Wawel Dragon Statue

3rd Oct 2019

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Wawel Dragon Statue is a longtime symbol of Kraków. The six-metre monument, being a major tourist attraction of the city, is dedicated to a beast from popular local legends.

According to the oldest story, in the 12th-century Kraków there was a dragon who terrified the residents of the city for years. To avoid casualties, local people used to feed the dragon with their own cattle, which resulted in financial losses. Then Krakus, who was the king of Poland and founder of Kraków city, decided to disembarrass his people and ordered his two sons – Lech and Krakus II - to kill the monster. The young men, being aware of the predominance of the dragon, came up with a clever idea. At feeding time, they put in front of the dragon's lair a calf skin which was staffed with brimstone. The creature, unaware of the deceit, ate up the whole meal and immediately rushed to the nearest water point which was the Wisła River. Unable to quench thirst, the Wawel Dragon was drinking the water uncontrollably until it consumed half the river and its enormous stomach exploded. In this way the royal sons rescued inhabitants of Kraków from the cruel monster. In later versions of the legend, this brave feat is credited to a poor cobbler Skuba, who, as a reward, won the hand of king's daughter.

No matter which variant of this story is closer to the truth, the dragon located at the foot of Wawel Hill since 1972 is to remind us of these legendary events. The Dragon Statue, designed by the local artist Bronisław Chromy, breathes real fire every 10 minutes, which brings a smile on the faces of visitors. Contrary to popular belief, the creature has seven heads, not just one, that most of the people don't know about, assuming that the smaller heads are its limbs. Literally every tourist wants to take a souvenir photo with the Wawel beast!

The dragon motif is so popular that even the street leading towards the castle is called Smocza [Eng. Dragon Street] and every year on June there is the famous Great Dragons Parade taking place on the streets of Kraków. Having seen the statue, it is worth to visit also the Dragon's Lair, which is situated nearby on the bank of the Wisła River. The chamber, that used to be home to the dragon, is available for tourists from the second half of April until the end of October, from 10:00 to 19:00. You can purchase the tickets by the entrance for 5zł. Enjoy yourself! :)

Plac Nowy (The New Square)

17th Oct 2019

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Plac Nowy (eng. The New Square), also called the Jewish Square, is the very heart of Kazimierz district. Surrounded by the Nowa, Beera Meiselsa, Warszauera and Estery streets, it is one of the most original marketplaces of Poland.

On the north side of the square, extending along defensive walls of Kazimierz, there are the houses once belonged to the Jewish hospital near the Kupa Synagogue From the end of 16th to the mid 19th century, the area of Plac Nowy was the part of Jewish town, called Libuszhof. This is where the paths of the inhabitants of Kazimierz used to cross. Today's constructions around the square took shape mostly in the years 1870-1923 and from the 1900 this area has been serving as a marketplace.

The central point of Plac Nowy is the Okrąglak (Rotunda) with the hole-in-the-wall food hatches. Okrąglak was built in 1900 as a market hall. In 1927 the building was leased to Jewish Community and it was transformed into a ritual poultry slaughterhouse, which was liquidated only during the German occupation. After the World War II, the Okrąglak again started to serve as a market hall. Currently, in its walls there are fast food windows located. This is exactly where you can taste the best 'zapiekanki' in the whole Kraków. Being of enormous size, they are really unmatched. If you do not believe, you can just look at the endless queue of hungry people waiting to get them. But it is worth to wait! Plac Nowy is the place where yearly concerts of Krakow Jewish Festival take place – and they are performed on the Okrąglak's roof. In 2008, the building was entered into the register of historical monuments of Kraków.

From early morning hours in Plac Nowy merchant stalls offer a variety of goods, including fresh vegetables, food and industrial products. On every Saturday a flea market takes place there, which attracts collectors from the whole Poland as everyone can find various precious antiquities (like old books and jewellery). In addition, on Sundays for the past few decades a clothing market has been carried out there. It is a great opportunity to search out an original second-hand outfit and do not lose a fortune. The square of Plac Nowy is surrounded by numerous lovely bars and cafes which allude to the magical atmosphere of old Kazimierz.

photo: Jan Graczyński

The Krakus Mound

28th Oct 2019

kopiec

In Krakow, there are four separate memorial mounds and the city is a Polish champion in this regard. Two the oldest structures include Krakus Mound and Wanda Mound; then, there is the most popular one - Tadeusz Kościuszko Mound and finally, the youngest and the biggest of them is called after Józef Piłsudski.

Located on the right bank of the Wisła River in the Podgóże district, Krakus Mound (called also Krak Mound) is not only the oldest preserved objects of its kind in Kraków but also the biggest prehistoric mound in Poland. This 16m high construction was truly of a great importance, which is proven by the fact that it was visible from the Wawel Castle so that the kings, taking important decisions in Poselska Hall, could look at the mound through the window and be reminded of the greatness of their predecessor - the King Krakus.

According to the Polish chronicler Jan Długosz, the mound was built by two sons of Krakus as a grave for their deceased father. King Krakus, known also as Krak or Gracchus, was a legendary founder of Krakow, known for its righteousness and, if you believe the legend, he lived in 8th century AD. If you are interested what did Krak look like, you should see the sculpture of the king made by Franciszek Kalfas which can be found in the courtyard of National Archives on Sienna 16. After Krak's death, his daughter Wanda became his successor and this is she whom the second mound is dedicated to.

There is a great probability that Krakus Mound functioned as a place of pagan worship, since Krakus Mound, Wawel Hill and Wanda Mound create together an isosceles triangle. In addition, the recent archaeological works revealed there the remains of 300-year-old oak's roots - the tree which used to grow on the top of the mound and was cut down shortly after Poland had been baptised. For this reason it can be assumed that the oak was connected with the pagan cult taking place on the mound. In this sense there is a strong similarity between the Krakus Mound and other archaic constructions such as Stonehenge.

In contrast, nowadays the Krakus Mound functions as a recreational spot which seems to be perfect for afternoon walks. It is a popular target for couples in love who want to spend some time in nature. Besides, Krakus Mound is a great touristic destination, as it provides a wonderful panoramic view of the city. It is definitely worth to visit the mound and climb up to the top of it, which gives a golden opportunity to admire a breathtaking scenery of Krakow, including the Old Town, Płaszów and the Liban Quarry with the remains of the scenery for Steven Spielberg's film 'Schindler's List'.

(photo: Magiczny Kraków)