Kapoors Year 7: Europe/Ecuador/Peru travel blog

Once Again, We Rented A Local Apartment Through An OnLine Agency Called...

The Apartment Was Bright And Modern, Inside A 100-Year-Old Building, But The...

There Seemed To Be A Number Of Liquor Stores Near Us, We...

Within A Few Hours The Snow Had Almost Completely Melted And We...

We Walked Towards The Old Town Square, Surprised To See A Large...

At The North East Corner Of The Square Stands The Basilica Of...

The Two Towers Were Built During Different Periods In History And No...

I Peeked Inside Without Opting For The Touristy Tour And Was Stunned...

The Basilica Stands At An Angle To The Square, And This Cute...

We Walked Around Former Cloth Market And Found A Few Remnants Of...

This Elderly Man Is Taking His Time Crossing The Square, He Has...

The Previous Day's Snow Didn't Mean The Café Tables Are Put Away,...

We Headed North Out Of The Square Towards Florian's Gate, One Of...

The Walls Around The Old City Were Demolished Decades Ago, The Moat...

I Have Tons Of Photos Of Old Bastions On Medieval Walls, But...

Just Beyond The Florian Gate We Popped Into A Recommended Vegetarian Restaurant,...

Anil Was Hankering After Potato Pancakes, These Came With A Ragout, Yum!

Like So Many Other European Cities, There Are Restoration Projects Underway Everywhere

Here's A Ariel Photo Of The Wawel Castle I Found On The...

We Enjoyed The Music Played By This Gentleman As We Walked Up...

At The Top We Paused To Admire A Statue Of Someone Obviously...

I Scurried Around Another Statue Once I Was Inside The Gate, I...

When I Turned To Get A Better Look, It Was Someone I...

I Absolutely Loved The Mish-Mash Of Architectural Styles Crammed Together

The Castle Is Now A Series Of Museums, Each Requiring A Separate...

We Were Struck At How Early The Sun Sets Now That We...

Cheesy Stuffed Dragons Were EVERYWHERE, Rumour Has It That The Wawel Dragon...

We Happened Upon A Concert At Krakow's Oldest Church, We Nabbed Tickets...

We Were Tempted When We Learned That The First Violinist Was The...

We Were Chilly And A Little Hungry, So We Headed To The...

No Room For A Large Container Of Treats In Our Suitcase, So...

The Following Day We Visited A Popular 'Milk Bar', A Holdover Eatery...

The Food Is Cheap, Plentiful And Tasty, Who Knew There Was Something...

After Filling Our Bellies We Walked South Of The Castle, I Love...

We Wanted To Explore The Former Jewish Part Of The City, The...

Poland Is Famous For Its Wood Carvings, I Thought These Were Especially...

The Centre Of The Neighbourhood Is Plac Nowy, Very Run Down Now,...

This Multi-Sided Building Sits In The Middle Of The Square, I Can...

It Wasn't Completely Deserted Though, These Locals Passed Some Time Having A...

The Windows Open Into Small Stalls Selling Fast Foods, I'm Sure They...

One Can See There Is Probably A Thriving Market Here, But Mid-Week...

We Made Our Way Through The Small Streets Past Synagogues That Were...

This Sign Advertising Klezmer Music Features A Photo Of The Same Synagogue

Further On, The Streets Emptied Onto A Charming Square Very Near The...

The Gates Were Closed So We Headed To The 'New' Cemetery, Restored...

I Didn't Feel We Could Leave This Former Jewish Ghetto Without Seeing...

The Events Depicted In The Movie 'Schlinder's List' Took Place In Kraków...

The Jewish District Was Encircled By Tombstone-Shaped Walls

Schlindler's Factory Stood Just Outside The Ghetto, South Of Wawel Castle And...

A State-Of-The-Art Museum Has Been Established In The Old Factory And Is...

And Then We Decided To Walk All The Way Back To Our...

