Poland Day Three: The Exploration Of Krakow Continues. So Many Beautiful Churches.
After spending some time reflecting outside the Schindler factory I decided to walk back to my hotel. The mid April sun was shining in the clear blue skies and the temperatures now warmed up into the uppers 60’s making for perfect walking weather.
It seemed a lot of the folks in Krakow agreed. There were many people outside enjoying the sun as I left the Podgorze area and walked along the Vistula River.
As in most cities, there was a nice park along the river and it was used by many young mothers with their children, senior citizens and tourists enjoying the view of the river and the sunshine.
I crossed the Vistula river on a most unusual bridge. It was lined with sculptures engaged in acrobatic activities on the wire supports of the bridge.
I did not have my guide book or map but knew if I continues to walk in a westerly direction along the river I would have to eventually come to Wawel Castle. So this I did, at times venturing from the river banks to explore the surrounding neighborhoods.
The areas along the river were mainly residential neighborhoods with many churches and schools. There are over two hundred churches in the city,
As I proceeded on my walk I noticed one of these beautiful churches so I walked over to investigate. It was, I discovered Skalka, the historic Church on the Rock.
I spent some time touring the church and it’s beautiful grounds. I learned it was the place of the murder of St. Stanislaus by King Boleslaw the Bold in the 11th century. It had a long history associated with the King’s of Poland.
I admired the many beautiful statutes and paintings in the interior of the church. Here is a link to some more photographs of my visit to Skalka.https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-Skalka-April-10-2017-
I continued my walk and veered from the river into a more commercial part of the city as I neared Wawel Castle. There were a lot of small shops and businesses and a lot of traffic and pedestrians in the area,
I love exploring all parts of a city, from the parks to the industrial areas since it is the only real way to get to truly know a city.
I made it back to the Castle and turned onto the the main street, Grodzka Street, also know as the Royal Road. It was the route coronation processions would follow in the old town through the centuries as well as other dignitaries visiting the King. More on this route, which passes many landmarks, including the historic St Andrew’s Church, pictured below, in a later post. Today I was tired and just making my way back. I came to the Main Square and decided I wasn’t ready to head to the hotel, but wanting to get out of the now intense mid April sun, I decided to visit the historic church that dominates the square, St. Mary’s Basilica.
This church was established in the 13th century. Amazing. It was destroyed by Mongols but rebuilt in 1320 and expanded a number of times, including a major expansion with the help of Mikołaj Wierzynek. Remember that name.
I purchased a photography permit for eight zolty, about two US dollars, and it sure was worth it. The photographs of this magnificent church, it’s exquisite wooden alter and carvings, it’s starred ceiling do it no justice but at least allow me to share an idea of it’s splendor. Here is a link to some of the many photographs I took of the interior of the church.https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-St-Mary’s-part-two-April-10-2017
I spent an hour in the church taking photographs but also just sitting and admiring the beauty of the historic church.
There is so much history to tell, and it would take a long book to tell it all, but I will relate one of the most famous legends associated with the church. When the city was attacked by the Mongols in the 13th century a trumpeter was sounding the alarm form St. Mary’s church. In the middle of the alarm he was struck in the throat with an arrow. So every hour a live trumpeter sounds the alarm and breaks off in the middle of the tune to commemorate the trumpeter who died doing his duty for his country almost a millennium ago.
I wish I had more time to see all of the church but I had some errands to do and had to move on. Here is a link to more photographs of the beautiful interior of St. Mary’s. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-St.-Mary’s-part-one-April-10-2017-
I walked the short distance back to my hotel, past the many crowds, many of them tourists, enjoying this splendid Spring day. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk back to the city. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-Podgorze-return-walk-April-10-2017-il-
This would be my last day in Krakow. I was leaving to visit the mountains of Poland the next day. I had a hotel, the Hotel Gorski PTTK Kalatowki , but wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get there yet.
The staff at the front desk at the Hotel Grodek helped me make my decision and said a bus would be my best option. They could have obtained a ticket on-line but I decided to walk to the bus station and purchase the ticket myself. I walked along the tree lined planty again, but this time in the opposite direction and soon found myself outside of the quiet of old town and in busy central Krakow.
I walked with the large crowds of commuters rushing to catch their buses and trains at Krakow’s central bus and train stations.
It took a little time to locate the bus station, on the other side of the train tracks, but I finally found it and purchased a ticket to Zakopane for 10:10 am the next morning.
I was glad I made the trip to the bus station. The tour guides advised that it was a short 10 minute walk to the station. I had planned to walk with my luggage the next morning. It took me almost 25 minutes to get through the crowds and to the bus station. And that was without luggage! I now planned to take a taxi to the station in the morning.
It was now late afternoon so I walked back to my hotel to shower and decide where to eat. On the way I learned they have cats in Poland too, as I ran into this one on my walk. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk to the bus station. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-Walk-to-bus-station-
I did a lot of walking during the day, and I wanted to eat close to the hotel so the staff at the recommended a restaurant near the planty and Wawel Castle, about 10 minute away by foot. . So I took a pleasant evening walk to find it. Find it I did but I also found it was closed Mondays.
So I was off looking for a place to eat and decided to try the many restaurants on Grodska Street. On my way I came across a very meaningful memorial for me. It so happened to be the anniversary of the Kaytn massacre, a massacre of Polish nationals by Russian secret police on April 10th 1940. My father often spoke of this massacre and how it troubled him. I stopped and took some time to reflect at the memorial.
I then made my way up very busy Grodzka street and decided on trying Pod Aniolami “Under the Angels” Restaurant recommended in the tour guides and by a fellow American traveler I met at breakfast.
It was a good choice. I had a delicious meal of mushroom soup, zander a Polish fresh water fish and a side of mushrooms in beautiful rooms adorned with paintings and artwork.
I also visited the dining rooms located downstairs in the medieval cellar which looked more like a dungeon. It was the perfect way to end a perfect day.
I made my way back through the Main Square, enjoying again it’s carnival like atmosphere. I also took in the rising moon in the east. It was along day but surely a wonderful one. I knew I would miss Krakow, I had come to love in in two short days, but I was also looking to my trip to the Polish mountains in the morning. Here is a link to some more photographs from my evening walk. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-evening-walk-April-10-2017-
“Each neighborhood of the city appeared to be made of a different substance, each seemed to have a different air pressure, a different psychic weight: the bright lights and shuttered shops, the housing projects and luxury hotels, the fire escapes and city parks.”
― Teju Cole