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Wednesday 30 April 2014

Churches and Convents

High alter by Veit Stoss in St. Mary's Basilica

St. Mary's Basilica - interior
30th April 2014

Cracow is said to be a city of a hundred churches. There is not slightest exaggeration in this statement. Today one can count as many as 119 churches in the city. The churches best represent the history of Cracow's architecture. Not only are Cracow churches and convents places of religious worship, they are homes to numerous historic mementoes and priceless works of art and culture.
Interior St. Mary's Church

Cracow used to be called "The second Rome" for the abundance of its churches and convents, the wealth of historical artifacts and works of art. Its museum collections, and for the role it has served for Christianity in this part of Europe.

Tuesday 29 April 2014


29 th April 2014

The history of Kazimierz began on 27 th February 1335. On that day, in Sandomierz King Kazimierz the Great signed the Chartering Act of town named after him. Currently a part of Cracow was then a separate administrative entity.

The town, chartered according to Magdeburg law, was situated on the right bank of the Old Vistula River. Kazimierz was an impressive time. Its Main Square with dimensions of 195x195 metres .
The history of Jewish Kazimierz begins in 1495 when the King Jan Olbracht, urged local burghers who wanted to get rid of competitors , banned all Jews from Cracow  and resettled them to the other side of the Old Vistula River. Soon , large groups of Jews , chased out from Germany, Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Italy and Spain found their new homeland here. They represented different traditions and customs, which caused controversies and religious disputes.

For centuries Kazimierz was known as the home of one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. WWII closed this chapter . The Nazis murdered almost 70 thousand Cracow Jews.

The German Nazis broke the continuity of the world  whose culture and civilisation was inscribed in the world's history. more recently, Kazimierz has formed the setting for Steven Spielberg's famous movie  - Schindler's List.

Monday 28 April 2014

Lady with An Ermine.

28 th April 2014

She was well-educated, liked to read poetry, was interested in arts. She also liked music, played the lute and sang beautifully. When her portrait was painted, Cecillia Gallerini was staying at he court of Duke Lodovico Sforza. This beautiful seventeen -year-old girl has given her ducal lover two good-looking sons. After the love was over, her lover gave her the girl a generous dowry. He found her husband and donated the dal Verne Palace. She passed away in 1536 at aged 68.

Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece was for long years part of the family collections.  The painting on chestnut wood ( 54,8 cmx40.3 ) was purchased by Adam Czartoryski in 1800 as a gift for his mother Izabella nee Fleming. Today the masterpiece requires a visit to the Czrtoryski Museum in Cracow.

The Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci./

The  most famous resident in Cracow

A date with this Lady requires a trip to Cracow.

Sunday 27 April 2014

The Jagiellonian Globe

 27 th April 2014

On May 1364, King Kazimierz the Great issued a privilege establishing the Stadium Generale, the first Polish university.

The Cracow school, referred to in that document as "the pearl of the prevailing sciences" is the second -oldest  university East of the Rhine, after  Prague's university, and is older than all extant German universities.
Originally the Academy was situated in Kazimierz ( suburb in Cracow). Later University moved to the existing Collegium Maius at the intersection of today's Saint Anny and Jagiellonska Street.

The Collegium Maius is ranked among the oldest Medieval university buildings in Europe.

In Collegium Maius among the numerous scientific instrument documenting the development of human thought and science is a globe, known as "Jagiellonian Globe". This instrument served for the determination of astronomical co-ordinates. It was probably manufactured in Northern Italy or Southern France in 1508. And it was the first such globe  in the history of  cartography to show America. It has the inscription which reads - AMERICA TERRA NOVITER REPERTA ( America the newly discovered land).

Saturday 26 April 2014


26th April 2014

The fortess built in 1498-1499 as the of the city  Northern outpost of the city fortifications, is an example of the highest standard of the art of defence It has a diameter 24.4 and its walls are more than 3 metres thick.

 The bastion has 130 firing position situated on four levels. The openings in the lower part were used by artillery.Fire was directed from the seven turrets protruding over the roof.

The Gothic structure was surrounded by a moat 3.4 metres wide.
 A long neck linked the Barbican  with the Florianska Gate, serving as the outpost defence.

