As far back as 1596 one of the Pope’s legation to Kraków, Giovanni Paolo Mocante, commented: “If there was no Rome, Kraków would be Rome”. This is due to its number and diversity of churches, most of which are noteworthy for their architecture and internal decorations representative of all the artistic eras. Kraków now has over 120 churches, of which over sixty were built in the twentieth century.
On 27th March 1335, King Casimir III of Poland (known as Casimir the Great - Kazimierz Wielki) declared the two western settlements of Kraków to be a new city named "Casimiria" (later “Kazimierz”) after himself. Shortly thereafter, in 1340, Bawól was also added, making the new city’s boundaries the same as the island in the Vistula upon which these three settlements were located.
The King settled the newly-built central section of Kazimierz primarily with burghers, and set aside a plot of land for the Augustinians next to the market place. The Jewish community in Kraków had lived undisturbed alongside their Christian neighbours under the protective King Casimir III.
King Casimir III introduced to Kraków the Order of St Augustine, who began construction of the Church of St Catherine and St Margaret, as it was officially called. One tradition has it that this magnificent church was the consequence of a “curse” (more technically, probably a king-sized ecclesiastical penance for his debauchery) that Bishop Bodzanta had issued against King Casimir.
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For the Augnet gallery of photos of St Catherine's Church, select the gallery named Poland after you click here.