Szeroka Street

2nd Aug 2019

ulica szeroka na kazimierzu w krakowie

Szeroka Street

Szeroka Street couldn't be called in any other way, since it is the widest street of Krakow (and 'szeroka' means wide in English). The street resembles rather a rectangular square, so that it was previously called Wielka Streat (E. Great Street). Jews started to live in Szeroka Street as a result of a decree of King Jan Olbracht from 1495 which required from Jewish people to leave Krakow and settle on Kazimierz district (see: THE ORIGIN OF JEWS IN KRAKOW). Cracovian Jews moved to the area of former Bawół village, whose centre was Szeroka Street and where the lives of inhabitants were focused.

The evidence for the importance of Szeroka Street for residents of Kazimierz is the fact that four different synagogues have been located there, which was unique on the European scale. At the turn of 15th and 16th century, the first synagogue called 'Old' was built. Old Synagogue is not only the oldest synagogue in Krakow but also within the whole territory of Poland. The second synagogue in Szeroka Street – Remu – has been established in 1557 next to already existing Remu cemetery which is known from the famous Wailing Wall, resembling the one in Jerusalem. In 1620 in Szeroka 16 the third, Wolf Popper Synagogue was built. Before II World War, just behind Old Synagogue there was the fourth synagogue called 'Na górce' (E. 'on a little hill'). In fact, it just housed prayer rooms and small mikveh in the basements. What's more, on the other side of the street - Szeroka 6, there is a monumental building of ritual bathhouse, called Great Mikveh. Mikveh existed on Kazimierz from 1567 for the needs of Jewish community in Krakow. Nowadays it has been rebuilt and it is available for visitors.

Entering Szeroka from the side of Miodowa Street, you have a rare opportunity to go back in time. Old shutters, displays and signboards, where you can read the names of former owners like Nowak, Holcer, Kac, Weinberg or Kohan, evoke the atmosphere of those days. The interiors of shops and workshops have been furnished in old style and hotels and restaurants try to hark back to Jewish tradition. Despite the fact that Szeroka Street is no longer Jewish property and the synagogues are closed, it is not uncommon to meet there some orthodox Jews who are following the footsteps of their ancestors.

Szeroka Street can be recognised in some scenes of famous Steven Spielberg's film - 'Schindler's List' – where it played Zgody Square of Krakow's ghetto, known today as Plac Bohaterow Getta (E. Ghetto Heroes Square). Finally, Szeroka is really famous for the final show of annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow – Szalom in Szeroka - which is held there on every June from 1996. Within 10 days of the festival, over 150 artists present modern music and the event gathers more than 30 000 viewers from all over the world.

Piwnica pod Baranami

18th Aug 2019

marketing exhibition of Piwnica pod Baranami

Piwnica pod Baranami

Piwnica pod Baranami is a cult cafe, famous drink bar, jazz club and, first of all, premises of the most popular literary cabaret in Poland! The Piwnica pod Baranami (E. The Basement under the Rams), which is the name of the cabaret too, was established in 1956 by Piotr Skrzynecki and a few other students of Krakow universities. Located in the basement of 'Pod Baranami' palace at the Main Market Square in Krakow, Piwnica Pod Baranami served as the most renowned political cabaret in the country, until the end of the communism era.

With the only break between 1962-1964, Piwnica still keeps functioning. At first, it was supposed to be a gathering place for Krakow students, under the name of Klub Młodzieży Twóczej. Soon, this student club turned into a cabaret and its first performance was presented on 16 December 1956. The performances of Piwnica pod Baranami involved different texts, from the Holy Bible and philosophical treatise to press releases and manuals. Scenography was made of unanimated objects, in the spirit of Marcel Duchamp. Costumes consisted of incomplete clothes, wigs and hats. During the show, banknotes and rags were thrown from the stage and the audience was pelted with chopped cabbage! On the stage of Piwnica pod Baranami professional actors and artists connected with Piwnica gave their performances, as well as special guests, who often were amateurs. Piwnica referred to Dadaism and surrealism.

At the turn of 50s and 60s, Piwnica pod Baranami became a really popular place. At the end of 50s, it was the centre of jazz music in Poland and many great Polish musicians like Tomasz Stańko started to give their concerts there. With time, the entourage of the cabaret was made up with other famous Polish artists and intellectuals including actors: Anna Dymna, Jan Nowicki, poets and writers: Czesław Miłosz, Sławomir Mrożek, Agnieszka Osiecka,Jacek Kaczmarski, director: Andrzej Wajda, and musicians: Marek Grechuta and Grzegorz Turnau. Piwnica freguently gave guest performances, i.a. in Cologne, Paris and Vienna.

