Flora Cracovia Sacra

9 August 2023

Marek Mikos
Kraków Culture

Floral symbolism in sacral art is the leading theme of this year’s Cracovia Sacra Night, following a trail of treasures of Kraków’s art and architecture usually hidden from public eye.

Cracovia Sacra Night
14, 15.08.2023

Marek Mikos
Kraków Culture

Paradise as the garden of earthly delights, the tree of knowledge, the forbidden fruit… Plants have always abounded in Christian symbolism. The same could be said of Poland, since the roots of Christian art date back to the adoption of the new faith in 966, widely regarded as the birth of the Polish state. Kraków, one of the earliest settlements in these lands, is the perfect example. Plants and floral motifs can be found in churches and necropolises in all variants: living and growing in and around sacral buildings, cut, arranged in posies and bouquets and scattered during processions, and symbolically in sculptures, reliefs, ornaments, stained-glass windows, paintings and polychromes… Each church with columns can be perceived as a forest or orchard with the vaults symbolising the heavens. It would be all too easy to get lost in this jungle of natural, realistic and symbolic flora, so we have marked routes and the most important points along journeys through the fascinating world of Cracovia Sacra Night.

Kraków’s days and nights

Katarzyna Olesiak, director of the Department of Culture and National Heritage at the Kraków City Office, organisers of the event, says, “Kraków Nights started with Museum Night in 2004, linked with Poland’s entry into the EU. During the inaugural event, 12 museums opened their doors to visitors (the number is now over 60!), and the Ode to Joy resounded at midnight. In fact, the event was so popular, we decided to expand the project, and now Museum Night and Cracovia Sacra Night are accompanied by five others, exploring independent cinema, dance, theatre, jazz and poetry. In reality they are ‘Kraków Nights and Days’, to make sure the events can be attended by people who can’t join the lectures, workshops, performances and concerts held in the evenings and at night. This summer, visitors from Poland and abroad will witness extraordinary events and presentations as part of Jazz Night in July and Cracovia Sacra Night in August.”

The annual showcase of Kraków’s sacral heritage is traditionally linked with the date of the Assumption of Mary, which in Polish Catholic traditions coincides with harvest festivals. There’s plenty to choose from on 14 and 15 August!

“The event involves numerous churches and monasteries in Kraków, as well as many beyond the city boundaries. The Benedictine Sisters from Staniątki, the Benedictine Fathers from the abbey in Tyniec and the Cistercian Brothers from Mogiła have all been involved since almost the start,” explains Anna Kurzejowska from the Department of Culture and Heritage, coordinator of Cracovia Sacra Night. She adds that the project has also been joined by organisations such as the Archdiocesan Museum, the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre and the C.K. Norwid Cultural Centre.

Herbariums woven with music

Anna Kurzejowska mentions several events particularly worthy of our attention, including a concert by the Mazowsze Folk Song and Dance Ensemble featuring Marian songs (Altar of the Three Millennia, courtyard of the Pauline Church). She also adds Wyspiański’s Mystical Flowers (Franciscan Basilica). “The event has been organised as an opportunity to explore the extensive symbolism of floral motifs used by Stanisław Wyspiański in his designs of the stained-glass windows and polychromes at the Franciscan Basilica. It will be a combination of Wyspiański’s own literary commentaries with choral singing,” Kurzejowska says about the concert prepared by Cracow Singers under the artistic direction of Karol Kusz.

Let’s also mention the concert In Paradisum performed by the OCTAVA ensemble under the artistic direction of Zygmunt Magiera, And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden or the premiere performance by artists from Loch Camelot Theatre and the Auxilium Chamber Choir, Mary Adored with Herbs at the Św. Norberta Cellar, and The New Herbarium. The latter is sung by Joanna Słowińska, and her extraordinary vocal range is accompanied by the Stanisław Słowiński Acoustic Septet.

Silva rerum

An important element of Cracovia Sacra Night is the opportunity to see places and artwork not usually available to the public, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of the messages behind motifs in sacral art.

The exhibition Franciscan Treasure Trove includes a presentation of liturgical garments and paraments and early prints at the Hall of St. Eligiusz in the cloister of the Church of St. Francis, and the exhibition at the Carmelite Church presenting early prints and printing presses commemorating the 550th anniversary of the printing press in Poland. Visitors will be able to look around the museum and attend printing and calligraphy demonstrations and workshops. The Benedictine Sisters in Staniątki welcome visitors to enclosed sections of their convent and present an exhibition of vestments and early prints as well as the convent’s old book binding workshop.

The Dominican Museum, opened recently to mark the 800th anniversary of the order’s monastery in Kraków (founded in 1222 by St. Jacek Odrowąż), is a large exhibition space presenting a Romanesque brick wall on the ground floor and specially expanded mediaeval cellars. The museum’s greatest treasure is Poland’s oldest set of stained-glass windows, dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Returning to Cracovia Sacra Night’s leading theme, let’s also mention the gold monstrance from the monastery in Podkamień; decorated with many colours of vitreous enamel with a wreath, it was traditionally believed to be Queen Bona Sforza’s marriage ornament.

Silva rerum, or a forest of things, describes multigenerational chronicles of noble families, but it can just as easily be said to refer to the Dominican exhibition and the entire fascinating Cracovia Sacra Night.


Following the principles of Kraków nights, entry to all events is free. However, you’ll need to book your free entry passes to certain venues and events, available from around a week before the event from the InfoKraków Tourist Information Centre at 11 Powiśle Street.



Kraków Travel
Kids in Kraków
Close We use cookies to facilitate the use of our services. If you do not want cookies to be saved on your hard drive, change the settings of your browser.