Collegium Maius

Collegium Maius Of the
Jagiellonian University

Collegium Maius (the Great College) is the oldest building of the Jagiellonian University. Nowadays, it houses a museum with exceptional exhibits depicting the history of the Krakow school.

The Collegium Maius edifice on the corner of Jagiellońska Street and St. Anne Street was purchased in 1400 by king Władysław Jagiełło for the Jagiellonian University. The monarch’s purpose was to use of the money bequeathed by the late Queen Jadwiga to renew the educational grant of king Casimir the Great which started the existence of the school in 1364. During the 15th century, adjacent buildings were attached to Collegium Maius, resulting in a huge edifice with a beautiful courtyard surrounded by Late-Gothic galleries. The ground floor contained lecture halls, and in the first floor was the so-called Stuba Communis – a common meeting and dining room – as well as professors’ apartments and libraries. In the late 1830s, a decision was made to rebuild Collegium Maius. The works were managed by Karol Kremer, a famous architect and Gothic enthusiast from Krakow, followed by Austrian architect Herman Bergmann. After a long renovation, both the facades and interiors of the building gained a Neo-Gothic character. Until 1940, Collegium Maius was housing the Jagiellonian Library. After World War II, the edifice was supposed to regain its original appearance from the turn of the 15th and the 16th century. Karol Estreicher was entrusted with renovation works that lasted until the middle of the 1960s, when Collegium Maius became the seat of the Jagiellonian University Museum.

Nowadays, especially worth seeing are the magnificent Collegium Maius arcades with diamond vaults. There is a well in the middle of the courtyard, and antique staircases (the bigger one is dubbed the Professors’ Stairs) lead to the first floor. A visit at the museum is a passionate journey through the history of the Jagiellonian University. Scientific instruments include an 11th-century Arabic astrolabe, the equipment that enabled Karol Olszewski and Zygmunt Wróblewski to liquefy air in 1883, and 16th-century terrestrial globes made by Gerardus Mercator. The Museum also houses collections of early modern western European paintings, Medieval, Baroque and early modern sculptures, and handicraft items. There is also a collection of old photographs depicting the historic sites of Krakow as well as portraits of professors and other distinguished people of arts and sciences.

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