Over the years the crucial figure of Piwnica Pod Baranami was its founder Piotr Skrzynecki. Skrzynecki was the embodiment of the underground style and one of the most important personality of Krakow, in 1994 he was awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of Krakow. After he died (1997), Society of Friends of Piwnica pod Baranami decided that Piwnica should continue to operate and they didn't stop performing. Today, Piwnica is one of the greatest cabarets in Poland. After almost fifty years of activity, the eccentric artists of Piwnica became iconic and the style of the cabaret functions in colloquial language as 'styl piwniczny' (the underground style).

The Słowacki Theatre

29th Aug 2019

Słowacki Theater in Krakow

The Słowacki Theater

The Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Krakow (Polish: Teatr im. Juliusza Słowackiego w Krakowie), built between 1891-1893 on Holy Ghost Square in place of the former Holy Ghost Church, ranks among the most precious relics of a theatre architecture in Europe.

The building, designed by Jan Zawiejski, is maintained in an eclectic style with the emphasis on Neo-Baroque. This 19th-century theatre-opera house was the first construction in Krakow, where electric lighting was installed. Originally, the theatre was called Municipal Theatre (Teatr Miejski) and only in 1909 it was named after Polish poet Juliusz Słowacki. The main facade is decorated with an inscription: Kraków Narodowej Sztuce - which means - Krakow For the National Arts. The interiors of the building are painted with frescoes by the Viennese artist Anton Tuch and embellished with a splendid curtain by Henryk Siemiradzki. The official opening of the new theatre was held on October 21, 1893 at midday and from that moment this place has been operating continuously. At the first spectacle, fragments of Mickiewicz, Słowacki and Fredro were presented. During the next five weeks only Polish repertoire was staged.

The choice of location for the Słowacki Theatre was not without heated arguments. Finally, after many disputes, the Holy Ghost Square was chosen, which resulted in demolishing of many historic buildings. The Holy Ghost Church and other architectural landmarks of this area were strongly defended by Jan Matejko himself. When his protests appeared to be fruitless, the artist renounced the honorary citizenship of Krakow city and forbade to exhibit his paintings in Krakow.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre was at its boom times. It was none other than Polish national playwright Stanisław Wyspiański who determined the unique position of this place. This great artist blessed with genius for poetry, painting, as well as stage designing, presented at the Municipal Theatre the majority of his works. The premiere of his 'Wesele' ('The Wedding') on 16 March 1901 is one of the most significant events in the history of Polish culture. In the interwar period, Słowacki Theatre managed to keep its high position, despite being among the greatest theatres of independent Poland such as these of Warsaw, Lviv and Vilnius. In 1921 the most prominent representative of Polish Avant-Garde of 20th century – Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy) - made his debut here. The premiere of his grotesque and full of absurd drama 'Tumor Mózgowicz' resulted in few compliments and the wave of criticism. Just before the outbreak of the World War II, Słowacki Theatre paid its respects to the free Fatherland with a patriotic spectacle of A Hymn to Polish Arms by L.H. Morstin, performed in the Wawel courtyard. After the war started in the autumn of 1939, the staff of the theatre was soon forced to leave the edifice. For the following five years the building housed a German theatre which was the object of Hitler's propaganda. The theatre reopened for Polish audience in February 1945. In 1980, shortly after the Polish Pope Jan Paweł II was elected for the Holy See, the Słowacki Theatre staged the world premiere of Karol Wojtyła's drama 'Our God's Brother' ('Brat naszego Boga'), which attracted great interest.

The Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Krakow is recognized also as 'Krakow Salon' which gathers all honourable celebrants on occasions of anniversary parties of scholars and artists from different countries. What's more, the theatre regularly hosts international and domestic medical conferences. In 2016 Stanisław Wyspiański was chosen a spiritual guardian of this place. Nothing strange about that - it would be difficult to find more suitable patron, whom the theatre owes so much. Wyspiański's idea of searching for deeper meaning, turning back this place, Krakow and the whole Poland from mediocrity and conformity keeps inspiring.

(Źródło - Strona Główna Teatru)