M is for Mariacki and Marysia

Poland-eagle-150squareOne of my very first sights when I visited Poland for the first time was the Mariacki Church.  The splendour of the Rynek Główny in Kraków, Europe’s largest market square, is crowned by this church.  Later, on a guided tour given by my neice Weronika, we crept respectfully around the aisles and I looked up in awe.

Veit Stoss Altar, Mariacki Church

The blue ceiling covered in stars was so joyous.  I almost said heavenly but that sounds too corny, however true.  I’d never before seen anything like it.

The showpiece of the church is the Veit Stoss Altar, depicted on these postcards. With great ceremony the altar is opened at noon each day to reveal the exquisite carvings beneath.

Gilded wood panels of the Altar in close up

Gilded wood panels of the Altar in close up

St. Mary’s Church, or Kościół Mariacki, dates from the 14th century and stands 262 feet tall (80m).  Today it draws the crowds largely for the appearance of the trumpeter, who performs hourly at the top of the taller of the two towers.  The sad little notes die away abruptly.  According to legend this commemorates the trumpeter who was pierced through the throat while sounding the alarm for an impending Mongol attack on the city.  These days it’s a happy occasion and he waves to the cheering crowd below before disappearing.

I don’t often use video clips in my posts but I accidentally came across this one and loved it.  The commentary is in Polish, but you get to see the trumpeter in close up.

The noon-time trumpet call, known as the Hejnał mariacki, is broadcast across the nation by Polish Radio 1.  More details are on this Wikipedia link.

Marysia is one of my Polish cousins.  In the very early days of our reunion with the Polish family I received a lovely email from her, introducing herself and family to me. She is married to Pawel, a musician with a wicked sense of humour. They have a daughter, Kasia, and son, Michał (do you remember that the last letter is pronounced “w”?)

Marysia is another of Zygmunt and Lodzia’s daughters. (I posted about them in L is for Lusia, Lodzia and Lodz)  She lives in the village of Zawady, near to Dad’s original old farmstead, but Marysia and Pawel have a beautiful modern home. Within the family there are many skills, and when it comes to home-making, these are readily shared.  Piotrek, Marysia’s brother, is a fine carpenter and the polished wood floors and banisters are all his work.

Kasia was only 20 when we first met, and had spent the Summer working in Nottingham, to help pay for her university studies.  This was an enormous coincidence as my daughter lives in Nottingham.  You can imagine her astonishment when I produced a Polish cousin living virtually on her doorstep!  A meetup was arranged, of course.

Lisa, Kasia, friend Paulina, me and Leo, in Nottingham

Lisa, Kasia, friend Paulina, me and Leo, in Nottingham

Kasia has now completed her education and, at the time of writing, is working in Germany.  Her younger brother is still studying.  Marysia herself runs a lovely little boutique in Bełchatów.  Confused yet?  I often am, too!

It just remains for me to thank Julie Dawn Fox, who began the Personal A-Z Challenge, and Frizz, who has welcomed me into his A-Z Challenge too.  This week it’s “mmm”!  Follow the links to find out more, and maybe join in?



  1. foto spettacolari illustrano perfettamente la magnificenza degli edifici, presto andrò in Polonia e assolutamente non perderò questo grande spettacolo
    un grande abbraccio

    spectacular picture illustrate perfectly the magnificence of the buildings, soon I will go to Poland and never lose this great show
    a big hug


  2. I love the story about the trumpeter and that this tradition is continued today. It is such a unique thing to have and much more interesting than just a bell! What I could not find out when I was there was whether it was every hour, 24-hours per day that the trumpeter played. Do you know?
    I liked how all the tourists look up to try and see the trumpeter and all the locals just get on with their business. The sound from it is quite moving, particularly early in the morning when nobody is around. I got there for 7am to see what the atmosphere would be like that early.
    Such a beautiful church inside.


    1. That’s a fascinating question, Colin, and no I don’t know the answer, but I will find out for you (and me 🙂 ) I thought the altar was astounding, but I didn’t really like the way they market it. There was a beggar on the steps and I would rather the money had gone to him than to keep the priests in their pomp and ceremony. That’s Catholicism, I guess.


  3. 🙂 I’ve come back to watch the video 🙂 It is wonderful Jo. I even understood the priest’s talk a bit. I was planning to post about French Gothic with a pic of Notre Dame (it will happen some time soon). I hope you are well and not blue on an early Autumn day.


  4. This is a timely post for us Jo, because this very day we heard the trumpeter play his his abruptly ended song. In fact, I’ve heard it the past two days, and I think it was a different song each day. Do you know if this is true, or were my ears playing tricks? ~ James


    1. The first time I was there a service was in progress and we nipped into the back of the church just for a quick look. I was gobsmacked! I returned another time to coincide with the opening of the altar, which is a tad stage-managed but it IS amazing. 🙂


  5. Stunning church and yes, I am slightly puzzled by all the family connections. But it’s like that in my family as well. many people in my family have 4 or more kids. Hard to keep track!


    1. This is one of many, TBM, so if you like this kind of thing you’d be in for a treat in Krakow. I would be quite hard pressed to choose between Krakow, Wroclaw and Porto personally but I also have quite a fancy for Budapest. Hey, where don’t I fancy? Looking forward to seeing where you choose 🙂


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