Saint Mary’s Basilica is the largest Brick Gothic church in Poland and the third-largest in the world after San Petronio Basilica in Bologna, Italy and the Frauenkirche in Munich, Germany. It can accommodate about 25 000 people.
Located in the city of Gdańsk, the Basilica of Saint Mary, or Bazylika Mariacka, is one of the most famous objects of Poland’s cultural heritage. Among the treasures, there are the high Gothic altar and the XV century astronomical clock. Now it is the most visited church in Gdańsk.
Are you planning to visit Gdańsk? In this article, you will find useful information about the largest Brick Gothic church in Poland: from interesting facts to opening hours, entrance fee and more. Note: This is not a sponsored article, it includes purely my personal experience. All photos were taken by me.
Where is Saint Mary’s Basilica?
The Basilica is situated at the axis of the three main streets in the heart of the Main Town of Gdańsk. The building cannot be missed, as you can see it from so many places.
Address: ul. Podkramarska 5 80–834, Gdańsk
Coordinates: 54° 21′ 0.648” N, 18° 39′ 12.708” E
Altitude: 0 meters
Phone: +48 58 301 39 82
Opening times & Admission prices
Monday–Friday: 08.30–17.30 (June–August: till 18.30)
Sunday: 11.00–12.00; 13.00–17.30 (June–August: till 18:30)
April: 09.00–18.00; May and June: 09.00–19.00
July and August: 09.00–21.00; September: 09.00–20.00
October and November: 09.00–18.00 (Monday–Thursday), 09.00–19.00 (Friday–Sunday)
December, January, February, and March: 10:00–16.00 (Saturday and Sunday)
Basilica: Admission is free.
Tower: 10 PLN (normal), 5 PLN (reduced)
Interesting historical facts about Saint Mary’s Basilica
- It was built between 1343 and 1502, so the construction took 159 years!
- In the 16th century, the Reformation arrived in Gdańsk, and the Protestants took over the Basilica. Until 1945, it was the second-largest Lutheran church in the world.
- Tragically, the church was heavily damaged at the end of World War II, during the storming of the city by the Red Army, and what can be seen today is the result of restoration.
A basilica, whose construction began in 1343, already in 1379 turned out too small to satisfy the ambition of the local oligarchy, who accordingly commissioned the Danzig architect Heinrich Ungeradin to build a new one. In the same year, the construction of the present church was begun. The architecture of the building most likely was inspired by the St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck, Germany – the first great example of the Brick Gothic style.
The length of the church is 105 meters (344 feet), the width of the transept is 66 meters (217 feet), and of the body of the church – 44 meters (144 feet). The vaults in the ceiling are 30 meters (98 feet) high and are carried up by 26 pillars in white.
The austere church interior houses many valuable works of art, including a 15th-century “Beautiful Madonna” and a copy of “The Last Judgement” by the German painter Hans Memling (the original can be seen in the National Museum). There are 31 chapels, 300 tombstones, 36 large windows, a great astronomical clock, and a beautiful organ. The high altar has an immense Gothic polyptych (1511–1517) from the workshop of Master Michael of Augsburg, with the Coronation of the Virgin depicted in its central panel.
Gdańsk Astronomical Clock
Next to the sacristy is the reconstruction of a 12-meter astronomical clock (1464–1470), the work of German clockmaker Hans Düringer. It is the largest astronomical clock that was constructed in medieval Europe.
The clock contains a majority of its original elements and shows not only the time and date but also the calendar of saints, the moon phases, the positions of the sun and moon in relation to the Zodiac, with Adam and Eve ringing in the hours.
The massive square tower, clearly visible on the Gdańsk cityscape, is 82 meters (269 feet) high. In the old days, it served an important function but today it is just an observation platform. To get to the top you have to climb 405 steps.
Visiting Saint Mary’s Basilica
The Basilica is very imposing and impressive from the outside – I pondered on the men that built this back in the day with the basic of wooden scaffolding. Entering the temple is breathtaking and its colossal size is even more impressive, with its supporting pillars, large windows and beautiful sculptures. The clock, representing time, calendar and Zodiac signs, is amazing.
I climbed the 400+ steps to the top of the Tower for the incredible views of Gdańsk. It was not too strenuous and not at all busy. At the top, the area is limited in space but the 360-degree views of the city provide a great impression of the surrounding area.
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I hope you enjoyed my guide to Saint Mary’s Basilica in Gdańsk! Please share it with your friends on your social media. Here are a few more informative and interesting articles that I recommend you read next:
- The 6 most beautiful churches in Poland
- Saint Mary’s Basilica: The largest Brick Gothic church in Poland
- The 6 most beautiful churches in Venice
Have you been to Gdańsk? Have you visited the largest Brick Gothic church in Poland recently? Do you enjoy exploring old architecture as much as I do? Do you like Gothic more than other styles? Feel free to post a comment below.