Thursday, May 24, 2012


Our introduction to Krakow was a short walking tour of the old town, followed by a carriage ride to our 4 star hotel Amadeus, a block or so off of the main square.
Our initial stop was at this statue which commerated the victorious battle against the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410. The statue was unveiled by its donor the eminent pianist and composer, Paderewski to celebrate the 500 year anniversary of the event. In 1939 the Nazis destroyed the momument. The present statue is a reconstruction made in 1976.
The Barbican, a masterpiece of medieval defensive art was built in 1498-99 in the foreground of the Brama Florianska (St Florian's Gate) built in 1307. This gate was the main and most closely guarded gate to the city. This Krakow Barbican is one of the 3 remaining "Round Bastions" in Europe, but the others are no match for its beauty, perfection of construction and size.
Just before the gate these 3 musicians in native dress entertained the visitors.
On either side of the gate some of the original wall remains along with their towers.
Where there was once a moat filled with water outside the wall, there is now a walking path surrounded by greenery, called the Planty Gardens.
And occasionally there are ponds with beautiful flowers and a fountain.
Florianska Street dates back to the Middle Ages and has always been the main trading route into the city. It lied on the route of merchant caravans traveling to marketplaces from distant foreign cities. The street is lined with heavily decorated burghers' houses, now housing shops, cafes and restaurants.
We end in the Cracovian Rynek (Market Square) a vast open area, one of the biggest squares in Europe and the heart of the city. At the one end is St. Mary's Basilica with its two towers built by brothers. Legend tells that the older one finished his higher tower first. Fearing that his younger brother's tower might outgrow his own he killed his rival. The 2nd tower remained unfinished and the evil brother, tormented by his conscience, confessed his crime and jumped to his death from the church belfry.
The middle of the square is taken up by Cloth Hall (filled with shops and Museums above, and the huge tower which stand nearby.
At the other end of Rynek is the St. Adalbert and the mail coach.
While we were there we were treated to these sights, and more. Little girls coming from their 1st Communion,
An actor with his sword and attentive audience,
Colorful carts with Polish items to sell,
Horse and carriage rides,
A fireman's parade of vintage equipment,
And a Parade of costumed firemen.

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