The Eagle Pharmacy

5th Mar 2020

pharmacy

Between 1941 and 1943 on the area of Podgórze district existed a ghetto for Kraków Jews, set up by Germans to accumulate all Jewish people in one place.

By March 20, 1941 3,500 of non-Jewish, called 'Aryans' were forced to leave their homes and move to other parts of Kraków. In their place, 16,000 of Jews were transferred to the area between the Vistula River, Podgórze Place, Krzemionki and the Kraków-Płaszów railway line. Also Jewish institutions, such as the Judenrat, the Jewish self-help, the Jewish hospital, the orphanages and nursing homes were moved to the Jewish quarter. The ghetto area was enclosed by 3-metre walls and was guarded by German police (from the outside) and Jewish police (from the inside). There was only one tram line number 3 which ran through the ghetto but with no stops on the way. This area was destined to be cut off from the rest of the world.

The Eagle Pharmacy, established by Józef Pankiewicz in 1909 in the house number 182, found itself within the ghetto's boundaries. Józef's son Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who run the pharmacy from 1934, got official permit from Germans to keep his pharmacy open, which was unique in the occupied Europe. He managed to convince the authorities that his pharmacy is the only one in ghetto and it needs to be open in case of an epidemic. In this way Pankiewicz became the only non-Jewish person allowed to live permanently on Jewish territory.

During the war, the pharmacy provided shelter and help to the people leaving in ghetto. From the beginning of ghetto's existence, it was a secret meeting place for ghetto's elite which commented on war announcements, read the underground press and held political discussions. The eagle pharmacy was a place of communication with the Aryan world. They smuggled here money, letters and information. Naturally it would be impossible if not the support from the pharmacy's staff – Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his co-workers, such as Irena Droździkowska, Helena Krywaniuk, Aurelia Danek-Czort, who actively participated in helping Jews locked in the ghetto.

Plac Zgody, currently under the name Bohaterów Getta Square, was the main spot of deportations for Jews from Kraków Ghetto. Pankiewicz and his personnel were the eye-witnesses of these violent events. Being aware that the Jews chosen for deportations ended up in death camps, they tried to help them through hiding them in the pharmacy. It was possible thanks to the back door, officially allowed only for staff members. For those who could not have been rescued, the pharmacy was the last point of contact, where they could leave a goodbye message for their families.

Pankiewicz was on duty in his pharmacy for the full period of ghetto's existence – continuously for 2,5 years. His memories from those times was published in the book 'Apteka w getcie krakowskim' (eng.The Pharmacy in the Kraków Ghetto), which is an eyewitness account of Kraków Jews' Holocaust. In 1983 Israel honoured Tadeusz Pankiewicz with the Righteous Among the Nations Medal. Mgr Tadeusz Pankiewicz died on November 5, 1993 and was buried on Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków.

Since April 22, 1983 the premises of the former Eagle Pharmacy at 18 Bohaterów Getta Square has housed a National Memorial Museum devoted to history of Holocaust of Kraków Jews and Tadeusz Pankiewicz. In 2002 the film director Roman Polański gave the money he received for winning Golden Sceptre Award of the Polish Culture Foundation to the Eagle Pharmacy. The exhibition Tadeusz Pankiewicz's Pharmacy in the Kraków Ghetto consists of 6 sections presented in the former pharmacy rooms, equipped with reconstructed furniture and vessels. This display takes you back in time to show the reality of Jewish people's existence during the war.

KL Płaszów

28th Feb 2020

plaszow

Kraków has been recognized as a historic, cultural and university city on the map of the world. It is hard to believe that only a few kilometers from the Old Town of Kraków there was a concentration camp, where thousands of prisoners of different nationalities were being unjustly imprisoned and murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

KL Płaszów was a Nazi German Labour Camp for Jewish people, created in October 1942 in Kraków-Płaszów, which later became a concentration camp. It was located on the site of the pre-war Jewish cemeteries from 1887 and 1932, which were devastated for this purpose, and occupied the area between Wielicka and Swoszowicka streets. As other concentration camps, Płaszów was guarded by barbed wire and numerous watchtowers as well as SS soldiers. On January 1944 this labour camp was transferred into Płaszów Concentration Camp.

