Kraków, Poland

Church and Convent of the Premonstratensian Nuns, Kraków, Poland

The church of St. Augustine and St. John the Baptist and its attendant monastery were founded around 1181. It was originally built with defence in mind, like St. Andrew’s Church it has arrow loops incorporated into the façade. However, unlike St. Andrew’s it did not survive the Mongol raid of 1241 and was rebuilt in the 1250s, although some parts of the original do survive.

In the late 16th and early 17th Century Abbess Katska ordered the church to be rebuilt. However, when the Swedish arrived their General Würtz ordered that the church be burnt down (this was in 1657). The burning happened, but Würtz was not satisfied. The church and convent had fought off the Swedish attack and so he drafted in miners from Wieliczka to take down the burnt walls. The miners deliberately worked as slowly as possible and by the time the Swedish left Kraków a few years later there was enough remaining for reconstruction to be complete by 1665.

It is from this church that the Lajkonik, Kraków’s traditional hobby-horse, leaves for his trip around the City every year to celebrate Kraków’s eventual victory over the Mongol Horde – today this is one of Kraków’s favourite festivals.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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