Krakow, Poland the “City of Churches” and Music

Franciscan Church and Monastery in Krakow, Poland

The travel blog series on Krakow, Poland continues with a must see church in the historical downtown, plus finding a musical concert to go to in Krakow.

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Krakow, Poland the “City of Churches”

 Krakow is known as the “city of churches” with over 120 churches, basilicas, etc. The city of Krakow also has an abundance of monasteries and convents and is sometimes referred to as the “Northern Rome.”

The churches and basilicas in Krakow are some of the most beautiful I have seen! The churches in Krakow have elaborate carvings, beautiful stained-glass windows, and detailed painting on the walls and ceilings.

Earlier in this travel series on Krakow, Poland I covered the St. Mary’s Basilica and Church of St. Adalbert in the main square, along with the Wawel Cathedral.

Below is information on another church that should not be missed when visiting Krakow, especially if you appreciate architecture and art nouveau.

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1 – The Franciscan Church and Monastery is on Franciszkanska Street where it’s set back from the street and looks like a rather ordinary church with a brick façade and a stepped roof, which is very common in Krakow. But once you enter the Franciscan Church in Krakow you see how different it is! The church was founded in the 13th century but has painting and stained-glass windows designed by the Polish artist Stainslaw Wyspianski. What makes the Franciscan Church so interesting, at least to me, is that every inch is covered in paintings but not those typical to church interiors but instead has intricate flowers interwoven with geometrical patterns.

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2 – Stainslaw Wyspianski was a 20th century Polish artist who created monumental church murals, stained-glass windows, paintings, graphic art, and interior decoration. Wyspianski also designed stage sceneries and costumes; he also restored old murals and stained-glass windows in Krakow churches. You can see work by Wyspianski in the Stainslaw Wyspianski Museum, which I highly recommend as it shows you a great deal of his work. The Museum dedicated to Wyspianski’s work is just off the Main Market Square on Szczepanska Street in a historic tenement house built in 1904. The National Museum of Krakow created the Wyspianski Museum due to their rich collection of the artist’s work and for the high position he held in Polish culture. I was unable to visit the National Museum of Krakow, short on time, but hope to get back to see it and discover more Polish artists to admire, as I have come to admire Wyspianski’s work!

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 Music in Krakow, Poland

Krakow is a city of classical music. During the summer (I do not know about the winter schedules) you can enjoy concerts in numerous venues, mostly churches. I highly recommend attending at least one concert during your visit to Krakow. You will find signs in front of most churches about the concerts, where you can buy tickets at the time of the performance or reserve tickets ahead of time.

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The next post will give tips on how to get to Krakow and include airport information.

** Interested in a photo on this travel blog about Krakow? You can purchase a photo of Krakow, Poland on The Monica Store by clicking here.

*** For more photographs about Krakow, Poland click here for stock images of Krakow which are also available as prints.

 

Visiting the University of Krakow, Poland

University of Krakow photo by Monica Goslin

This travel blog series on Krakow, Poland continues with: Visiting the University of Krakow, Poland

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The University of Krakow – Jagiellonian University

The University of Krakow is the second oldest university in central Europe, founded in 1364 by King Casimir II the Great. The university provided studies in law, theology, and astronomy, attracting students from Germany, Spain, Russia, etc. Between 1500 and 1535 the university had over three thousand students; however attendance declined in later centuries before growing under the Austrian Empire when new buildings were added. The university was shut down during World War II but now the university is doing well again, with over fifty thousand students and a third campus is being built. The university offers 48 degrees and 93 specializations.

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Notable Alumni of The University of Krakow – Jagiellonian University

Many distinguished alumni of the university include poets, diplomats, scientists, economists, etc. Two very notable and well known alumni of the University of Krakow are: Nicolaus Copernicus and Pope John Paul II.

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Visiting the University of Krakow – Jagiellonian University

You can see many of the university buildings but the main one to visit is the Maius Museum, which is the oldest university building dating back to 1400. The building was donated to the university by King Wladyslaw Jagiello. After World War II the building was converted into a museum. Each room served a different function – you will walk through the library, a dining hall, a lecture room and more where you will see scientific instruments, historical documents, etc.

Location and Tickets – The Maius Museum is not far from the main square and you can see the main courtyard and gardens for free. The main building ticket price is 12pln but entrance is free from 3-6PM on Tuesdays (April to October) and 2-4PM on Tuesdays (November to March).

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The clock at the Maius Museum of the University of Krakow

 There is a clock in the courtyard of the Maius Museum which has a small “show” five times a day in which trumpets sound and the doors open for a small procession of figures to circle the clock. The musical clock procession is at 9AM, 11AM, 1PM, 3PM, and 5PM.

