Apr 26

KRAKOW – HISTORY AND LEISURE IN A CITY OF LEGEND (KRAKÓW)

Many confuse Krakow with Warsaw, the capital of modern Poland, but Krakow is considered the cultural capital and is used to be the official one until 1596, when Poland was a kingdom. Krakow is located on the Northern bank of the Vistula River and the basis of this settlement is said to have been established by a brave cobbler, Szewczyk Dratewka, who fought a dangerous dragon, chased it out of the place and made it hide in a cave. That is why the effigy of Warsaw is a dragon.

http://culture.pl/

http://culture.pl/

It is Poland’s second largest city, with a population of over 755,000 inhabitants and, some say it is definitely the most fascinating and elegant city of Poland, with three main areas which are not to be missed: the Old Center with the old cathedrals, the memorial house of Pope John Paul II, Barbican Palace, the old market – which is Europe’s largest market -, or Rynek Underground. Fortunately, Warsaw was not affected by the ravages of World War II, compared to other cities, and it preserves a great deal of its monuments, such as the former royal Wawel castle (considered one of the most visited spots) and the reputed Warsaw University – the oldest university in Europe, among many other sightseeings that are enclosed in a circle-shaped park named “Planty”.

http://www.aritours.si/

http://www.aritours.si/

Afterwards you have the picturesque Jewish Quarter – Kazimierz, that looks like an open-air museum – a place of legend which inspired many fascinating novels and movies, such as “Schindler’s List”, which was actually filmed right there, on the spot, Seems that the director, Steven Spielberg, decided that the surroundings have preserved the very atmosphere of the era and it was a perfect set for his film. There, you can visit the factory of the real Schindler, the Jewish ghetto with the old drugstore and synagogue.

Another main touristic spot that you must not miss is the Castle, in fact an architectural complex made up of the cathedral built in the memory of Pope John Paul II, the citadel’s museums and the crypt of the former Polish president Lech Kaczynsky.

Kalwaria Zebridowska is known as “the Polish Golgota” and it represents an ensemble of convents and monasteries situated some 38 km north to Krakow. It is almost a small town of monastic settlements which become a part of U.N.E.S.C.O. patrimony in 1999.

http://www.polin.travel/

http://www.polin.travel/

The elegance of the old monuments are well-known; the Art Nouveau buildings, the Medieval churches and other such monuments will definitely awe you and remain in your memory.

But besides the cultural attraction, there are plenty of restaurants, pubs, clubs and bars, making Krakow a vivid and colourful city. Restaurants offer the visitors a wide range of possibilities, from Japanese flavors, to Italian and, of course, traditional dishes. The services are great, the prices are lower than in other parts of Europe and people are greatly hospitable and lovely.

You will definitely not get enough from only one visit!

Sep 07

Wawel Castle (Castelul Wawel)

When it comes to imperial houses, Europe has quite a variety of impressive castles, the only thing that make some more renowned than others are the striking appearance and craftsmanship with which they have been constructed.

The Polish town of Krakow prides itself with a beautiful Gothic Castle which was erected by the order of Casimir III. Wawel Castle is actually an ensemble of edifices which encompass within their walls a courtyard. During the reign of Casimir the Great, the castle truly blossomed, being transformed into the perfect lodging for the royal family. However, the citadel was destroyed almost in its entirety at the turn of the 15th century when it was ravaged by flames.

http://traveler.nationalgeographic.com

But it can be argued that something good came out of this event in the sense that it was then that the architectural style characteristic for Renaissance was brought to Krakow. With the initiation of the rehabilitation process, Krakow experienced an architectural turnaround, the new wave of decorative design having been incorporated in all of the new constructions to come, not only in Krakow, but throughout Poland.

The historical past of the construction is tumultuous, as Wawel has experience both periods of greatness and of complete decadence. From the epicenter of the most powerful country on the European continent, Wawel Castle was transformed into nothing more than a dirty garrison under the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

At present, tourists are bound to find the Wawel Castle at its very best, as the edifice had undergone renovation for quite some time. The sections which are more likely to catch the interest of visitors are the State Rooms, the Treasury and the Armory.

http://forum4editors.com

 

The State Rooms are striking in their appearance, even more so if we are to take into consideration that these have been used for military purposes for close to a century. The restoration work was initiated at the beginning of the 20th century, but when WWII broke, the refurbishing process came to an end abruptly. But none of these historical hindrances is noticeable within the walls of the castle. These rooms are now decorated with beautiful tapestries and ancient collectables, at which are added antique furnishings. Wawel Castle has preserved an authentic feel to it in the sense that visitors actually feel that they are going back to that historical past, and they have the opportunity to walk alongside royalty. The only thing that lacks from this scenario are the actual noblemen; otherwise, everything is preserved to its minute detail.

http://www.britannica.com

The treasury and the armory are definitely worth exploring due to the precious objects encountered here. Tourists can gaze on the weapons of ancient times: swords, maces, and all sorts of weapons used in the past, some of them being beautifully adorned with precious stones. The designs are so unique that it becomes obvious that only a true artist could have created such one-of-a-kind pieces of weaponry.

The treasury located inside Wawel Castle consists of several ceremonial objects, the majority dating from antiquity. While you might expect to find the crown jewels here, with the castle having been the dwelling of the royal family, you will be disappointed to find out that these are not part of the treasury. In fact, these jewels have been melted near the end of the 18th century, when Poland underwent its final dismemberment. But there is something that has survived from the crown jewelry and that is the Szczerbiec Sword which was first used in the coronation ceremony in the 13th century and which has been used as such from then onward.

http://www.inyourpocket.com

As it has been previously mentioned, the Wawel Castle traversed different stages having shifted its purpose in time. A museum has been organized here so as to maintain the history of Wawel alive.  Several archeological diggings took place so as to uncover de hidden pieces of the puzzle, which were to retrace the past and give insight into the construction of the castle and of the way in which it was transformed throughout the years.