In which city will you find the largest Gothic altarpiece in the world?
The Altarpiece by Veit Stoss in Kraków is the largest Gothic altarpiece in the world and a national treasure of Poland. It is located behind the High altar of St. Mary's Basilica in Kraków. The altarpiece was carved between 1477 and 1489 by the German sculptor Veit Stoss (known in Polish as Wit Stwosz) who lived and worked in the city for over 20 years.
The Veit Stoss Altarpiece is about 13 m high and 11 m wide when the panels of the triptych are completely opened. The realistically sculptured figures are 2.7 metres high, each one was carved out of a tree trunk of lime (linden). Other parts of the altarpiece are made from oak wood, and the background is constructed of larch wood. When closed, the panels show 12 scenes of the life of Jesus and Mary.
In 1941, during the German occupation, the dismantled altarpiece was shipped to the Third Reich on the order of Hans Frank – the Governor-General of that part of occupied Poland. It was recovered in 1946 in Bavaria, hidden in the basement of the heavily bombed Nuremberg Castle. The High Altar underwent major restoration work in Poland and was put back in its place at the Basilica 10 years later.