The clock has been restored four times, but the original clock was installed in the late 1400’s. The present day clock was restored in 1999. The current music during the procession is from the 16th century. The figures that go through the doors five times a day are historical Polish figures and were made in the 1950’s by the folk sculptor, Ladislaus Kozyra.

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The next post will talk about the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, Poland and what you can see and visit today.

** Interested in a photo on this travel blog about Krakow? You can purchase a photo of Krakow, Poland on The Monica Store by clicking here.

*** For more photographs about Krakow, Poland click here for stock images of Krakow which are also available as prints.

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Visiting Wawel Castle and Cathedral in Krakow, Poland

Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland by Monica Goslin

The travel blog series about Krakow, Poland continues with: Visiting Wawel Castle and Cathedral in Krakow, Poland

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After seeing the main square in Krakow, Poland you should set off to see the Wawel Castle.

 The Wawel Castle was built for King Casimir III the Great and rebuilt by Jadwiga of Poland (late 14th century monarch of Poland) who made many additions including more towers and defense walls. The 16th century brought about more reconstruction and additions to the castle. After World War I the Polish Second Republic designated the Wawel Castle as a building of the Polish state to be used by the Governor and President. In 1921 the castle became the official residence of the President of Poland until it became a national museum after World War II.

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Visiting the Wawel Castle – You can actually see a lot of the castle by walking around the grounds. I actually only visited the castle cathedral and the small historical museum across from the cathedral. The signs and ticket booths for the Wawel Castle were complicated and involved having a reservation (seemingly days in advance) and tickets were sold out right in the morning. Unfortunately I found this to be the case in a few other locations as well. Nevertheless getting tickets to see the Wawel Cathedral was much easier and doable, see details below. I highly recommend seeing the cathedral if you aren’t able to get tickets to the castle, and if you figure out how to get castle tickets let me know!

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 Wawel Cathedral – Cathedral Basilica of St. Stainslaw and Vaclav in Krakow

 The Wawel Cathedral is right in the heart of the Wawel Castle grounds and appears to be a jumble of small buildings and towers with an interesting interior with hundreds of years of history.

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Fun Facts about the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland

 –          The Wawel Cathedral was the coronation site of Polish monarchs.

–          The current Wawel Cathedral was constructed in the 14th century with two previous churches occupying the site in the 11th and 12th century.

–          Over the main alter is a black marble canopy; underneath it lies the silver coffin of St. Stainslaw. Stainslaw was a Bishop of Krakow in the 11th century who was martyred by King Boleslaw II the Bold.

–          The Wawel Cathedral is the burial site for Polish monarchs. You can visit the crypts and see the tombs of the Polish monarchs as far back as the 14th century. The crypt also holds the tombs of generals, national heroes, poets, revolutionaries, and other important leaders.

–          In front of the Wawel Cathedral is a monument to John Paul II.

The overall church is impressive and steeped in history. Each chapel is different and the artistic quality is astounding.

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*My favorite chapel is Queen Sophia’s Chapel, with murals by Wlodzimierz Tetmajer, which reminded me of Alphonse Mucha’s work. You are not permitted to take photos in the Wawel Cathedral and sadly I was unable to find any postcards or books on it that fully covered the church and especially highlighted the Queen Sophia Chapel, so I simply have to remember it. But if you are an art history buff or a fan of Mucha’s work, make sure you see Queen Sophia’s Chapel.

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The Bell Towers of the Wawel Cathedral – Your tour of the Wawel Cathedral is along a directed route and includes a climb up the bell tower. Note that the climb up the bell tower is narrow, dark, and steep!

There are actually two towers with 8 bells, the most famous is the Sigismund Bell at the top, and there is a clock tower as well. The bells were all made at different times but dates range from the 12th to the 17th centuries. Each bell has a plaque next to it which tells you the technical data such as the weight and dimensions of the bells.

The Sigismund Bell has a total weight of 12,600 kg and has to be rung by twelve bell-ringers! The sound range of the Sigismund Bell is said to be 186 miles/30km! Read more about the Sigismund Bell by clicking here for the official website of the Wawel Cathedral where you can also hear a sample of the tolling bells!  The bells are still used today to mark special occasions and holidays.

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* Ticket to see the Wawel Cathedral – Admission to the Wawel Cathedral is free but you need tickets to enter the bell tower, the royal tombs, and the Cathedral Museum which is the building across from the cathedral. Tickets are 12zt for one person.

For the official website of the Wawel Cathedral click here and read more about it! The website is very informative and full of great photos!

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The next post will talk about the University of Krakow!

** Interested in a photo on this travel blog about Krakow? You can purchase a photo of Krakow, Poland on The Monica Store by clicking here.

*** For more photographs about Krakow, Poland click here for stock images of Krakow which are also available as prints.

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