In the second half of the 19th century August Essenwein a German researcher was the first to use the term "die Barbakane" - Barbican.
Throughout the centuries , the Cracow Barbican was also a Porta Gloriae, the Gate of Glory. Processions passed through its gate on royal processions and during visits of papal legats, foreign envoys and military leaders. It was the route of victorius armies, but also the funaral processions of kings , queens and national heroes.

The Barbican - a fortress during the wars, the Gate of Glory in times of peace.

Friday 25 April 2014

Arras tapestries

25 th April 2014
The Wawel Royal Castle, located by the Vistula river in Krakow, is one of the most important royal residences, as well as a symbol and a monument of Polish history and culture.
The first castle was erected on the Wawel Hill already in the 11th century. For over 500 years, until the capital was moved to Warsaw, Wawel was the main residence of the Polish rulers. During the reign of the Jagiellon dynasty, a complex of Romanesque buildings was rebuilt into a beautiful Renaissance residence.
In theWawel Castle there is a big collection  of wool-silk -woven paintings which have been named after Arras, a small town in the north of France. The first Arras tapestries were brought to Wawel Castle by Queen Bona. Later her husband King Zygmunt bought 18 tapestries in Antwerp.
In 16 th century there was 356 tapestries. The priceless collection dispersed all over the Europe. By various routes, Wawel tapestris reached Bari, Vienna, Stockholm, the court of Pope urban VII and France. After the partition of Poland in the 18th century, the collection was sent to Moscow folowing the order of Catherine II. They adorned the Tsars palaces in Petersburg, Moscow and Kremlin. They returned to Poland following the Treaty of Riga.

Tapestries present landscape,animals motifs and connected with a Bible. There are also heraldic compositions with monarchs.

During WWII the tapestries had a long Odyssey. Hidden from occupying Nazis, the travelled through Romania, France and England and finally reach Canada. Only 136 of them returned to their original location in 1961.
Luckily the Cracow collection is still one of the finest in the world. A collection of Arras are displayed in the Renaissance wing of the castle.

People, beasts and trees, even tiny plants ..... just Arras.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Wawel Cathedral

24 th April 2014

Wawel Cathedral is the largest necropolis of royalties and national heroes in this part of Europe.

The first Cathedral was built on Wawel Hill in 1000. Later in 1038 the Cathedral was destroyed by Czech invasion. And in 1320, a large Gothic cathedral began to be built on the remnants of both Romanesque structures. New interior details were added during the centuries that followed - altars, sacrophags,epitaphs, reliefs monuments and portals.

But what makes this place unique and special is the existence of a royal necropolis ranked among the largest in the world. The firs ruler to have been buried here Wladyslaw the Elbow-High died in 1333. Almost all Polish monarchs were in Wawel. The Cathedral and its vaults contain the tombs of kings, queens, their children, national heroes, great poets and church dignitaries.

The Sigmund Bell located in the Cathedral which measures the pace of the most significant moments in the nation's and city's history.

The Sigmund Bell - deatils.
Diameter2.42 m (8 ft)
 - yoke length3.08 m (10 ft)
Total height (incl. yoke)4.60 m (15 ft)
 - body and crown2.41 m (8 ft)
 - clapper length2.20 m (7 ft)
Volume1.2 m3 (42 cu ft)
Weight12,600 kg (27,778 lb)
 - body9,650 kg (21,275 lb)
 - clapper (with belt)365 kg (805 lb)
 - yoke2,160 kg (4,762 lb)
 - other parts425 kg (937 lb)
CasterHans Behem
MaterialsBronze (80% copper, 20% tin),iron (clapper),leather (clapper belt),oak (yoke)
 - installed13 July 1521
 - new clapper14 April 2001
Commissioned byKing Sigismund I of Poland
Musical noteF♯
Earshot30 km (19 mi)
Number of ringers12

The Wawel Cathedral

Wednesday 23 April 2014

The Cloth Hall

23rd April 2014

The Cloth Hall in Cracow is situated in the Main Market Square.  It is the oldest commercial Cloth Hall still in operation. Many Europeans cities used to have their own cloth halls, but only  Cracow has such an old trade centre which has survived and still continues to operate.
The first historic account about Cloth Hall can be found in the records by Ibrahim ibn Jacob from Cordoba. He wrote that Slav city on the Vistula River was a large  and important trade centre.
Great place to do shopping 

The Cloth Hall nowadays.

The Cloth Hall in 1879.

Who can tell you beauty oh Cracow, old town maybe the masks on the Cloth Hall .... (A. Polewka)