Arka Pana (The Lord’s Ark), formally dedicated to the Mother of God, Queen of Poland, was the first church erected in the new, entirely socialist city of Nowa Huta. Its history is connected with the Nowa Huta cross and the riots in defense of religious freedom. The church was consecrated in 1977 by Cardinal Karol Wołtyła, later Pope John Paul II. The church is meant to resemble Noah’s Ark.
After the end of Stalinist regime in 1956 and the subsequent political thaw, the communist authorities agreed to have a church built in Nowa Huta. Less than two years later, however, once the construction work had already begun, the permit was withdrawn. This caused protests and riots with militia in defense of religious freedom.
The church is topped with a 70-metre-high mast-cross. There are also seven doors leading to the church, which represent seven holy sacraments. The structure was designed by the architects Wojciech Pietrzyk and Jan Grabacki, with the design being influenced by Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp.