St. John's Archcathedral Crypts in Warsaw

Krypty katedry św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie

The underground of the Archcathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Warsaw, Poland's capital, is an impressive pantheon of famous Poles. Furthermore, because the crypt's walls originate from the medieval period, they are the most authentic parts of the structure. Underneath the cathedral, visitors may hear the "wind of history" that once delighted Henryk Sienkiewicz, a Polish journalist, novelist, and Nobel Prize laureate.

I like to explore the dimly lit crypts of historic European cathedrals; how about you? Not only is this a little mystical and eerie stay among the remains of historical figures underground, but it is also an opportunity to enjoy the medieval architecture of the cathedral cellars and, in a sense, touch history with your presence – times that no longer exist.

Since its foundation as a collegiate church in the 14th century, St. John's Archcathedral has been the most important temple in the Polish capital. Four royal weddings took place here:  Władysław IV Vasa with Cecilia Renata (1637), Władysław IV Vasa with Ludwika Maria Gonzaga (1646), John II Casimir Vasa with Ludwika Maria Gonzaga (1649), and John III Sobieski with Maria Kazimiera d Arquien (1665), as well as four coronations for Queen Cecylia Renata (1637), Queen Eleanor Habsburg (1670), Stanislaus I and Katarzyna Opalińska (1705), and Stanisław II August (1764).

Among the well-known Poles buried in St. John's Archcathedral crypts are Stanisław August Poniatowski, Poland's last king, Mazovia dukes Janusz I the Elder and his grandson Bolesław III, composer and Prime Minister of Poland Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the first President of Poland Gabriel Narutowicz, also Ignacy Mościcki, Poland's longest-serving President, and Józef Glemp, Cardinal and Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw.

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Warsaw Map

The Church's Brief History

14th century

The oldest documented date for Warsaw's John's Archcathedral is 1339. At that time, the parish church became the seat of the court of the delegates of Pope Benedict XII, whose verdict ordered the Teutonic knights to return the plundered lands to Poland and pay compensation.

15th–16th centuries

In 1406 Pope Boniface IX elevated the Warsaw parish church to the status of the collegiate church. After the tower collapsed during a hurricane in 1606, King Sigismund III Vasa rebuilt it in Baroque style.

18th–19th century

1798 marked the church's elevation to cathedral status, followed by 1817 by archcathedral designation. Adam Idkowski, a Polish architect, renovated the building in Neo-Gothic style between 1836 and 1840.

20th century

The cathedral's lack of a basement led to the unification of the crypts during the interwar period. Unfortunately, during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, Luftwaffe bombs and artillery fire destroyed the temple and its ornate interior.

St. John's Archcathedral, like the rest of Warsaw's Old Town – a World Cultural Heritage Site since 1980 – was rebuilt after the war; the underground was opened to visitors in 1972 after a renovation (which included a new stone floor and decorative metal grilles). The style of the building is Gothic.

St. John's Archcathedral Crypts in Pictures

Krypty katedry św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie
A royal Vasa family child's sarcophagus from the 17th century

Krypty katedry św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie
Reconstruction of a royal Vasa family baby's burial (17th century)

Krypty katedry św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie
Reconstruction of a small child's burial in a burial gown with garlands

Krypty katedry św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie
Reconstruction of a bishop's burial in pontifical robes 

Krypty katedry św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie
The Gothic Chapel

Krypty katedry św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie
A sarcophagus from the 18th century containing the ashes of Stanislaus II Augustus, the last monarch of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Krypty katedry św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie
Warsaw Archbishops' Crypt

Krypty katedry św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie
The grave of Poland's first president, Gabriel Narutowicz (20th century)

How to Get There

St. John's Archcathedral stands in the Old Town of Warsaw, on Świętojańska Street, between the Market Square and the Castle Square. The crypts' entrance is close to the end of the left aisle, near the Baryczka family chapel. 

Address: Świętojańska 8, 00-278 Warsaw, Poland

By Public Transportation

Bus (lines 160, 190): Stare Miasto 02 
Tram (line 4,13,20,23, 26): Stare Miasto 02

Opening Hours & Ticket Prices

If you intend to visit St. John's Archcathedral and its crypts, please check its official website for current prices and operating hours.

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