Chapel of St Margaret and St Judith, Kraków
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Chapel of St Margaret and St Judith



In its spatial layout, the chapel is reminiscent of Renaissance central tomb chapels. While many such brick chapels came into being in Poland in the 16th and the 17th century, wooden structures of that type were rare. The Cracow chapel is already such a "Renaissance" structure, but still with some Gothic-like forms. It is one of the oldest surviving wooden chapels in Poland build on a central floor plan.


The chapel of St Margaret and St Judith is a sacred structure associated in historical terms with the monastery complex of Norbertine Sisters Convent, brought to the village of Zwierzyniec in Cracow between 1148 and 1165 by Jaksa Gryfita from Miechów. It is not known when the Norbertine sisters founded the first chapel, which was probably buried down in 1587. Most probably, it was a commemorative building dedicated to the sisters. It is possible that between 1591 and 1604, a second chapel was built it the place of the former. It was a cemetery structure around which the victims of a cholera epidemic in 1652 were buried. In 1657, the chapel was destroyed by Swedes. The third chapel, preserved until today, was built in the years 1689-1690 at the initiative of the prioress of the Norbertine monastery, sister Justyna Oraczewska. The church was used as a mass chapel, and the cemetery around it was still used at a mass burial place for those who died during the cholera epidemic in the years 1707 and 1709. There was a popular opinion in the 19th century that the chapel is situated in a place where once pagan rites were carried out, and the building itself is reminiscent of a cult structure from that time, hence it was often called as a pagan shrine (Polish: “Gontyna”). Such views, however, did not have any justification. The church was renovated a couple of times in 18th and 19th century. In the 1st half of the 20th century, it was in such a bad technical condition that it was no longer used as a place of worship. In the years 1956-1957, the historical building was renovated by the Historic Monuments Conservation Workshops in Cracow State Enterprise. The stone foundations, walls, and cupolas were renovated then, among other things, weatherboards of external walls were replaced by wood shingles, and a small balcony was added above the entrance. Conservation works were continued in the years 1989-1990. The log structure of the building, among other things, was conserved and renovated at that time, as well as the cupola, and lantern, and weatherboards were restored in the place of the wood shingle cladding from the years 1956-1957.


The chapel is located on an elevated terrain between the monastery complex of Norbertine sisters and the church of the Holiest Saviour, which existed in this place as a parish church already in the first half of the 12th century. The church is wooden and based on a log structure. The weatherboards on the walls are topped with a profiled cornice. The chapel was erected on an octagonal floor plan. It is topped by an octopartite cupola laid with wood shingles and topped with a glazed lantern. In the main entrance in the eastern wall, there is a surviving lintel beam, cut in an ogee shape. The wooden door features decorative blacksmith strapwork. Over the entrance, there is an overhanging small balcony added in 1957. The fittings of the one-bay interior, without painting decorations, are modest. The original 17th century fittings are stored in the monastery of Norbertine sisters, and the present church fittings are constituted by artefacts brought from other Cracow churches. The early-Baroque main altar from the 1st half of the 17th century, with a depiction of Christ the Saviour, painted in 1962 by Ludomir Śledziński, comes from the nearby church of the Holiest Saviour. The side altars from the first half of the 18th century were brought from the church of St Adalbert located on the Main Market Square. Among the interesting artefacts that can be found in the church, there is a crucifix made in approx. 1939 by sculptor Bronisław Langman, which was originally intended for the building of the Silesian Sejm in Katowice.

The historic monument is accessible. The chapel may be viewed inside after services from May to October on the first and third Sunday of a month. The church is located on the Wooden Architecture Route of Małopolska. Access in the summer period can be also possible as part of the tour of selected monuments on the route.

compiled by Tadeusz Śledzikowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Krakow, 09.09.2014.


  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, t. IV: Miasto Kraków, cz. VII tekst: Zwierzyniec, Nowy Świat, Półwsie Zwierzynieckie, red. Daranowska-Łukaszewska J., Henoch-Marendziuk R., Warszawa 1995, s. 65-66.
  • Rożek M., Gondkowa B., Leksykon kościołów Krakowa, Kraków 2003, s. 81.
  • Śledzikowski T., Drewniane kościoły, kaplice i dzwonnice w Krakowie, Rocznik Krakowski, t. LXXIII, Kraków 2007, s. 83-87.
  • Sudacka A., Kaplica pw. św. Małgorzaty w Krakowie, dokumentacja naukowo-konserwatorska, Kraków 1990, Archiwum Oddziału Terenowego Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa w Krakowie, s. 4-5, 12, 15,18-22.
  • Sudacka A, Kaplica śś. Małgorzaty i Judyty na wzgórzu salwatorskim w Krakowie, „Kościoły Drewniane”, z. 47, red. i wyd. M. Kornecki, Kraków 1997.
  • Sudacka A., Sprawozdanie z I etapu badań naukowo-historycznych kaplicy pw. św. Małgorzaty w Krakowie, mps, PKZ Kraków 1990, s. 4-5.

General information

  • Type: chapel
  • Chronology: 1689-1690
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Św. Bronisławy 8, Kraków
  • Location: Voivodeship małopolskie, district Kraków, commune Kraków
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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