Dating back to the 14th century, the Collegium Maius (Latin for “Great College”) is the Jagiellonian University’s oldest building. The Collegium Maius Museum features lecture rooms, communal halls, professors’ quarters, a library and a treasury containing rectors’ Gothic maces and the Jagiellonian globe.
The Collegium Maius owns many unique exhibits of historical importance, among others mediaeval scientific instruments, globes, paintings, collectibles, furniture, coins and medals. In the 1490s the Collegium Maius counted among its students Nicolaus Copernicus, the Renaissance astronomer and polymath who would revolutionize European ideas about the universe.
In the early 15th century the first university in Poland, founded in 1364 and known at the time as Akademia Krakowska (the Krakow Academy), moved into the building after King Władysław II Jagiełło had purchased it as an educational grant with funds bequeathed by his late wife, Queen Jadwiga.
The Collegium Maius was rebuilt in the late 15th century as a late Gothic structure surrounding a large courtyard bordered with arcades. In 1517 a well was built in the centre of the courtyard. Professors lived and worked upstairs, while lectures were held downstairs.