Collegium Maius – Krakow, Poland - Atlas Obscura

Collegium Maius

Poland's oldest surviving university building holds a wealth of historic science instruments including some used by Copernicus. 


Located in part of what is now Jagiellonian University, the Collegium Maius (“Great College” in Latin) has been a hub of scientific research and discovery for hundreds of years, counting among its many famed students Nicholas Copernicus himself, whose instruments are still on display.

The college building’s current incarnation was created in the 15th century as part of what was at the time the Krakow Academy. The building was designed around a central courtyard which was eventually fitted with a well. The courtyard level is ringed with arches that led to the various teaching and lecture areas while the second floor was reserved for the professors’ quarters. Inside the building was decorated in an ornate baroque style with intricate woodwork and filigree all around. Subjects covered were heavily focused on science and the secrets of astronomy and the facility was kitted out with all the finest instruments of the day.

Among the luminary minds that studied at the college, none stands as tall as Nicholas Copernicus, the man that dared put the sun as the center of the universe as opposed to the Earth.

In the early 20th century the space was turned into a museum displaying the college’s historic architecture and, even more intriguing, their impressive collection of 16th century scientific equipment. Throughout the sumptuously outfitted rooms are a number of cases filled with astrolabes, telescopes, globes, clocks, weights, and more, much of which was used by Copernicus himself. Touring the site is about as close as one might hope to get to doing homework with Copernicus himself.      

From Around the Web