Polish UNESCO: Kalwaria Zebrzydowska

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, a small village near Cracow, is famous for The Passion-Marian Sancturay. In 1999 the sacral complex was inscribed to UNESCO Hertitage List as the only one calvary in the world.

The idea to create the monastic complex and Way of the Cross in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska was conceived at the turn of the 17th century by the Kraków voivode (province governor) Mikołaj Zebrzydowski, who found those hills to resemble Jerusalem's.

First the Bernardine monastery and church were built, followed by a string of chapels based on genuine Jerusalem buildings, which made up the Way of the Cross and Marian stations. One of the hills became Golgotha (Calvary), another was named Mount of Olives and the river came to be called the Kidron.

Forty chapels from the 17th-19th centuries are dotted around the scenic hills and river valley. The chapels are  linked by wide pathways lined with lovely old beeches and oaks and totalling about 7 km - a great walk, weather permitting.

The Holy Week before Easter sees the spectacular Kalwaria Passion plays , which earned the place worldwide fame. The colourful, extremely realistic spectacles attract thousands of pilgrims, tourists and artists (notably photographers) from Poland and abroad.

Note the basilica's holiest image - the miraculous 17th-century painting of the Virgin and Child to the left of the high altar.

Info: Kalwaria Zebrzydowska (www.kalwaria.ofm.pl) is about 40 km from Kraków along Road No. 7.

Source: Poland - an ilustrated guidebook. For more information look at Pascal

See more pictures of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska

See other places worth seeing in Cracow area: Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka

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