Originally intended for 4,000 Jews from Krakow Ghetto, which was liquidated on March 1943, in the peak period of 1944 the camp was inhabited by even 25,000 prisoners. Both Poles and Jews were imprisoned there, but they lived in separate sectors. There were about 1,000 Polish prisoners until August 1944 but this number grew rapidly after the Warsaw Rising. However, the majority of the prisoners were Jewish people. They worked very hard in a quarry, owned by the trade company Liban&Ehrenpreis. Apart from that, they were employed in sewing uniforms for SS soldiers and printing various documents and orders of Nazi regime, at vehicle workshops, carpentries, blacksmith's shops and stables. Sometimes prisoners worked outside the camp, in sub-camps located by large production plants. One of them was a nearby Enamel Factory of Oscar Schindler known from the famous movie of Steven Spielberg Schindler's List.

One of the ways to start the visit in the Płaszów camp is from the 'grey house' at Jerozolimska Street. The grey house was built in the 1920s as a house for cemetery's workers. During existence of the camp, it housed the office of the Camp Commandant Amon Goeth but also other camp's SS officers such as Hujar, Zdrojewski, Landsdorfer, Ekert and Glaser used to reside there. In addition, the cellar of the building served as a camp prison, where the soldiers used to torture the camp's prisoners. The prisoners of Płaszów were well aware that once someone was imprisoned in this infamous torture chamber, they would never see him again. Unchanged since the war, the grey house holds communal flats today and there are plans to organize a memorial site there. While shooting the Schindler's List, the grey house was presented as a villa of Amon Goeth.

On February 1943 SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Goeth became a commander of the Płaszów camp. Through his behaviour towards prisoners, Goeth made himself a reputation as extremely cruel and merciless person, who was responsible for many executions. His aim was to set an example to his subordinates and teach them how to treat prisoners. Goeth used to work at the grey house, but he spent his private time at the villa located only a few metres further on Heltmana 22 Street. Commandant Amon Leopold Goeth was arrested on September 1944 by German authorities and charged with corruption and violating the regulations. Only after the war Goeth was imprisoned again by Americans and recognized as war criminal. Delivered to Poland, in 1946 he was found guilty of genocide and sentenced to death by hanging. The verdict was carried out on September 13, 1946 in Kraków. The last words of Goeth were: 'Heil Hitler!'

KL Plaszów claims many victims. Jews were killed there by means of starvation, beating, diseases, hard labour and executions. There are a few mass graves on the site of the camp with thousands of dead bodies. At the end of 1943 the authorities of the camp had planned to set up gas chambers and crematorium there but finally the ideas were not realized. They murdered the prisoners by shooting instead. The most popular place of execution was a 6-metre deep hole Hujowa Górka, named after the SS-man and executioner Albert Hujar. The exact number of victims of KL Płaszów is hard to state but it is estimated that during the period of the camp activity approximately 30,000 prisoners were murdered there.

Apart from that, a great number of Płaszów prisoners were being sent to Auschwitz. After liquidation of the camp, the last group of about 600 prisoners from Płaszow were sent on foot to Auschwitz Birkenau on January 14, 1945. To cover their crimes, Nazis forced the prisoners to dig out the bodies and burn them. Those prisoners who were able to walk were taken westwards – those who were to weak were shot in the camp. Around 2,000 people survived the evacuation from Płaszów. On January 18, 1945 KL Płaszów was taken over by the Red Army.

While following Schindler's traces, one should end the tour in front of the memorial to the Płaszów camp victims, which is visible from the distance. The monument was created in 1964 to commemorate all the victims murdered by Nazis in Płaszów Concentration Camp. Out of 225,000 Jews living in Kraków voivodeship before World War II, only 15,000 survived the Holocaust. The names of the survivors can be found at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warszawa.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

14th Feb 2020

wielblog

Wieliczka Salt Mine is a real gem of the southern Poland and a must see tourist attraction while staying in Kraków. The numbers speak for themselves - in 2018 the salt mine was visited by almost 1,75 million people from over 170 countries, which is a new record of this place.

Clearly, fame of Wieliczka grows from year to year and tourists are not intimidated by the 800 steps which they need to climb during their adventure. Everyone wants to see the salt deposits which were formed about 13,6 million years ago. The underground Tourist Route was created at the turn of 18th and 19th centuries and continued to be expanded over the years. Spread over nine levels, the mine has 245 km of tunnels, but only 2% of the labyrinth was made available for tourists, who cover the distance of about 3 km. Going down into the depth of 135 meters, they can admire wonderful salt sculptures, underground saline lakes and visit 20 magnificent chambers, including the most impressive Chapel of St. Kinga. Being the most remarkable chamber on the route, it astonishes with its size, crystal chandeliers hanging over visitors’ heads and biblical scenes presented on the walls.

