Monday, October 31, 2011

Final Day, still lots to see in Krakow Oct. 8th, 2011

"New" Jewish cemetery, opened in 1800. (Photos of "Old" cemetery in prior blog.) Nazis destroyed the cemetery and used some of the gravestones as paving stones in the concentration camps. Efforts have been made to get some of these back and, as you see above, the remains of some stones have been made into a wall.

Entrance to Poppea Synagogue, no longer a synagogue, but now a youth center in  Kazimierz section.  Kazimierz had 6 synagogues The Rem'uh (in prior blog) which still functions as a synagogue, Issac, Poppea, Old, High and New Synagogues ( only other one still in use). 

old building with Jewish star in kazimierz ghetto

High Synagogue, as you can tell from the high windows, where the prayer room is located - Kazimierz ghetto. now a museum.

Archway in courtyard where Schindler's list was filmed, again in the Kazimierz ghetto area

"Schindler's list' staircase

outside courtyard of Jagiellonian University Krakow. Is over 640 years old in old town.
University dates back to 1364 when Poland’s King Kazimierz III the Great (1333-1370) established a "Studium Generale" in the city with permission from Pope Urban V. He wanted to start educating the nation. In 1400 university was expanded due to the legacy left by the Polish queen-saint Jadwiga (1384-1399). The Jagiellonian University is named after Jadwiga's husband, King Ladislav II Jagiello (1386-1434), who fulfilled her wishes regarding the modernization of the school.
beautiful inner courtyard of university, called the Collegium Maius, oldest par t of the university dating back to late 15th century
As early as in the mid 15th century the Krakow University (Jagiellonian) became Europe’s leading academic center of mathematics, astronomy, astrology, geography and legal studies. Nicolaus Copernicus (1491-95) attended classes here as did Pope John Paul II (1938-39, 1942-46).
original home which was the first university, you can see where the stone changes. University grew to nearby attached buildings.

great medieval clock in courtyard (2 photos above) which had its parade of figures come out of  the green windows on the hour.

some of the figures at the 1.00 p.m clock show

one of the impressive rooms of the Jagiellonian. The Collegium, which has the oldest buildings, is now a museum with lovely rooms (most of furnishings are reconstructed).  They offer a wonderful 30 minute tour. well worth the time.

library of the university. nowadays there is a much more modern library space

Fabulous wooden staircase, built in Gdansk, one of 4 in the country, this one in the Jagiellonian. it was stunning.

another view

great ceramic stove made in poland, they had a few of these in the building. beautiful. this is a reconstructed professor's room. In medieval times the professors were unmarried, lived and taught at the University and indeed the older rooms of the museum in the Collegium Maius were very monastic like.

This is a copy of a much smaller copper globe (in museum in university) from 1510, the first to depict the Americas, which are shown underneath Australia!

Pretty park (called "planty" park) with a wondeful walkway which surrounded the old city. It is 2.5 miles around. The park was built in the 19th century,  over where the moat used to be. The city walls were decaying and unfortunately taken down at that time.

Churches were all over Krakow, many different architectural styles and way too many to visit.

park on the grounds of the important Skalka church and monastery

Skałka, which means "a small rock" in Polish, is a small hillock in Kraków where the Bishop of Kraków Saint Stanislaus was beheaded and dismembered by order of King Bolesław in 1079. He was Poland first native saint and is probably their most popular saint. Every May 8th there is a huge procession of the saint's relics from Wawel Castle to the church.  The tradition goes back to the time of the bishop’s canonisation, that is 1253!
Originally, a Romanesque church in 1472 the Great King Kazimierz III raised a new gothic church in its place.  Since then this shrine has been in the possession of a monastic community of Pauline Fathers. It now has a baroque decor. It is one of the most famous Polish sanctuaries.
I found out later  Stanislaw Wyspianski, the artist who did the art nouveau windows and painting in the Franciscan church is buried here. would loved to have seen his burial place but a wedding was taking place in the church when I visited.

Old gothic church of St. Catherine and St. Margaret. The church was begun by (guess who?) King Kazimierz the Great, who brought the Order of St Augustine here.  The construction of the Gothic basilica began around 1343. Unfortunately, it was never fully completed due to many problems,  earthquakes, Swedish invasions,   etc.  The Augustinian Order acquired funds for the restoration of the church, which began in the mid-19th century and continues to today.

Pope John Paul II, close up of statue from photo above on the grounds of  St Stanislaus Church, othewise known as the "skalca"

 Side view of the very pretty church of Sts. Catherine and Margaret. Was closed when I passed by, will have to be seen on my return trip to Krakow (?)

 market pumpkins!

all kinds of pumpkins in market near our hotel

A short Polish history lesson: knowing nothing about Polish history it was time to learn. What I did learn is that Kazimierz the Great, the Polish king from 1333-1370 seemed like an enlightened figure who I liked.  He was tolerant, progressive and instrumental in fortifying Poland. He is the only Polish king to be called "Great". As you read above, he started the first university in Poland knowing people needed be educated, he also encouraged Jews to come to Poland in the 14th century when they were being sent away from other countries, he started a number of churches as you can see from blog above.

  The "Kazimierz" district (now a 20 min. walk from the main square) became the Jewish quarter, with its own town hall, market and city walls. Once the Nazis arrived the remaining 14,000 out of 65,000 Jews were mandated to the ghetto in Podgorze (prior blog) and we unfortunately know what happened to them there.  Today Krakow has only about 200 Jews.

