You are currently viewing Wadowice the Hometown of Pope John Paul II

Wadowice the Hometown of Pope John Paul II

Discover Wadowice

Wadowice, located in southern Poland, is a charming town known as the birthplace of one of
the most significant figures of the 20th century, Pope John Paul II. A visit to Wadowice is an
excellent opportunity to learn more about the life of the Polish pope and explore the town’s
rich history and cultural heritage.

History of Wadowice

Wadowice is a town with a long history, dating back to the 14th century. Over the centuries, it
was part of various kingdoms and empires, including Poland, Austria, and the
Austro-Hungarian Empire. During World War II, Wadowice was occupied by Nazi Germany
and suffered significant destruction. After the war, the town was rebuilt, and it is now a
popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

Discovering Wadowice

One of the must-see places in Wadowice is the childhood home of Karol Wojtyła, who later
became Pope John Paul II. The modest house, located in the town center, has been turned
into a museum dedicated to the life and legacy of the pope. Visitors can see the room where
he was born, his family’s living quarters, and personal belongings, such as photographs,
letters, and clothes.
Another important place to visit is the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This beautiful church, built in the 18th century, is where Karol Wojtyła was baptized and
attended mass as a child. The basilica’s interior is decorated with colorful frescoes and
sculptures, and it is a perfect example of Baroque architecture.
In addition to the museum and the church, Wadowice has many other attractions worth
seeing. The town square, Rynek, is a bustling hub of activity, with numerous cafes, shops,
and restaurants. There is also a local market where visitors can sample traditional Polish
food and buy souvenirs.

Why Choose a Guided Tour?

To fully appreciate the beauty and significance of Wadowice, it’s recommended to take a
guided tour. A professional guide will provide insights into the town’s history and culture, as
well as the life of Pope John Paul II. Moreover, a guided tour takes the hassle out of planning
transportation and finding your way around, allowing you to focus on enjoying your visit.
In conclusion, Wadowice is a beautiful town with a rich history and cultural heritage. Whether
you are a history buff, a religious pilgrim, or simply someone who loves exploring new
places, Wadowice is a must-visit destination. And by choosing a guided tour, you can make
the most of your visit and leave with lasting memories of this charming Polish town.

It’s better to book tickets in advance to avoid problems with availability.



The tenement house at No 7 Kościelna Street (formerly No 2 Rynek) was built around 1870. It used to belong to Seweryn Kurowski, a chemist and deputy mayor of Wadowice. In 1905, the house became the property of Józef Lisko, a confectioner, who – six years later – sold it to a Jew, Chaim Bałamuth, a merchant and president of the local Jewish community as well as a town alderman. There, Bałamuth ran a hardware store facing the Square, and Adolf Zadora had a bookbinding workshop in the back while upstairs flats were rented out to lodgers.

Wojtyla family

In 1919, Karol Wojtyła Sr., his wife Emilia Kaczorkowska and their 13-year-old son Edmund moved in, taking up two rooms and a kitchen. Their second son, Karol Józef (the future Holy Father John Paul II) was born there on May 18, 1920 and lived there for the next eighteen years. During that time, he lost both his mother who died in 1929 and his brother Edmund who passed away in 1932. Together with his father he left Wadowice in 1938 to study at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, majoring in Polish.
Their old home had undergone many changes: a parquet floor replaced the old painted boards; the doors connecting an enfilade suite of rooms were moved from close to the windows to the center of the walls; a new door opened to the balcony now; two windows (overlooking the church) were walled up; and finally, three more rooms were added.
The idea to set up a museum dedicated to the Pope was first conceived by Rev. Prelate Edward Zacher, Ph.D., long serving the Holy Father as his religion teacher and a parish priest in Wadowice, and His Eminence Franciszek Cardinal Macharski. Before the museum could be established, it was necessary to find substitute flats for the lodgers.
Father Zacher proved very helpful in handling the formalities while the Metropolitan Curia of Cracow and the Wadowice Town Council both offered their support. By 1980, most lodgers had moved out making it possible to undertake major renovation of the building in 1981-1982. The house was very dilapidated and required reinforcing the floors, replacing the wooden balcony with a concrete one, replacing the windows and laying a new parquet floor.
On May 18, 1984 – John Paul II’s 64th birthday – the exhibition in the Holy Father John Paul II Family Home was ready.

As only very few original fixtures and furniture of the Wojtyłas’ flat survived, the exhibition had the character of a rather permanent biographical display. Its objective was to portray and preserve for posterity the life and works of Karol Wojtyła in Poland before he became the Bishop of Rome. The exhibition consisted of John Paul II’s personal belongings and chronologically arranged papers, handwritten documents, books and photographs. The most valuable exhibits included: a picture – the First Holy Communion keepsake; a scapular presented to young Karol Wojtyła by the Carmelite Fathers of Wadowice on “Górka”; a picture taken at his first Holy Mass Service with his autograph; two rosaries of the Holy Father (one given to him by Sister Lucia of Fatima); his cardinal’s garment; the papal garment which he put on immediately after being elected the Pope. The exhibition was designed by Marek Rostworowski.
In 1998, two more rooms were added to the permanent exhibition to showcase a composition of photographs arranged so as to symbolically depict Pope John Paul II and his homeland. The photographs were taken during the Holy Father’s three visits to Wadowice and at the 20th anniversary of his appointment to the Holy See.

The museum, run by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, became very popular with pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.

Museum reconstruction

After the famous papal speech in Wadowice, in June 1999, Chaim Bałamuth’s heir decided to put the townhouse up for sale. In March 2006, the Ryszard Krauze Foundation bought it and donated it to the Archdiocese of Krakow. Together with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, it was decided to create a modern museum to perpetuate and popularize the heritage of the Polish Pope. For the next two years, intensive work was carried out on the concept for the reconstruction of the museum.
On October 16, 2009, a letter of intent was signed in Cracow, establishing a cultural institution called the Family Home Museum of the Holy Father John Paul II in Wadowice. The letter was signed by representatives of the Organizers: the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Malopolska Province, the Archdiocese of Cracow and the Municipality and Town of Wadowice.

A year later, on October 5, 2010, a Deed of Foundation was signed in Wadowice, initiating the preparation of a new Museum exhibition, which will serve to commemorate, preserve and disseminate the heritage and life of John Paul II – a moral authority for the modern world. The unit, in its assumptions, will inspire cultural, civic, trade union, local government, social and European initiatives with a universal dimension, and actively participate in the construction of a national identity based on Christian values.

Book the tour here ➡