According to a local legend, the emergence of salt in Wieliczka town is due to a Hungarian Princess Kinga, who lived in 13th century. Having married the Duke of Kraków Bolesław Wstydliwy, Kinga was gifted by her father with a mine located nearby Marmarosz town. Unable to take her marriage gift with her to Poland, she dropped into one of the mine shaft her engagement ring. On arrival to Kraków, Kinga ordered the miners, who were brought with her to Kraków, to dig in the ground in search for her jewel. In this way the miners came across the first lump of rock salt in Poland with Kinga's ring inside it. It has been believed that this ring brought salt from Hungary to Poland and for this reason Kinga has been recognized as one of the patrons of miners.

But there is also more realistic way of explaining the discovery of salt mines on Polish land. In the distant past, during the neolithic period, salt used to be extracted from local springs through heating their salty water, so-called brine, in small clay pots. In fact, Wieliczka is the place where the oldest vessels in Central Europe designed for salt extraction was excavated. This valuable competence of salt acquiring was passed down for generations - this art was extremely appreciated as salt was essential for preservation of meat and fish. However, at the turn of 11th and 12th centuries, surface salty waters began to dry up and there was an urgent need to seek for brine underground. As a result, they started to construct wells. When such a well was successfully dug, salt water was drawn and heated just like before. One time while digging such a well, the first blocks of rock salt were found. This accidental discovery of 13th century revolutionized the method of salt extraction forever. Within the same century the first mine shaft was hollowed out.

The development of salt industry in the area of Wieliczka town falls within a period of Kazimir the Great reign. It is important to mention that the incomes from salt excavations in Wieliczka constituted even 1/3 of all the incomes the royal treasury. The huge profits from salt mining made it possible for the king to found the first higher educational institution in Poland – the Krakow Academy. At the end of the Middle Ages, about 300-350 miners were employed in Wieliczka Salt Mine and even 7-8 tonnes of salt were produced there every year. The salt mine began to grow in popularity and therefore the first visitors were allowed to visit the underground city. It was recorded that the very first guest of the mine was Nicolaus Copernicus, who, in all likelihood, paid a visit there in 1493. Until 18th century salt in Wieliczka was acquired not only from salt blocks but also from brine. It was only in 1724 when salt evaporation was abandoned and mining methods were used exclusively. The number of tourists were constantly increasing and Wieliczka became recognizable on the map of Europe, being more often mentioned in European literature and appreciated by various great researchers and travellers.

The year 1978 proved to be a breakthrough for the reputation of the mine in the world, because this is when Wieliczka was included into the World Cultural and Natural Heritage UNESCO List. In 1996 a decision was made to cease production of salt in Wieliczka Nevertheless, there are still several hundred miners who work underground every day and make sure that the mine is a safe place for tourists. In addition, they still improve this place – renovate historic chambers and expand the tourist route – to keep it in good condition for next generations and attractive for the tourists. And it surely is: salt cauliflowers on the walls, stories of mine ghosts and numerous multimedia presentations highlight the beauty of Wieliczka Salt Mine and encourage to explore the mysteries of this underground world.

Elvis Presley Monument

5th Feb 2020

elvis

While wandering about Skałki Twardowskiego city park in Zakrzówek district or relaxing by Zakrzówek Lagoon, it is worth to explore a bit more of this area to stumble upon a beautiful monument of Elvis Presley.

Walking down along Pietrusińskiego street towards Skałki, you will soon realize that you find yourself in Elvis Presley Avenue which has existed in Kraków since 2005. It is quite extraordinary, since Kraków is the only place apart from Memphis with the Elvis Avenue like that. Being 300 metres long, the alley leads to the spot where the monument devoted to the Rock'n'Roll king is located.

