Tag: krakow

Wawel Castle, Krakow, watercolor

Krakow: the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque

Wawel Cathedral

Krakow is replete with finely preserved notable architecture.  The Rynek Glowny (Main Square) is in the center of the old town (Stare Miasto).  Sukiennice (The Cloth Hall, 1400) is a fine example of the Renaissance.  The Cloth Hall was a center for the export of salt (there is a huge salt mine nearby), textiles and lead and the import of spices, silk, leather and wax.  The Rynek Glowey is normally full of visitors, horse drawn carriages, and outdoor seating at the many restaurants.  

 
Cloth Hall in the main square
Cloth Hall in the Rynek Glowny

A short distance away is St Mary’s Basilica is late Gothic church with two unmatched spires at 80 m (260′).  One was originally a city watch tower.   The Basilica’s foundations date to the early 13th century.  The church has a famous wooden altar piece by Veit Stross (Wit Stwosz).  Every hour a trumpet plays from taller tower, the former watch tower.  It commemorates the 13th c. trumpeter shot in the throat while sounding the alarm before a Mongol attack on the city.  The noon hejnał is broadcast Polish national Radio 1 Station.

St Mary's Basilica
St Mary’s Basilica

The Royal Cathedral is another Gothic structure dating from 1100.  Pope John Paul II gave his first performance as a priest here in 1946.

Wawel Cathedral
Wawel Cathedral

 

The Church of St. Adalbert, which is one of the few remaining examples of the Polish Romanesque style in Krakow, and the oldest Christian chapel in the city to boot.

Church of St. Adalbert
Church of St. Adalbert

The pointed arches show the Gothic character of the Collegium Maius

Collegium Maius
Collegium Maius

The Barbican is a fortifcation once connected to the city walls just behind it. 

Barbakan
Barbakan

 

The Church of St Peter and Paul is Baroque in style. 

Church of St Peter and Paul
Church of St Peter and Paul

Krakow: city of architecture and culture

Krakow sits on the banks of the Vistula.  Settlement dates from the 7th century, finding Wawel hill a defensible position. and has long been a major center of Polish culture and economy.  It was a member of the Hanseatic league despite not being coastal and thus had its own fleet during that period (circa 1000-1500).   It was the capitol of Poland from 1038-1569, when Wawel Castle 

Wawel Castle
Wawel Castle

castle burned, after which the capital was moved to Warsaw.  It was capitol again during the Nazi era.  In 1978, Karol Wojtyła became Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian in 455 years.  Auschwitz is close by, and Schindler had his factory here, which is now a museum.   Its current population is 760,000, with a total regional population of 8 million.  On our first day it seemed like a few million children were taking a field drip to the city, long lines of them being moved about by teachers trying to show them the town.  

Wawel Castle at night

http://www.garyjkirkpatrick.com/krakow/Wawel Castle at nightKrakow means “town of Krakus,”  a legendary ruler of the country.  The area’s first named inhabitants, the Vistulian tribe (700 CE), gave the river its name.  However, there is evidence of habitation dating well before, to 50,000 years.  Wawel Castle, now a fine arts museum, was built  circa 1350 and much renovated in the 16th century, when King Sigusmund brought in Italian architects, German decorators as well as local craftsmen.  

In 1364 Casimir III founded the University of Krakow, the second oldest in central Europe after Charles University in Prague.  By the 15th century the city had entered its golden age, whence the examples of Polish Renaissance architecture.  The architecture includes fine examples of Gothic, Renaissance and the Baroque.

Wawel Cathedral
Wawel Cathedral
St Mary CathedraL, Krakow
St Mary Cathedral, Krakow

  

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