I Suspect That Far More Tourists Visit The 700-Year-Old Salt Mine, Than...

All Of The Caverns Were Created By Miners Digging Out The Salt,...

Forests Of Timbers Now Exist Underground To Shore Up The Remaining Sock...

The Miners Became Very Creative And Built Chapels And Grand Halls Deep...

The 'Crystal' In These Chandeliers Are Even Made Of Rock Salt

Tourists Were Invited In During The Late 1800s To Boat On Some...

W Couldn't Leave Krakow Without Seeing The Newly-Opened Underground Tour

When It Was Decided To Re-Pave The Old Town Square, Archeologists Discovered...

Centuries-Old Streets, Market Stall Walls, And Countless Artifacts Were Unearthed

Even The Remains Of Old Graves Complete With Skeletons Were Found, Now...

It Was Dark Above Ground Too When We Emerged From The Underground...

A Clear, Crisp Evening, What A Great View To Take Away With...


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BACKGROUND

In the interest of expediency, here are some excerpts from the Lonely Planet - Poland chapter on Kraków:

If you believe the legends, Kraków was founded upon the defeat of a dragon, and it’s true a mythical atmosphere permeates its attractive streets and squares.

Poland’s former royal capital has a suitably long back-story to match its beautiful historic appearance.

The first traces of the city’s existence date from the 7th century, and the earliest written record of the town dates from 966, when a Jewish merchant from Cordova called Abraham ben Jacob visited and referred to a trade centre called Krakwa.

Greatness was just around the corner; having been made a bishopric in 1000, Kraków became the capital of Poland in 1038, assuming the role from Poznań. This honour was the beginning of a rise in prestige and power. Wawel Castle and several churches were built in the 11th century and the town, originally centered on Wawel Hill, grew in size.

Setbacks were inevitable though, and in 1241 the Tatars burned Kraków almost to the ground. Spotting the silver lining, however, the townsfolk used the opportunity to redefine its layout, and by 1257 the new town’s centre had been set on a grid pattern, with a large market square in the middle.

Kraków became a member of the far-flung trading association the Hanseatic League, which attracted craftspeople and boosted trade. Nicolaus Copernicus, who would later develop his heliocentric view of the universe, studied here in the 1490s, symbolizing the city’s status as a centre of learning.

It was a fairytale story of progress and prosperity, and like all such tales had to come to an end. Kraków’s status slipped in 1596 when the capital was moved to Warsaw, though the city remained the site of coronations and burials. A series of Swedish invasions, beginning in 1655, accelerated the decline; and by the end of the following century the city’s population had been reduced by a third to 10,000.

In the Third Partition of Poland (1795), Kraków was sundered from most of Poland, becoming part of the Austrian province of Galicia. As the city enjoyed a measure of cultural and political freedom within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, by the end of the 19th century it had become the major cultural centre and spiritual capital of the vanished Poland.

Back within a united Poland after WWI, Kraków grew to a population of 260,000 inhabitants, 65,000 of whom were Jews. Tragedy was about to doubly strike the city; the German occupation of 1939 led both to the arrest and imprisonment of Kraków’s academic elite, and the herding of its Jewish citizens into a ghetto. Transported to Nazi work and extermination camps, most of them would never be seen again.

During WWII the city was thoroughly looted by the occupiers, but avoided being the scene of any major battles or bombings. As such, Kraków is virtually the only large Polish city that has retained its pre-war architecture and appearance intact.

After the war, the newly installed communist government established a huge steelworks, in an attempt to mould a more working-class city. The social engineering proved less potent than its un-anticipated by-product – ecological disaster. Monuments that had managed to survive invasions by Tatars, Swedes and Germans began gradually to be eroded by acid rain and toxic gas.

In 1978 the Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła, became Pope John Paul II, an elevation which remains a great source of pride for the city’s citizens. In the same year, the city’s Old Town was included in Unesco’s World Heritage list.


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