11 Little-known Facts about Krakow for TravelersRuss Bily
Today’s Krakow is an integral synthesis of history and modernity. Arriving in the city guests can spend time not only exploring many sights of the city but also sit in charming cafes, pubs, and restaurants. Only in the oldest city, there are more than 200 cafes.
Krakow cabaret, concert halls, and theaters hospitably open the doors for spectators and connoisseurs of high art. It is no accident that in 2000 Krakow was elected as the European capital of culture.
According to the opinion of tourists visiting the city, Krakow got the fifth place among the most visited European cities in 2005. For many centuries, culture and science have flourished in Krakow.
In this article, we present you 11 interesting facts about Krakow to fuel your curiosity and wish to visit this city even more.
Then let’s get started!
1. The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary
On one of the towers of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary – every hour Mary’s hymn is performed, the melody which is always interrupted in the same place.
This symbolizes the legend of the trumpeter, who in 1240, with the sounds of music, wanted to warn the townspeople about the attacking enemy, but was shot.
2. The Chapel of the Condemned
Krakow is a city of churches, which is especially visible in its historical center. Already in the Middle Ages, the inhabitants of the city willingly gave themselves into the hands of the Saints, who would protect them and help them in all life problems.
Krakow brought the relics and remains of saints from other countries. Thus, there was an opinion that everyone here will find support for a particular Saint.
In the Basilica of St. Mary, to the left of the entrance, there is the chapel of St. Anthony. It was in this place that the convicts spent their last night before the execution of the public punishment.
For this reason, the chapel was called the Chapel of the Condemned (Kaplica Skazańców). They say that their hot prayers were heard, as their fate suddenly changed during the punishment.
This place became known and widespread. Today people come here with their problems and requests. They believe that Saint Anthony will listen to their prayers, as he once listened to the prayers of the condemned.
3. And All Your Prayers Will Be Heard…
In the Kraków district of Kazimierz, on Augustine Street, the largest Gothic church of Kraków is located – the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Margarita. In this church, there is a chapel of Our Lady of Consolation, known as a place where all your prayers are sure to be heard.
Not far from the altar stands a small coffin with relics of the professor of the Krakow Academy, Izayasha Bonera (XVI century). He was engaged in science, charity and good deeds. He had the gift of healing even the victims of the plague.
In the side passage of the church stands a statue of St. Rita. This Holy, who lived in the XV century, became the patroness of complex cases and issues. She died in 1447, and in the 17th century, she became blessed. In 1900, Pope Leo XIII ranked it to the saints. Her symbol is the flower of a white or pink rose.
4. Sigismund Bell
Sigismund Bell, hanging in the bell tower of Wawel Cathedral and weighing 11 tons, rings only on the most important holidays in Poland.
Besides this fact, an interesting legend is related to this bell. Many young people are upset that they do not have their love. In Krakow, this problem can be solved with the help of this bell.
In order to change your marital status, you have to climb the numerous wooden steps to the Sigmund tower. Climb it very quietly, and when you get to the very top, touch the bell tongue with your right hand.
Girls are more inclined to this method. Guys, in turn, are realists and try to change their marital status in more traditional ways. Of course, it’s a legend. The fact is that Sigismund Bell is a historical monument, which is undesirable to touch upon.
5. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine”
In Wawel Castle, there is an exhibition of one painting. It is the original painting by Leonardo da Vinci “Lady with an Ermine.” Only five other cities in the world can boast a painting by da Vinci, so don’t even think about letting this opportunity pass by.
For centuries this world-famous painting disappeared off the map. Then in 1800, Adam Czartoryski, the Polish prince, bought the portrait during a holiday in Italy.
In Poland, it formed part of the family’s Pulawy art collection until the 1830 Warsaw Insurrection when it was moved to Paris. The Lady returned to Poland in 1876 and was housed in the Czartoryski Museum.
In 1939, with German panzers roaring across the border, the picture was hidden in a box and spirited away from Kraków. Eventually discovered by pesky Nazis it temporarily formed part of Hitler’s Berlin art collection, before ending up in Wawel as the property of Hans Frank – Kraków’s Nazi commandant.
