation, Nativity, Three Wise men, Resurrection of Christ, Ascension of Christ, and Descent of the Holy Spirit. When closed, the panels show 12 scenes of the life of Jesus and Mary.

If you are interested in the St. Mary’s Basilica, here’s the link to some helpful facts.


“St. Mary’s Basilica also served as an architectural model for many of the churches that were built by the Polish diaspora abroad, particularly those like St. Michael’s and St. John Cantius in Chicago, designed in the so-called Polish Cathedral style.”

I am not familiar with this, but will look for Polish Cathedral style in Chicago if I go there next time.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. seeker says:

    One of many beautiful churches in Europe. Thank ou for sharing.

    1. friendlytm says:

      Indeed there are many beautiful churches and castles in this trip. But the opening of the panel is more than beauty. I witnessed the opening of a path to divinity!

  2. Hi Denise, We were just in Krakow and you’re right about St. Mary’s Altar. It’s awesome! We didn’t get to see the opening of the panel, so I’m so glad you filmed it. Great post and gorgeous photos. ~Terri

    1. friendlytm says:

      Hi, Terri and James: what a coincident that we were all in Krakow at nearly the same time. I love what you saw, which are more than what I saw! I am blessed with the opportunity to see the opening of the panel. But your posts had another way of illuminating my interests to see what most tourists don’t normally see. I love your quote of Rick Steve. But I was too busy to read before I started this trip. I look forward to reading more of your posts on Poland. I visited Poland for the first time, and the trip was too short to get into the depth of its cultures and history. I am learning a lot more from your blog. Happy traveling, my friends!

      1. Isn’t it great that we all saw different things in Poland! That makes the sharing even more fun. 🙂 ~T

      2. friendlytm says:

        Indeed! Thanks for sharing and visiting my blog.

  3. Clanmother says:

    There is in us a sense of the infinite that responds with joyous abandon when enfolded in a sacred space…

    Beautiful post…

    1. friendlytm says:

      your comment is as beautiful! thanks.

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