Revealed on June 2005 on the Music Days of Kraków, the statue was erected to commemorate the life of the legend. However, the location for it was not chosen at random. Skałki Twardowskiego is where Polish fans of Elvis used to gather in the 70. The initiative of renaming the avenue after Elvis Presley was undertaken by various organisations, such as Polish Association of Extracurricular Interests, Royal Elvis Club 'Good Luck Charm' and Organizing Committee 'Elvis Presley's Avenue'. It was believed that the talent of the King needs to be remembered and his attributes, such as hard work, selflessness and kindness towards people should serve as a role model. On every anniversary of his death, Presley's fans continue to meet by the statue to recall his legend and perform his songs.

Elvis Presley is the icon of popular culture and the owner of one of the most recognizable voices of all time. The King of Rock'n'Roll is famous for performing country music, rhythm and blues as well as gospel for which he won three Grammy Awards. His romantic ballads rapidly won hearts and minds of audience all over the world.

The Rock'n'Roll king died on August 16, 1977 at his mansion in Memphis, being only 42. In the last years of his life, Presley suffered from depression, was resigned and discouraged from music. He was increasingly getting fat and used to abuse his organism by taking alternately sleeping pills and stimulating drugs. The direct reason for the death of Elvis was a cardiac arrest. To this day the residence of the King remains a destination of people who keep believing that Elvis Presley is still alive

The Liberation of KL Auschwitz

17th Jan 2020

wyzwolenie

27 JANUARY 2020

January 27, 2020 is the day of 27th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The major international commemoration will take place at the place of former Nazi German Concentration and Extermination Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim. The motto of this year's event is: 'We have a dark premonition, because we know', which are the words of the former prisoner Załmen Grabowski - a Polish Jew, who was killed during the revolt of Sonnderkommando.

Among many important persons who were invited to attend the ceremony, former prisoners of Auschwitz Concentration Camp will be undeniably the most honoured guests. It is supposed that about 200 of them will be present at the event, including the citizens of Poland, US, Canada, Israel, Australia and other European countries. The invitation was confirmed also by the representatives of numerous European countries, such as Germany, Austria, Spain, Greece, Sweden and United Kingdom, but also Israel and Australia. The schedule of the anniversary include speeches of former prisoners of Auschwitz, the speech of the director of the Auschwitz Memorial Dr. Piotr Cywiński and paying respects to the Victims at the monument in Birkenau. All the individuals as well as the organized groups who have no invitations but wish to participate in the event, will be allowed to get only into sector BI of the former Birkenau camp. After the official part of the ceremony is over, the visitors from the sector BI will be given the opportunity to come closer to the Memorial and pay tribute to the Victims.

EVACUATION

As a result of threatening situation on the East front, on August 1944 Nazis started to prepare liquidation of the camps. From August 1944 by mid-January 1945 about 65 000 male and female prisoners, including almost all the Poles, Russians and Czechs, were evacuated from the KL Auschwitz into the depths of the Third Reich. In the meantime, on the autumn 1944 camp's authorities decided to kill all the workers of Sonnderkommando, since they were eye-witnesses of the Nazi crimes. This decision provoked the famous revolt of Sonderkommando's members, who, being aware of their fate, tried to strike back.

Ultimately on January 17, 1945, when the Soviet army reached Kraków, Germans started the final liquidation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, which resulted in evacuation from KL Auschwitz and its sub-camps about 56 000 prisoners. These prisoners were forced to walk in the middle of winter dozens of kilometres to the western parts of Poland. The main evacuation routes of so-called Death Marches led through the Upper and Lower Silesia to Wodzisław Śląski and Gliwice towns, where the prisoners were transported further westwards by rail (in the direction of Austria and Germany). During the evacuation the SS guards shot mercilessly prisoners who tried to escape as well the ones who were too exhausted to follow the group. It can be estimated that even between 9 000 and 15 000 prisoners of KL Auschwitz died during the evacuation operation. However, Nazis managed to evacuate about 100 000 prisoners, who were further abused as slave labourers, as well as a large amount of loot which used to belong to the camp's prisoners.

LIQUIDATION

The next step was covering evidences of German crime. On January 20, 1945 Crematoria II and III were blown up and on January 26 Crematorium V was destroyed as well. On January 23, Canada II warehouse was set on fire. What's more, all the important documents including prisoners' files and registration forms were being burnt. However, the rush was the reason why Nazis failed to destroy all the things which could prove them guilty. At that time in Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II and other sub-camps there were still about 9 000 prisoners (including approximately 500 children), the majority of which were sick and extremely exhausted. These prisoners would certainly not get through hardships of evacuation, so the camp's authorities decided to murder them all. In the end, before the last columns of prisoners left the concentration camp, SS killed in the camp about 700 Jewish prisoners.

