On the road – a chilly November weekend in Kraków – some sightseeing

Let me continue sharing memories, now about the sights I visited: I said hello to some churches, to the Art Nouveau around Uliza Retoryka, to the Wisla and to the Wawel castle, learnt about Galicia, discovered an excellent small wine shop and found a pretty book about Krakówian legends.


Sightseeing – saying hello to some churches, Art Nouveau around Uliza Retoryka, the Wisla and the Wawel

Kraków is the town of churches. Most visible is the gothic Saint Marie’s church on the Rynek where the hejnal signals the hours with his trumpet (I found him on youtube, he stops in the middle of the tune, because his colleague-hejnal was shot by a Mongolian arrow about 800 years ago – exactly at this moment the tune stops, as legend says)…


… also on the Rynek are the Saint Barbara’s church (same age as the Saint Maria church) and the romanesque small Saint Adalbert church. On Gródski, I like the baroque Saint Peter and Paul’s church with the adjacent romanesque Saint Andrew’s church – and there are many, many more churches. I join the prayers and stand still for a moment to meditate – on Friday to welcome Kraków and on Sunday to warm up in a double sense (my heart and my body temperature). I am particularly impressed how the Saint Peter and Paul’s church changes – sometimes there are concerts, on Thursdays, they demonstrate the Foucault pendulum – and now the priest reads his sermon with solemnity.

Art Nouveau can be found beyond the boundaries of the old city center (Stare Miasto). I say hello to some of the Art Nouveau houses around Uliza Retoryka in Piasek. The fact that this town has an “Ulica Retoryka” indicates that it is really a traditional university town – the Kraków university was founded in 1364.


The houses I say hello to are the Hutten-Czapskich Palace, the house under the Owl and the house under the Singing Frog which is part of a whole block of Art Nouveau buildings.


I discover details that I had not noticed before, such as this horse head…


… or the inscription of the architect: “Fecit Theodorus Talowski Architectus”… the Architect Theodorus Talowski made it.


Uliza Retoryka ends at the Wisla. This is the river that connects up Kraków and Warszawa.  I might book this boat tour when I come back in summer.


Crossing the Wawel hill with the castle I return to my hotel. Radek waits for me to take me out for lunch. But first he proposes some culture in a warm place – the exhibition about Galicia.



Some more sightseeing: Learning about Galicia

The International Cultural Center on Rynek has curated an excellent exhibiton about the myth of Galicia.  This is the motto of the exhibition: “Galicia no longer exists. It disappeared from the map of Europe in 1918 together with the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, whose province it had been. Yet, it still lives as a imagined space in the collective imagination and memory. The Krakow exhibition seeks to answer the question about the source and contemporary condition of the myth, trying to find out why literature, visual arts, and film still refer to it, while Galicia itself is used as an attractive brand.” The exhibiton displays art works, archive materials, and artefacts and places them in the historical context. The first part shows how the myth of the multinational region emerged in the Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish perspective. At the end of the 18th century, Poland was divided up and Galicia (with Krakow) became a province of Austria, for roughly 150 years. The detection of oil reservoirs and the construction of railways helped develop the economy of this poor and remote province of Austria-Hungary. In 1918 the province of Galicia ceased to exist. It was divided up and Kraków with Malopolska became part of Poland.

Well, in a way Galicia still exists as a label – remember the Grzaniec Galicyjski or Galician hot wine from the barrels on the Christmas market?


Great experience, thank you, Radek for this food for thought before having food for our stomachs.


Discovering the excellent wineshop “Francuski Gąsiorek”

As we expect more guests for the Fondue party than first planned, Radek takes me to the Francuski Gąsiorek to buy a bottle of crispy wine. We stand in the cold wind in front of the locked gate.


The shop opens at twelve. A young man comes and unlocks the gate. We enter with him and find an excellent selection of wine in the cellar: French wines from Burgundy, the Loire Valley, the Rhone Valley, Languedoc and the Alscace. Just having come back from Burgundy, I feel tempted to buy the Appelation Village de Savigny-Les-Beaune (not possible in the hand luggage, when flying back). He has nice Chablis 1er Crus from Côte de Léchet and Beauroy. In addition, gems from Germany are on sale, from Franconia (Silvaner in Boxbeutel bottle) and Rheinhessen (I see Gewürztraminer and Riesling). The young wine dealer is proud of his wine cellar and knows what he has. He explains that his Gewürztraminer from the Alsace differs from the Gewürztraminer in Rheinhessen. The first has residual sugar, the second is much drier. Yes, I have experienced that as well. His eyes shine happily, when I discover the Boxbeutel; he points to the right most Boxbeutel bottle which he prefers. He proposes a Viognier from Languedoc for our Fondue and I buy his last bottle of Crémant d’Alsace for Piotrek’s new apartment.

Back home I find out that “gasiorek” means “male goose”, but here it means demijohn (in German Ballonflasche). What does a male goose have in common with huge bottles?

I find a blog about this new wine shop (in Polish). Great shop – I will surely come back.


The Collegium Maius – and legends of Kraków

I stop by in the courtyard of the venerable Collegium Maius, the university from the 14th century. A group of tourists listen to their guide – shifting from one foot to the other. Yes, it is cold.


The museum shop is open. I enter it (it is warmer here) and find a pretty small book about legends from Kraków or “Krakauer Legenden”. On the cover is the Lajkonik (the Krakówians make fun of the Mongolians that could not conquer their city).

Krakauer Legenden Titelblatt

The book contains ten legends that are nicely illustrated, among them the legend about the trumpeter of Saint Marie’s church, the Hejnal, and the legend about the towers of Saint Marie’s church (why they are not the same size, the reason is envy between two brothers). Kraków is full of legends. This book will accompany me on my next visit.

2 thoughts on “On the road – a chilly November weekend in Kraków – some sightseeing

  1. Paul D. Reigrotzki says:

    Liebe Petra

    Das ist doch wohl keine Pferdekopf (horse head), sondern ein Stier- (bull head)oder Ochsenkopf (ox head).

    Lese deine Berichte gern.

    Liebe Grüsse Paul

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