Good trip, lots to see, do and learn and still many things to be explored for another trip.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oskar Schindler's factory/museum and Krakow ghetto

Schindler's "Emalia (enamel bowls, cups, cookware etc.)  Factory",  rebuilt into a great museum at 4 Lipowa Street. From 1948 to 2002 it had been used as a Polish telecommunications factory. Now recounts the 5 years of the Nazi occupation in Krakow through videos, photos, documents, settings, drawings etc.  It shows prewar Krakow, the German invasion in 1939, Krakow as the capital of Poland under the Nazi occupation, the sorrows of everyday living in the occupied city, family life, the wartime history of Krakow Jews, the resistance movement,  the underground Polish state, and lastly the Soviet capture of the city.  There is A LOT to see, read and listen to.  We were there for over 5 straight hours. The videos, most of which were interviews with the Jewish survivors were fascinating. They varied in length from 15 to 5 minutes (more or less) and were very well-done. One couldn't listen to all of them but we did a good job of listening to many.

Plaque on the factory

The main medieval square, which I posted many photos of before, is called in Polish Rynek Glowny. The Germans under their occupation called it  first alter Markt and then Adolf-Hitler Place. Original signs.

Tile floor in one room of the museum. this was added for the museum but was very effective

Schindler's original office. Furnishings and map were all preserved and are original.

Enamelware produced in factory much of which was often traded in black markets for other goods but primary purpose was cookware for German soldiers.

 Ghetto (translated as Ghetto Heroes Square), before 1948 known as Plac Zgody,
 about 500 meters from Schindler's factory- where the jews were all forced to live in March of 1941.  Ghetto was next to the industrial area with many plants where the jews were used as cheap forced laborers. The residents of this Podgorze borough were forced to move to make way for the 17,000 jews who were sent here by the Germans. The other 65,000 jews who had been in krakow had already been moved out or left for other cities.  the Plaszow concentration camp was near by. And the adjoining Zablocie train station facilitated future deportations.

Large ghetto square. The ghetto was walled off with 4 gates, guarded by Germans. 4 Jewish families would share one flat. The chairs are a monument and are placed all over the square, 30+ large and 30+ smaller ones  in remembrance of  the Jew who had all their possessions thrown out on the street as they were being deported by the SS to death camps.  Germans closed the ghetto in 1943 after all the Jews had been moved out in 3 stages.
Monument was built in Dec 2005 
 Pharmacy (original) in ghetto, right across from ghetto.  The pharmacist (Only non-jew who lived in the ghetto) and his 3 woman  Polish helpers were part of the Polish resistance.  They also were  risking their lives  by allowing notes to get out to relatives of the jews inside medicines, they had food smuggled in etc.

Train crossing the river from Podgorze area (area of the ghetto and industrial plants). We walked over the river to get back to our hotel as it was very close.
It was raining slightly the day we visited the museum and the ghetto. there is a great bike/walking path around krakow, along the  Wisla river although we never had time to explore it.

Back across the river to the Kazimierz district and the historical Jewish Quarter - 5 minutes from our hotel was the oldest synagogue in Krakow. It is now a museum, with mostly photographs.  We tried twice to get in but it was closed and then closed for Yom Kippur.

original gate of factory (front of car)

Was another intense day of touring but I would recommend this museum to anyone. Very well -done and one learns a tremendous amount.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wawel Castle area krakow

side chapel in cathedral, gorgeous  tombs

courtyard in castle area

courtyard detail

the three travelers

view of castle with ruins off to the right

lovely castle grounds, with great walls dating back many centuries

view of castle from street side
On the castle grounds artifacts going back to the 9th century have been found. Polish royals lived in the castle from the 11th to the 16th century. However, it was during the reign of Kazimierz the Great (1333-70) that the castle was truly born. A fire in 1499 destroyed much of this, yet also paved the way for Cracow's first taste of the Renaissance. The cathedral is the burial place for many of the Polish kings and queens as well as famous Poles. It has many different styles, renaissance, gothic, baroque etc. There is a burial crypt which we did not visit, nor did we visit the state rooms. we were at the end of a long day and felt the need to get home and have a nap!

An Umbrian fall weekend oct 21-23, 2011

it's really fall

newly purchased goat cheeses from our visit to a great goat cheese making farm just outside Orvieto

great wooden barn filled with ...goats

happy and friendly goats

the "stagionato" (aged) goat cheeses. young couple has taken on this endeavor and have been producing a small production of cheeses for two years now.

our purchases all wrapped up so pretty

another friendly fellow

view of entire town of orvieto

a very fruitful quince tree and we enjoyed really yummy stewed quinces

cavolo nero in the garden, my favorite

such a great view to wake up to, low lying clouds among the hills

the garden of the giant cabbages

looks like pears but it isn't, don't remember the name of this exotic fruit

had the great pleasure of biting into one of these and it was fall in one bite! delicious

freshly harvested lettuce from the wonderful garden
a weekend with friends at their fabulous umbrian abode. Perfect fall weather, gorgeous views, energetic walks, some wood chopping making larger logs into "boutique pieces of wood",  fabulous meals which came from a weekend of living off the land! what could be better?