One of the oldest churches in Poland, coronation place of several Kings and sanctuary of Saint Adalbert, patron of Poland and Czechia – the cathedral in Gniezno has more than 1000 years and is one of the symbols of Polish history and statehood. It is also filled with prime pieces of art, foremost the famous Gniezno Doors, a pair of bronze doors depicting the life of St. Adalbert and one of the most significant examples of Romanesque art.
The first church on the Lech Hill (Wzgórze Lecha) stood as early as in the end of the 19th century, being a simple stone rotunda. The first cathedral was built under the rule of Bolesław the Brave and soon became the burial place of St. Adalbert – the first Polish saint and the seat of the archbishop. For the following 300 years the cathedral was the coronation place of several Polish Kings. The present Gothic style is an effect of several reconstructions, with the last one being result of WWII destruction (the Soviet Army fired artillery on the cathedral without any real purpose). There are many examples of other styles, from Baroque to Classicism. Those are especially well represented in the chain of chapels surrounding the main nave.
The cathedral is available for public daily ad free of charge, however sightseeing is prohibited during masses. You may also visit the subterranean level, where the foundations of the first cathedral can be seen, or climb one of the two towers for the magnificent view of the city and its surroundings. Entrance to crypts and the tower is paid.
Text: Jacek Cieślewicz