Copernicus Treasury

For the Kraków University, the 15th century was a period of rapid development in mathematics and astronomy. Among the many young men who came to Kraków both from other parts of Poland and neighbouring countries were the brothers Andrew and Nicholas Copernicus. Their names can be found on the copy of the 1491 immatriculation list displayed on the wall in this room. They were students of the Faculty of Philosophy, also known as the Faculty of Liberal Arts.

The particularly valuable instruments displayed in this room include the donation of Professor Marcin Bylica of Olkusz: an Arabic astrolabe from Córdoba (1054), and a set of three astronomical instruments dating to the late 15th century: astrolabe, torquetum, and celestial globe. The benefactor was the court astrologer and physician in service of the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus in Buda. The instruments arrived in Kraków in 1493, at the same time when Nicholas Copernicus was a student at the local university. It seems more than likely that he witnessed them personally.

The room also features the facsimile of Copernicus’ manuscript titled De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On Revolutions of Celestial Spheres) and a photograph of the Earth with the signature of Neil Armstrong donated on the 500th birth anniversary of Nicholas Copernicus.