According to chronicler Jan Dlugosz the first parish church at the Main Square in Kraków was founded in 1221–1222 by the Bishop of Krakow, Iwo Odrowaz. The church was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of Poland. Between 1290–1300 a second Early Gothic church was built on the remaining foundations.
The church was completely rebuilt under the reign of Casimir III (the Great) between 1355 and 1365. The vault (originally built in 1395) collapsed and was rebuilt. The presbytery was elongated and tall windows added. The nave was completed in 1395–97 and the new vault was constructed.
At the same time the northern tower was torn down and rebuilt to serve as the watch tower for the entire city. In 1478 the helmet on the tower was added. A gilded crown was placed on it in 1666, which is still present today.
In the first half of the 15th century, the side chapels were added.
In the years 1887–1891, additional neo-Gothic design was introduced into the Basilica.
Though the layers of beauty added throughout the centuries are impressive and make this basilica into a virtual jewel box, in my opinion, the most spectacular part of this fabulous interior are the star covered ceiling vaults, where a golden array of stars shine from a deep royal blue field.
The magnificent altarpiece was fortunately discovered by Count Emeryk Hutten-Czapski, of the Polish 1st Armored Division, and returned to Poland in 1946 where it presides behind the high altar of the opulent and impressive sacred space of St. Mary’s Basilica to this day.