Head of Christ by Wit Stwosz, Mariacki Cathedral, Krakow

Gothic Cross of Wit Stwosz School, 15th Cent., Mariacki Church, Krakow

This Crucifix from St. Mary's Cathedral, Mariacki, is from a right side altar. Credited to the late 15th century School of Wit Stwosz, the master carver of the period is creator of the famed Mariacki Altar depicting the Dormition of the Virgin. The Mariacki altar is consider the greatest work of art ever created in Poland, and perhaps the finest late Gothic artwork of all Europe. While the stunning two-story polyptych is made from limed, the Crucifix seen here is carved from sandstone. Mariacki Church, founded in 1222 and rebuilt in 1355 after the Tartar invasion, is one of the finest Gothic structures in Poland. The massive structure and its distinctive unmatched towers dominate the central square of the Old Town (Rynek.) Legend has it that during the Tartar invasions, a trumpeter climbed the 15th century spires sounding a warning call, his effort cut short by a Tartar arrow through the throat. To this day, on the hour a lone trumpeter plays the somber hejnal, halting abruptly at the point the watchman was hit. The trumpeter can be seen high above the city in the narrow tower windows. His song is broadcast live on Polish radio at noon every day. Currently undergoing a massive millennial renovation, the cathedral's Art Nouveau frescoes are stunning, as are the stained glass of Krakow legend Stanislaw Wyspianski.