historic kraków

March 26, 2008


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like vienna, kraków’s old town (or stare miasto) is listed as a unesco world heritage site. kraków was the capital of poland until the late 16th century, when warsaw took over. wawel castle, (above and below) was the royal residence during kraków’s time as the seat of power.

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the path up wawel hill to the castle/wawel cathedral up close…a number of polish kings and saints are buried here (also i liked the aesthetic of the two chapels – identical in form, but different in material)

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interior of the wawel castle courtyard/there have been human settlements on wawel hill since the paleolithic age (i’m sure these ruins aren’t from that time, but show how layered the history of this spot is)

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a view of the vistula, poland’s great river, from wawel hill

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view over the rooftops of kraków

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colorful streets!

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lots of plazas and nice urban spaces – notice the guy on the bike in the left-hand photo

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i particularly liked this square – the installation was done by the polish design firm lewicki and latak. the space with its bronze chairs is a tribute to the tragic fate of 63,000 of kraków’s jews that were exterminated from the ghetto in 1943.

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the designers chose the chair forms because they recalled historic photographs of the city’s jewish population in exodus, carrying their belongings with them – everyday objects, even furniture. the chairs evoke a feeling of emptiness, and also provide a place to sit and think in this powerful space.

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some beautiful building details

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statuary in front of st. peter and paul’s cathedral

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the barbakan, or old city gate

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a ring of parks (called planty) now stand in the place of the former city walls, and encircle kraków’s historic center (this is also how vienna’s inner ring boulevards came to be)

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there seems to be a really great tram system in kraków, though i didn’t ride any while i was there/this bar had the best name, one i’ll use some day if me and joe ever open up a place – the ‘alkohole’

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a green building that i liked/one of the only obviously contemporary buildings that i saw in the center, and an interesting use of upended brick

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i liked the colors on these two buildings

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rynek glówny, kraków’s main square, is the largest medieval european marketplace (it’s about 40,000 square meters in area and dates back to the 13th century). the main building (center) is the sukiennice, or “cloth hall” and was once a meeting and trading place for merchants from around the world (today it houses souvenir stands). rynek glówny was also #1 on the project for public spaces list in 2005…!

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there was an easter market going on while i was there, which was really fun

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lovely buildings in rynek glówny

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horse-drawn carriages waiting at the edge of the square/the tower is all that remains of the town hall, which was demolished in order to make more space in the square

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this rather sleepy lion guards the tower…while sunbathing

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rynek glówny in the evening, just before i boarded the night train to warsaw…

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3 Responses to “historic kraków”


  1. I love Poland. Those are some nice photo’s you took. Did you go anywhere outside of the city like Wieliczka?

  2. tomek Says:

    Hi,
    thanks for depicting Kraków so nicely. I use your blog as a kind of inspiration as I’m in Copenhagen now (I’m from Warsaw, studying at the KU since January). It seems that we live in the same builidng:) My windows overlook Leifsgade.

  3. kidzi Says:

    hi, neighbor! 🙂 i’m glad you liked the blog entry – i really enjoyed krakow, though i was only there for one day and did not really have time to get far out of the center (or to wieliczka). next time!!


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