The church of Saints Peter and Paul in the Old Town district was built between 1597 and 1619 and is a fine example of sacral Polish Baroque architecture. It is the biggest of the historic churches of Krakow in terms of seating capacity. Since 1842 it has served the Catholic Congregation of All Saints. In 1960 the church was raised to the rank of a smaller basilica.
The church of Saints Peter and Paul was the first structure in Krakow designed entirely in the Baroque style, and perhaps the first Baroque building in present-day Poland. It was funded by King Zygmunt III Waza for the Jesuit order. The church was ceremonially consecrated on 8 July 1635.
The plan of the church as a cruciform basilica was drafted by an Italian architect Giovanni de Rossi. His design was carried out by Józef Britius at first (from 1597), and then modified by Giovanni Maria Bernardoni. The final shape of the present day façade, the dome and its Baroque interior belong to Giovanni Battista Trevano, who completed them in the years 1605–1619. In the years 1809–1815, at the time of the partitions of Poland, the place of worship served as an Orthodox church. Since 1842 until now, it belongs to the Roman Catholic Congregation of All Saints.
The church interior has a broad, single-nave with two aisles consisting of chapels, as well as the transept with a dome at the intersection, and a short rectangular chancel around the altar, with a semicircular apse covered with a hemispherical vault. The façade of Saints Peter and Paul basilica was constructed with dolomite and in its niches are statues of Jesuit saints.
The church resembles that of the church of Santa Susanna in Rome by Carlo Maderno and it contains similarities with the façade of the main Jesuit church of Il Gesù. The aforementioned statues of Jesuit saints portray Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Aloysius Gonzaga, and Stanisław Kostka. Above the main portal, there’s the emblem of the order of Jesuits with saints Sigismund of Burgundy and Ladislaus I of Hungary. In front of the church there are several plinths with raised sculptures of apostles designed by Kacper Bażanka. They were made with limestone and completed in 1722 by Dawid Heel. Today, in place of the original 18th-century statues, which were very much damaged by acid rain, there are contemporary copies made of the same material by Kazimierz Jęczmyk.
The interior lighting is subordinate to the Baroque dramatization of liturgy and focused on the priest celebrating Holy Mass. The side pillars supporting the dome were supposed to create the impression of a theatre stage inside. Among the accessories in the interior, a sarcophagus of Bishop Andrzej Trzebicki from the late 17th century stands out prominently.
Every Thursday, inside the church, demonstrations are held of the longest Foucault pendulum in Poland (46.5 metres), suspended for the popular display of the Earth’s rotation. Named after the French physicist Léon Foucault, the experimental apparatus consists of a tall pendulum free to swing in any vertical plane.
The actual path of the swing appears to rotate, while in fact the plane is fixed in space, but the Earth rotates under the pendulum once a sidereal day. It is a simple and easy-to-see proof of the Earth’s movement. The pendulum weighs 25 kg and is fitted with a red laser marking a clock face at the floor. It takes about an hour to notice a significant difference in its path, and the explanation is provided in Polish.