Church of St. Francis of Assisi – Krakow, Poland - Atlas Obscura

Church of St. Francis of Assisi

Inside this Krakow church, an explosion of psychedelic color. 


European Roman Catholic churches are typically marked by their austere design. And while the exterior of St. Francis’ Basilica fits the mold, its doors open up to an explosion of color.

The church, among the first tall brick-and-sandstone built in Krakow, was originally consecrated in the 13th century. Hundreds of years, later, St. Francis’ Basilica found itself in the center of a very different city. Krakow became the center of the “Young Poland” art movement between 1890 and 1918, a modernist style that became known for its bombastic art nouveau style. The founder of the movement, Stanisław Wyspiański, won a contest to repaint the church and turned it into what is still the most original church design in Poland today. 

Taking inspiration from the connection between Francians and nature, Wyspiański covered the church in a polychrome, almost psychedelic style. Stars on the ceiling, floral motifs on the walls, and rainbow stained glass draw the eyes every which way.

As with any daring design, this style drew its fair share of controversy. But today, it’s become known for being one of the most stunning sites in the city.

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August 2, 2022

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