Europe Travel

Travel || Bazylika Mariacka (St. Mary’s Basilica), Gdansk

Bazylika Mariacka (which I’ll be calling St. Mary’s Basilica for ease for the rest of this post) is a gorgeous but extremely imposing structure that you can’t help but notice dominates Old Town Gdansk. Construction on the church began in the 1300s. It’s currently one of the largest brick churches in the entire world. Only San Petronio Basilica in Bologna is bigger. (It’s volume is between 185,000 m³ and 190,000  m³). 

Religiously, it has a super interesting history: because Gdansk has changed hands between countries so many times (including being its own city state), the basilica has switched between being Catholic and Lutheran multiple times. And at one point in time, it even functioned as a Lutheran church and a Catholic cathedral at the exact same time. (That’s some epic sharing, in my opinion!) 

Until World Ward II it was incredibly well-preserved; however, when the Red Army marched on German occupied Danzig (Gdansk) it was almost completely destroyed: the wooden roof burned completely and most of the ceiling fell in. Fourteen of the large vaults collapsed. The windows were destroyed. In places the heat was so intense that some of the bricks melted, especially in the upper parts of the tower. Reconstruction began almost immediately after the war. The church has now been fully restored and can seat around 25,000 people. 

The beautiful astronomical clock is from the 1400s, and here’s a grim bit of trivia for you: the clockmaker allegedly had his eyes gouged out so that he could never make a more beautiful clock. If I was a medieval clockmaker, I’d settle for my work being purely mediocre. And here’s one more bit of grimness: the sculptor who carved the crucifix had nailed his naughty son-in-law to the model to add a bit of realistic inspiration.

It’s free to enter the church, but if you’d like to climb the tower for some of the best views of the city, then you have to pay to do so. Also, it’s a hard climb; it’s a 78 metre tall tower and it’s over 405 steps. But once you get to the viewing platform at the top, all that hardworking climbing is so worth it! 

The cost to climb the tower is 6 Polish złoty. (That’s about £1.20 with the current exchange rate.) 

Bazylika Mariacka is located at Podkramarska 5, 80-834 Gdańsk, Poland. 

Isn’t the view from the top totally worth it? 

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  • Wow! Look at those views! You know, I never thought it was worth it to pay to go to the top of church towers until last week when I went to the top of a church tower in Latvia — totally worth it! And it supports the church as well, which is really nice.

    • It was the same situation here! (Re: money supporting the upkeep of the building, etc) It’s actually one of the first ones that I’ve bothered to go to the to of, and I’m so glad that I did. I might be a convert (for a reasonable price!) x

  • Wow that view! Just incredible that in Poland everything is so cheap! I bet in the UK they’d have charged at least a tenner to get to the top! Alice xx

    • It costs £15 to climb to the top of the tower in the York Minster so I’ve actually not done that! (Whoops!). Minster tickets are valid for an entire year (so you could do it multiple times…) but…. I haven’t! One day! x

  • Wow! What a place! Your photographs are simply gorgeous!


  • I love getting to take in a new place from above, what a lovely view!

  • impressive church

  • That’s just slightly too much realism for my touristing…

  • Hahaha, right? Note to self: never be a medieval clock maker! x

  • I’m liking the grim historical facts. I wonder why they chose to gouge his eyes out, rather than cut off his hands or just maim him a little. If I had made a really beautiful clock and people were concerned about me besting myself I’d like to think I could work with them on a compromise before it got to the eye gouging… I’d probably just tell them that Jesus agreed that I shouldn’t make a better clock and had thus removed the knowledge to do so from my brain and see how that goes…

    • I guess if you get your hands cut off then maybe you can still dictate how to make an identical clock to someone else and be able to look at it and then have someone else make the adjustments? I’m not really sure I understand the rationale… but it’s now going in all contracts ” No matter how good the blog post, you are not entitled to gouge out (or otherwise maim me) after payment has been received.” x

  • What an amazing view – so atmospheric with that mist! To be fair on the eye-gougers, the astronomical clock really is very beautiful – I’m a fan anyway 😉 perhaps I should apply the same logic to every shop I buy a particularly loved item from in the future? x

  • Georgina

    I definitely visited this place when I was in Gdansk earlier this year! it was -10 degrees when I was there though so I didnt get many photos haha x

    • Oof – oh man, that’s super rough! (And far, far, far too cold). It was around 5/6ish when i was there and I thought that was too cold! x

  • I think I’ve mentioned before, in every city I go to I try to climb up the tallest building you’re allowed! I’m still regretting not going up the one in Copenhagen. Churches are normally the ticket though, and that’s super cheap compared to some to go up.

    • Which is the one in Copenhagen? (I’m planning a future trip so let me know if you have any suggestions!) x

      • I think it was called church of our saviour spire, it was really pretty with gold detailing and you could see it from most places.

  • Beautiful photos, and what a gory history! I’ve been all around Poland, and the Baltic coast, Gdansk and Sopot are some of my favorite haunts.

    • I didn’t get the chance to go out to Sopot and I really regret it! But it’s the perfect excuse for a return visit! x

  • Wow even in the fog it’s quite the view from up there!