With Soviet troops closing in the picture was sneaked back to Germany, where American soldiers finally confiscated it and returned it home to Kraków in 1946. The painting has since become one of the city’s most loved treasures.
6. The Location of Spielberg’s Film
Steven Spielberg’s famous film “Schindler’s List” was filmed in one of the Jewish districts of Krakow – in Kazimierz. Many houses in this area are still decorated with the stars of David, the atmosphere of that time exude ancient synagogues, shops, and cafes offering Jewish dishes.
The movie was made in Krakow, as it is one of the few Polish cities to escape devastation during World War II, and listed by UNESCO as one of the world’s great historic cities. Nothing, though, remains of Plaszów labor camp, which stood on the slope of Krzemionki Hill, to the east of the old town.
The church, where the Jews meet clandestinely, is Krakow’s most important church, the brick Gothic 14th century Church of St Mary, alongside the Main Market Square.
7. The Largest Trading Area in Europe
The trading area in Krakow is the most massive trading area in Europe, reminiscent of the Middle Ages (each side of it reaches 200 meters in length).
The center stage of Krakow’s Rynek Główny is the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice). Built in the 14th century this huge hall was effectively the first shopping mall in the world. To this day it is still crammed with merchant stalls selling amber, lace, woodwork and assorted tourist.
8. Planty Wall
The most popular place for resting among the locals is the old boulevard, which is called the Planty. It is planted with trees that are two hundred years old.
At the end of the 18th century, the decision was taken to pull down some of the defensive walls surrounding the oldest part of Krakow. Many inhabitants of the city didn’t like it and protested against the idea.
However, the fate of Krakow’s city fortifications was doomed. What was left behind was only a piece of walls next to the Florian Gate. It was saved by the defenders of the old fortifications, who threatened the councilors that the strong mountain wind when it gets to Krakow, will raise skirts of their wives, as it will no longer meet any large obstacles in a form of walls.
However, fortifications were pulled down. People started walking across the empty squares, and soon these places became popular walking areas, which required some kind of control.
The symbolic birth of contemporary Planty was planting an elm – the “Freedom Tree” on 3rd May 1892 to celebrate the anniversary of the Constitution. Since 1815, trees had been systematically planted around the Old City, thus creating a different type of wall.
9. Krakow’s Analog to the Tower of Pisa
Krakow has its analog of the Tower of Pisa—the tower of the Town Hall. Although it leaned from its base by only 55 cm, because of the high height of the 70-meter tower, the deviation is well marked.
It looks like a clock tower, but at one time was part of a great town hall structure which was hauled down in 1820. As it leans, it is Krakow’s answer to the leaning tower of Pisa.
10. A Piece of Italy in the Most Beautiful Area of Salwator
A winding alley that goes uphill, is built up by beautiful villas with huge verandas and turrets. In the gardens between the street and the houses, there are completely Mediterranean thickets.
Silence, calmness, and the impression that a breeze blows from the roofs from the Tyrrhenian or the Adriatic Sea.
11. Krakow – the City of Students
It is here that the most famous and oldest Polish university is located—Jagiellonian University, founded in the XIV century.
Not surprisingly, a quarter of Krakow’s residents are students studying not only at the Jagiellonian University but also in numerous prestigious universities of Krakow.
The number of higher education institutions is simply enormous. Students have all possible conditions for comfortable living, studying in several languages, many facilities for leisure and sports.
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What attracts visitors to Krakow?
First of all, the charm of old streets and squares, the solemn nobility of unique churches, the cordial welcome of residents, as well as the unique atmosphere of its cafes and restaurants.
Krakow is not only history but also numerous monuments of architecture. It is also a city that has its secrets, legends, and places with an amazing atmosphere.
It is difficult to describe Krakow in several sentences. A person can live in this city the whole life but does not know all its secrets. However, if you want to understand and know Poland, you should start with Krakow, for it is its soul.