Most of the people abandoned in the camp managed to avoid this fate, which proves the great hurry of the escaping Nazis. After the evacuation, the situation of the prisoners left behind in the camp was nothing better that previously. They didn't have access to food and got cold in unheated rooms. For this reason, many of them tried to get into food warehouse on their own. This brave action very often resulted in a painful death from overeating, since famished organisms of captives were not ready for such a great dose of food.

LIBERATION

On the day January 27, 1945, Red Army soldiers stepped into Oświęcim. The troop of 60th Army of 1 Ukrainian Front were the first to reach Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The prisoners greeted the Soviet army, which in fact represented Stalinists regime, as real heroes and liberators. On arrival, the soldiers found about 600 corpses of prisoners who had been shot by SS men during the evacuation of KL Auschwitz as well as of those who died of exhaustion. But fortunately, in the Main Camp, Birkenau and Monowitz sub-camp about 7 000 prisoners lasted until liberation.

Those of them who needed no urgent medical aid were leaving the camp and coming back to their families. However, the majority of the prisoners was taken into custody and placed in provisional field hospitals, which were established on the area of liberated Birkenau camp. These hospitals functioned until October 1945, when most of the patients were discharged home and some of them moved to hospitals in Kraków.

The Procession of The Three Kings

3rd Jan 2020

orszak

After a big New Year's Party on the Market Square in Kraków, where the crowds of citizens and visitors were celebrating until dawn, no one dare say that the New Year 2020 was not welcomed appropriately. However, it is not the end of artistic events in the former capital city of Poland.

Like every year on January 6, the Procession of the Three Kings will go through the streets of Kraków to give their gifts and honour the Baby Jesus. But this year the event will be special, because it takes place for the 10th time! The jubilee procession, whose main theme is 'Miracles, miracles they're announcing!', will get through 3 different routes.

The red procession (called European) leaves from the Wawel Castle and it follows the Star of Bethlehem through Grodzka Street. The green procession, which symbolizes the Asian continent, leaves from Dębniki district and goes through Dębnicki Bridge, Planty Park and Szewska Street, whereas the blue procession (the African one) starts from Matejki Square and continues through Floriańska Street. As the custom is, all the processions eventually will meet on the Main Square, where the Holy Family will be waiting for them.

The Procession of Three Kings will be traditionally accompanied by numerous carol singers, children and youth dressed in costumes of knights and court ladies, musicians, as well as the legendary Lajkonik! The event will be culminated in Christmas play (Jasełka) and carolling on the Main Market Square. The procession will be also the opportunity to raise donations for charity, such as the St. Padre Pio Foundation.

The Procession of the Three Kings is considered as one of the biggest street Christmas pageant in the world. According to the data provided by the organizers, in 2019 this event was held in almost 800 places in Poland and abroad and it was attended by 1,2 million participants. In 2020, the Procession of the Three Kings will take place in 18 locations on different continents.

Krakow Christmas Market

16th Dec 2019

market

Krakow Christmas Market

Located on the Main Market Square in the Old Town, Krakow Christmas Fair is one of the greatest attractions of winter season in Krakow.

This year the Christmas Market operates from November 29th to January 7th, every day from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. We can proudly boast that Krakow Christmas Market was distinguished by CNN as being among the best 17 Christmas Markets all over the world. It is highly significant, since it was listed right next to New York and Florence Christmas Markets! Krakow Christmas Market is considered an absolutely magic place, especially when made silver by the first snowflakes.

Krakow Christmas Market is an annual, over a 100-year tradition. From the last week of November the square is decorated with hundreds of fairy lights and a massive Christmas tree. Then, half of the Main Square is filled with several dozen (around 80) wooden stalls which offers a variety of unique, regional products. The first category of goods pose handmade Christmas decorations, including hand-painted baubles, wreaths, wax candles and frosted gingerbread men. Availability of cheap antiques and jewellery as well as wooden, porcelain and ceramic articles makes this place a perfect destination to find Christmas gifts! Christmas Market is the only opportunity to try all the regional specialities in one place. The offer includes dumplings (pierogi), grilled smoked sheep cheese (oscypki), a loaf bread with special Polish lard and a pickle, grilled sausages, home-made cakes, multi flavour fudges and nuts roasted in caramel. Along with hot mulled wine with cloves (grzaniec) or honey wine, the proposal seems to be irresistible!

