Time now to go back to Poland. After our return from Kazimierz Dolny, Phyl and I took a train trip to Krakow for a short visit. I have to say, I loved the Polish train – I think it’s the European thing to have the separate, enclosed rooms, and it felt quite elegant. On that trip, we met some lovely people and I still have the business card from one of our train “roommates” – prof. dr. Zofia Sokolewicz, who was the director of the Warsaw University Centre for Europe.
On to Krakow!
Phyl in the lobby of our hotel
If memory serves correctly, these streets were near the Market Square, The Rynek. Originally laid out in 1257 after the Mongol hordes swept through the city, the square was built in the Gothic style, and renovated to the Renaissance style in the 1500s. At 200 meters square, it was the largest marketplace in Europe.
The Market Square was the commercial and social heart of Krakow, an emporium of the Black Sea trade. Down the center of the market structure runs Cloth Hall, where the items for sale now are primarily tourist oriented, but one can readily imagine the spices, elegant cloths and furniture items that would have been offered “back in the day”.
Many of the buildings in The Rynek are very grand, and were the palaces of the aristocracy.
The gem of the marketplace is the Church of the Virgin Mary with its two unequal spires. Legend has it that when the two brothers who were building the church quarreled and one was killed, the steeple of the murdered brother miraculously grew and overtook the other. The knife the brother was supposedly killed with hangs on chains in the Cloth Hall. According to the brochure I picked up while in Krakow, inside the church, which was begun in the 13th century, you can see one of the most magnificent altarpieces in Europe. This altarpiece was carved by Wit Stwosz in the 15th century, and is a gilded and painted wooden polyptych 36 feet high and 42 feet across when fully open. It presents the saints whose faces are reputedly those of past Cracovian burghers. The job took 12 years to complete.
My note taking being inadequate to say the least, I am not certain if this is the altar, but it seems likely that it is. Phyl, if you are listening, do you remember?
Tomorrow there will be more of Krakow.
I especially love the photograph of the street vendors with the colorful umbrellas and vivid flowers.
My husband tells a folk tale, “The Magician of Krackow,” and now I can picture the setting in my mind. I love the history, too. Thanks for sharing, Carol.
It’s odd how such romantic architecture has come about by such gruesome means. Either way, the history is interesting and the buildings beautiful.
I enjoyed reading this and glad that there is more to come. I really like the first photo.
I love these kinds of legends about murder and intrigue and why buildings are shaped as they are. Thanks for taking us along on this trip to Poland, Carol. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there myself. 🙂
It was fun to revisit this, now that I’ve actually been to the places in your post!