Must-See John Paul II Sites in Krakow’s Old Town

There are many sites throughout Krakow that are directly related to St. Pope John Paul II, and definitely worth a visit by anyone interested in tracing his legacy in his home city.  From the churches where he gave his first masses, to the houses he lived in, we present you with the most important John Paul II sites located in and around the very centre of Krakow – strategically placed in an order that can be easily followed as a self-guided walking tour (see the map at the end of this post) or view the video here.  For more information about everything listed, including exact addresses and GPS, follow the links to our website.  And as always, we encourage you to download the free pdf of our bi-monthly guidebook to Krakow here.

Also, stay tuned here for more St. John Paul II coverage soon, when we’ll take you beyond Krakow’s downtown to several sites in the suburbs and surrounding region that are just as important to this great man’s life and legacy.

1. Where he attended church as a young Cracovian

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As a young lad in Dębniki Karol Józef Wojtyła attended the Church of St. Stanisław Kostka, and returned here to hold his 2nd mass ever as a priest.

2. His first home in Krakow

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When Karol Józef Wojtyła first moved to Krakow he lived in Dębniki, with his father, at 10 Ulica Tyniecka.

 3. Where he performed his first mass

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It was here, at Wawel Cathedral, that the Pope, as Karol Józef Wojtyła, performed his first mass as a priest in the Crypt of St.  Leonard, and where Sigismund Bell was rung, for the first time in a quarter of a century, upon his passing. The crypts are also where many Poles wish John Paul II was buried, instead of the Vatican.

4. His monument at Wawel

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If you wander around the grounds of Wawel Castle you will find a museum Wotyła opened and blessed, his last act before becoming Pope, with a statue of the late Pope next to it.  Though it may not be as great as having him buried here, it is an important monument.  Additional monuments to the late Pope can be found in Park Strzelecki,  the courtyard of the Bishop’s Palace and Rakowicki Cemetery.

5. Where he lived from 1951-1963
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Just near Wawel on Kanoniczka Street you will find both the houses that JPII lived in at ul. Kanoniczna 19 and 21 – today a museum where you can view his former living quarters, gifts he received as Pope, robes and other personal effects.

6. Where JPII lived as Archbishop of Krakow

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Adjacent to St. Francis Basilica you will find the Bishop’s Palace where he lived from 1963 to 1978, when he was elected to be the 263rd Pope.

7. The Papal Window

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The street-side window of the Bishop’s Palace, referred to as the ‘Papal Window,’ is where Pope John Paul II would often sit and speak to the crowds of people below, both as archbishop and later during his visits as Pope. Every year on April 2nd – the anniversary of his death – hundreds of people gather here, lighting candles and lanterns to remember one of the most beloved Poles in history.

8. Jagiellonian University

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Pope John Paul II enrolled in philosophy, Polish studies, and other various languages at Jagellonian University.  He remained a student there until the Nazi-Party overtook Poland and he was forced to get a job and continue his seminary studies in secrecy. One of his jobs was at the Zakrzowek limestone quarryjust west of the Old Town.

9. The church where he served as Chaplain

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At St. Florian’s church the late Pope acted as a Chaplain to both students and health-workers.

This concludes our survey of some of the must-see John Paul II sites in Krakow, Poland. To view a video of these sights please gohere.  And feel free to download the handy map below.

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