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.


  1. Overall it looks like a good trip and thanks for writing up all this historical information. I've learned, too, and definitely want to visit Poland soon. :)

    Of course I love the pumpkins as well!! Great colors. Happy Halloween!!!

  2. I do believe that you can find pumpkins where ever you go!