Apart from Christmas shopping, numerous artistic events take place on the Market Square. On the stage located nearby, you can admire live performances of artists singing Christmas carols. Every year on December 5th, Krakow Nativity Scene Contest takes place there. What's more, on Christmas Eve Krakow actors present 'Dziady Polskie' by Adam Mickiewicz Monument to celebrate the name day of this great poet, whereas on December 26th, people gathered around the Christmas tree sing together Christmas carols.

You may also like --> Krakow Christmas Music Concert

Kładka Bernatka

13th Dec 2019

kladka

Kładka Bernatka

Kładka Bernatka (eng. Father Laetus Bernatek Footbridge) is a hiking-biking bridge on Wisła River in Kraków which connects Kazimierz and Podgórze districts.

It is pretty new facility as it was delivered on 30 September 2010, being built on the site of former Most Podgórski (eng. Podgórski Bridge). Kładka Bernatka was named after father Laetus Bernatek - a monk, who at the turn of 19th and 20th centuries contributed to building the Hospital Order of Hospitalliers of St. John Grande in Kraków (pl. Szpital Bonifratrów). The bridge has a structure of 145-metre steel arch, to which two platforms are suspended (one for pedestrians, another for cyclists).

The whole construction weighs over 700 tonnes. Creation of this footbridge has strongly contributed to a cultural, social and touristic recovery of nearby streets on both sides of Wisła River and adjacent parts of the Wisła Boulevards. The most common destinations of the walkers are Rynek Podgórski (eng. Market Square of Podgórze district) and Park Bednarskiego in Pogórze, and Wolnica Square on the side of Kazimierz district.

Kładka Bernatka became another 'bridge of love', being inspired by other famous European Pont des Arts bridge in Paris as well as Polish bridges Most Tumski in Wrocław or Most Poniatowskiego in Warszawa. The idea is that lovers lock on the bridge railing a padlock which has the names or initials, a message of love and the date engraved on it. After that, they throw the key into the water as a sign that their feelings will never change. In this way, Kraków's 'Lovers Bridge' is loaded with hundreds of padlocks on both its sides. Here and there can be seen some destroyed parts of the railing, which presumably is a result of a bold attempt to remove an 'outdated padlock'. Unfortunately, actions like this are the main reason for poor condition of the railings. To repair them, all the padlocks need to be removed. Most certainly these proof of love can't be thrown out, since they are so meaningful for their owners. However, some new ideas come up to create a monument of love, which would be made entirely of the deleted padlocks.

Strolling through the bridge, there's no way not to look up, where the magnificent sculptures designed by Polish artist Jerzy Kędziora can be admired. The exhibition, which has been presented since the autumn 2016, is called 'Between the water and the sky'. Hanging on the ropes, the statues of nine acrobats dangle over the bridge, adding to its charm and making you feel like you were in some theatre. But the delights of this place don't stop here. The bridge offers a panorama of Kraków as well as Wisła River view, and its neighbourhood is rich in welcoming pubs and restaurants on both Kazimierz and Podgórze sides. On the south-east of the footbridge there is a monument of Juliusz Leo – the mayor of Kraków in the years 1907-1915 and an important figure of the city. Kładka Bernatka takes on a special character only after dark, when, highlighted from below, it creates a unique spot and one of the most photogenic object in the area.

The Grunwald Monument

27th Nov 2019

pomnik grunwaldzki na placu matejki w Krakowie

The Grunwald Monument

The Grunwald Monument [Polish: Pomnik Grunwaldzki] is an equestrian statue of the king Władysław II Jagiełło, erected in 1910 according to the project by Antoni Wiwulski and Franciszek Black. Placed on Jan Matejko Square in Kraków, it commemorates the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald in 1410.

