idzioreks in warsaw!

March 27, 2008


the third and final stop on my trip was warsaw, where i was able to meet some distant idziorek relatives. they kindly invited me into their home for the holiday and fed me wonderful food. i stayed with jerzy and anya (in the foreground) and was able to meet their son, daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. they also showed me around warsaw and were able to share many stories about the city and about poland. i had a fantastic time, and can’t thank them enough for their hospitality. my dad says that i’m the first idziorek to return to poland since his great-grandfather emigrated to america in the late 1800s, so i’m glad that i had this opportunity to meet the polish idzioreks. the photo above is of delicious easter breakfast with the whole family in jerzy and anya’s home.


antosch passes the bread at breakfast/”the idzioreks” in polish (“owie” makes it plural)


the first stop on my tour of warsaw was the wilanów palace, which was built for king john iii sobieski, a great ruler of poland who stabilized the polish-lithuanian commonwealth and defeated the turkish army in the battle of vienna. it was modeled after an italian villa, and is a blending of baroque and renaissance elements. after sobieski’s death, the building was owned by many great polish families, and has also functioned both as a museum and as a temporary residence for important guests of state.


jerzy took this photo of me in front of the monument to polish composer frederic chopin. this was in lazienkowski park, which had beautiful trees and a few early crocuses.


a reconstruction of warsaw’s old city walls in the stare miasto (or “old town”). warsaw’s historic center is also a unesco world heritage site (yes, i saw three such designated city centers on my brief easter vacation!). although it was originally established in the 13th century, the stare miasto was almost completely destroyed (more or less leveled) during the german invasion of 1939. the city made the decision after the end of wwii to completely reconstruct the old town just as it had been before the war, using surviving architectural drawings of what had existed there before. there’s lots more to this story (and a great chapter devoted to it in anthony m. tung’s book, “preserving the world’s great cities”), but for now i’ll leave it at this – it was a controversial decision that has caused a lot of discussion about the authenticity of the city center and the quality of the workmanship used in the reconstruction. however, it is today a lovely area and i think that the city would feel very empty without this physical reminder of its pre-wwii past. but i digress.


the barbakan, built in 1548, that used to control entrance through the city’s double walls/colorful buildings on plac zamkowy, or “castle square”


rynek starego miasta, the old town market square – colorful buildings with beautiful decoration/me with the polish idzioreks in rynek starego miasta


another view of plac zamkowy – the column on the left of the photo holds the statue of sigismund iii wasa (a native swede), and was erected by his son, founder and king wladyslaw iv/view of the statue from below – it’s the oldest secular statue in poland


st. anne’s church in the stare miasto, where jerzy and anya were married


the monument to the warsaw uprising on krasinski square. the polish resistance against german occupation began on august 1, 1944 and lasted for 63 days. there is disagreement about the number of deaths that occurred, but likely more than 200,000 polish civilians and soldiers were killed during the fighting.


monument to the little insurgent, another tribute to the 1944 uprising and the many children that were actively involved in the fighting/monument to józef piłsudski, marshall and key figure in the regaining of poland’s independence in 1918 (after having been partitioned for more 123 years)


the presidential palace, home of the republic’s leaders since 1994 (also the location of the signing of the warsaw pact in 1955, during the cold war)


church of the visitation sisters, and a monument to great polish poet adam mickiewicz


view from the stare miasto toward’s warsaw’s downtown – the tower in the center of the photograph is the “palace of culture and science,” a 760-foot-tall gift from stalin to the city of warsaw/st. anne’s church in wilanow, near the palace


historic kraków

March 26, 2008


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.


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)


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)


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


view over the rooftops of kraków


colorful streets!


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


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.


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.


some beautiful building details


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


the barbakan, or old city gate


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)


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’


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


i liked the colors on these two buildings


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…!


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


lovely buildings in rynek glówny


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


this rather sleepy lion guards the tower…while sunbathing


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