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St. Mary’s Basilica

Tartar invasions of the 13th century left the original church in ruins and construction began on the current St. Mary’s using the existing foundations. The main body of the church was built between 1350-1397; it took the entire 15th century to complete the structure with the erection of the two towers, the addition of the chapels, and the completion of the ceilings.

 

The magnificent altarpiece was for 12 years the principal work of the 15th century German artist Veit Stoss and depicts the Virgin Mary’s Quietus among the apostles.

 

Legend has it that two brothers competed to see who could build the higher tower on the church. The elder, when he had finished the higher north tower, murdered his brother to prevent him from finishing the south tower which had almost reached the same height. He was overcome by remorse, however, and after confessing his crime he committed suicide by leaping from a high window of his own tower.

 

On every hour, a trumpet signal—the Hejnał mariacki—is played from the top of the taller of St. Mary's two towers. The tune breaks off in mid-stream, to commemorate a 13th century trumpeter who was shot in the throat while sounding the alarm before a Mongol attack on the city. The noon-time hejnał is heard across Poland and abroad broadcast live by the Polish national Radio 1 Station.

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Taken on June 1, 2011