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Information Text: Krakow - Renaissance - Architects and their work

The Zygmunt Chapel; Photo: Beata Poręba

Franciszek Florentczyk is the artist who created the white sandstone niche above Jan Olbracht’s tomb - the first work of the Renaissance style in Poland. He also designed the arcade gallery surrounding the Castle courtyard. The artist introduced numerous innovative architectural solutions, for example, the columns of the highest floor consisted of two main parts connected with a decorative capital.

Another important Renaissance architect was Bartolommeo Berrecci from Pontassieve. His most famous work is the burial chapel for the last Jagiellons (1524 – 1531) at Wawel Cathedral, called the Zygmunt Chapel, as well as the Bishop Piotr Tomicki Chapel.

The Chapel foundations were laid in 1519. The lower part is square-based with the eight-side drum supporting the elliptic copula topped with the lantern. The copula roof is covered with gilded copper in the shape of fish scales. In the middle arcade niches, the altar and the tombstones of Zygmunt I Stary and Zygmunt August II are situated. The opening altar founded by Zygmunt I Stary is the joint work of the Nuremberg artists from the years 1531 to 1538. It was executed according to the general design of Hans Dürer. Berrecci’s numerous Kraków based countrymen worked at his architectural studio. Among them were Antoni from Fiesole, Mikołaj Castiglione, Bernardyn Zenobi de Gianotis, Jan Soli and Jan Cini (the author of the frescos in the Zygmunt Chapel). Yet another outstanding architect was Jan Maria Padovano. He prepared a model design of the whole of Kraków in 1541, and in 1551 of the Bishop Palace in Prądnik.

Sukiennice; Photo: Beata Poręba

Apart from the Italian architects, there was a group of Polish artists working at that time. Gabriel Słoński and Jan Michałowicz from Urzędów, the author of the tombs of Andrzej Zebrzydowski and Filip Padniewski. Those Polish artists were called the Polish Praxiteles.

Works testify to the greatness of their creators. The following Renaissance buildings stand out due their spectacular character and beauty:

The Decjusz Villa is a Renaissance palace situated on the area of Wola Justowska in Kraków. It was built by Justus Ludwik Decjusz, its later owner, in 1535. The project was created by the Italian architects, Bartolommeo Berrecci from Pontassieve and Jan Cini. The arcade loggia and the garden are the special architectural elements of this building. Nowadays, the Decjusz Villa is the seat of the European Academy.

Sukiennice (the Cloth Hall) was rebuilt in Renaissance style after the fire. The huge hall was vaulted and the whole building was topped with a manneristic roof façade adorned with gargoyles by Santi Gucci. His countryman, Jan Maria Padovano, added column loggias emphasizing the unique beauty of Sukiennice.