The memorial was founded by the distinguished Polish pianist and future Prime Minister of Poland Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who established it 'for the glory of our forefathers and for brothers for courage' [Polish: 'Praojcom na chwałę braciom na otuchę] which has been engraved on the pedestal. Unfortunately, the Grunwald Monument was demolished in 1939 by Germans, and reconstructed only in 1976, following the design of Marian Konieczny. In front of the statue there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

On the day of 15 July 1410, on the plains nearby Grunwald village, one of the largest and bloodiest battles in the history of medieval Europe was fought. The allied Polish and Lithuanian forces, which were commanded by the king of Poland Władysław II Jagiełło and the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas, defeated the Teutonic Knights and German chivalry that was united with them. It was a total victory - the power of State of the Teutonic Order was broken and the Jagiełło dynasty was raised to the rank of the most important dynasties in Europe. For these reasons, the Battle of Grunwald is considered to be the most important triumph of Poland in her long and proud history.

The top of the 24-metre memorial is crowned with the statue of the king Władysław Jagiełło on his horse. In his right hand the king holds a naked sword. On the front wall there is a figure of Lithuanian duke Vytautas, who was Jagiełło's cousin, Underneath, dead Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights Urlich von Jungingen lies at duke's feet. The east side of the monument presents Polish knights who pick up Teutonic banners from the ground. On the west side, there is a Lithuanian warrior blowing his horn and holding a tied up Teutonic captive. Finally, the back wall of the monument features a Polish peasant who is breaking down his chains as a symbol of victory.

The construction of the memorial took place in the conspiracy, since Kraków was then the part of Austrian partition. At that time, Polish country didn't exist on the map of the world. It can therefore be said that the Grunwald Monument was created ''to lift up the hearts'' of Polish nation. The statue was solemnly revealed on July 15, 1910 at high noon. The ceremony was attended by 150,000 visitors as well as a great number of Kraków's citizens and the speeches were delivered i.a. by the mayor of Kraków Juliusz Leo and the founder of the monument Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

Due to its historical dimension and national importance, the Grunwald Monument was gradually being destroyed during the World War II. Eventually, in 1945 it was blown up with dynamite by the retreating Nazis and the dismantled figures were transported to Germany. Over the following years its place was empty and only on 6 October 1976 the Grunwald Monument was recreated in its former location. Fortunately, because in 2010 Poland was able to celebrate there the next round anniversary of the battle and 100th anniversary of the monument's foundation. Located right behind the Barbican and near Academy of Fine Arts, the monument stands as a symbol of struggle for Polish statehood and another must see position on the map of Kraków.

The Krakow Barbican

18th Nov 2019

Barbakan w Krakowie obok Bramy Floriańskiej

The Kraków Barbican

he Kraków Barbican is the element of medieval city's fortifications. Located in the centre of the Planty Park, just between the St. Florian's Gate and Basztowa Street, it is one of the most precious monuments of Kraków and one of the last remains of defensive structures in Europe.

Barbicans started to be built at the beginning of 15th century. They usually had a form of round, brick constructions which were situated outside the main line of defence and connected to the city walls. The principal role of the barbicans was to defend the main city gate. For this reason the walls of the building were provided with numerous loopholes, which gave the possibility of shooting up the enemies from the top.

The Barbican of Kraków was erected in the years 1498-1499 under the reign of Polish king Jan Olbracht, who feared the attack of Wallachian, Tatarian and Turkish enemies, threatening Kraków at that time. The king himself laid the cornerstone for the construction, whose main function was to protect the main city gate of St. Florian, which it was connected to. Built in the Gothic style in brick and stone, it had seven watch towers. The walls of 3 metres thick, which was surrounded by 30-metre-wide moat, made the barbican extremely difficult to get through.

Being the main northern entrance to the city, Barbican used to co-create the beginning of the famous Droga Królewska [E. the Royal Route]. It led from St. Florian Church, through Barbican, the Florian Gate, Floriańska Street, the Main Square by the Mariacki Church, then down Grodzka, Senacka and Kanonicza streets up to Wawel Castle. Droga Królewska was the historical coronation path as well as the funeral corteges of Polish monarchs. This is the way all the important foreign diplomats trod, and where Polish kings, returning after battles and being welcomed by the crowds of Kraków's citizens, used to come back to Wawel. For this reason Barbican was called The Gate of Glory (Porta Gloriae) of Kraków city.

Nowadays, Barbican stands as a museum and it poses a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków. It serves as a venue for multiple exhibitions. The 500-year-old fortification also features interesting sport events such as Polish championship in fencing or presentations of knight tournaments and court dances. Barbican is accessible for the tourists, who have the opportunity to get inside the building and become acquainted with the history of Kraków's defensive architecture.

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