Kalwaria Zebrzydowski

Calvary Sanctuary 

In 1600 Poland’s first Calvary sanctuary was established in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, a town in the Carpathian Foothills 33 km southwest from Krakow, to provide pilgrims with a substitute of Jerusalem lost to the Muslim Turks and thus unavailable at the time. With its 42 churches and chapels of all shapes and sizes in addition to the central basilica and the Franciscan monastery, the vast complex of buildings scattered among woods on the slopes of the 527-meter-high Zar mountain grew to be the biggest such compound in Europe.

It is also Poland’s second most important historic destination for pilgrims. Over the centuries, the pilgrimage to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska influenced millions of Poles. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999, connections with the late John Paul II are manifold. The park was one of his favourite places, and he visited the site on countless occasions to relax during his life.


The sanctuary’s places of interest

The 17th-century Baroque church of the Angelic Mother of God’s adjoins the Franciscan monastery of the same age. The most revered place is the chapel with Our Lady of Kalwaria miraculous picture, followed by the chapel of St. Anthony of Padua. It is the starting point of several overlapping pilgrimage circuits, the Passion Path in the first place, laid out in hilly woodland from one Baroque chapel to another.  Each of the 42 tiny churches is different and represents a Jerusalem site prominent in the New Testament and/or the Christian tradition, be it the Virgin Mary’s Cottage or Herod’s Place, while hills and streams bear such names as Zion, Golgotha, and Mount of Olives.