A little history lesson on this awesome city. Krakow was Poland's Capitol for oer 500 years, it has been in existence since the 7th century as a settlement and then grew into the most amazing science and art center in the country. The architecture is amazing and the history can be felt everywhere you turn.
St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow was rebuilt in 14th century. It is famous for its Gothic architecture and wooden altar. From the tower of the basilica every hour on the hour a trumpet hymn is played. It stops mid note as a tradition to commemorate the trumpeter who was sounding a warning during the Mongol attack (13th century). the hymn is played in its entirety once a day at noon.
Cloth Hall a trading center which was constructed in operation since the 1300s, you can get the most beautiful trinkets and keep sakes from the little stores in this 700 year old mall.
Little park just to add more beauty to the city. All in all we spent one day in Krakow and could have probably spend a week and not seen all that there is to see from museums and galleries just to the flavor of the town. What a gem.
Wieliczka - salt mine
This is one of the most incredible places in the world, where you experience the force of nature and the strength and determination of man working together and creating something truly amazing. The mine began forming about 13.5 million years ago. The mining activities started in the middle ages and continued until 1996. There are two stories as to how the mine formed you are welcome to choose which you believe:
In the Miocene period , the crystallization of salt from sea water present in the area began. The salt and rocks filled the area known as the Pre-Carpathian Sink. Later due to tectonic activities and the rise of Carpathian mountains Saliferous deposits were shifted and folded. Thus there are two layers of salt in Wieliczka, the upper is the block type and the lower is stratified.
The other story is that in the middle ages a prices from Hungaria named Kinga was promised in marriage to the ruler over the area where Wieliczka is the King of Krakow. She very much loved the man and wanted her father to give her a good dowry. Answering her request the Hungarian king gave his daughter a salt mine in Hungry. Since the princess could not take the mine with her she saw it as useless and out of frustration threw her engagement ring in the salt mine. Once she married the King and moved to Poland she asked people to dig where Wieliczka is now. The miners dug finding salt and upon further excavation they have found Kinga's engagement ring and returned it to their queen. Kinga has become the guardian angel of miners in the Krakow area.
We visited multiple castles and a heritage village while in Poland. I love to see and learn how people used to live and the things they used to build shelter and later to make furniture. Here are the few castles that we visited in Poland, there are many many more that are worth seeing but those will come on the next visit to Europe.
Top Birow is the oldest castle reconstruction that we visited. The original encampment dates back to the 4th and 5th century, later in the 9th century it was built to be a castle for the wealthy land owner and it looked like the reconstruction you see today. The castle is located in the Krakow - Czestochowa Upland in the Eagles' Nest Trail. The Eagles' Nest Trail is a chain of castles built in the 14th century on the boarder of Poland and Silesia.
As you can see from this picture this castle just like the others is a straight up on a mountain with treacherous sides. It amazes me how people got the large tree trunks up there to build this encampment with no heavy equipment to aid. This was all done by hand.
The front of the castle
Flavors of Polska
My visit to Poland started with several weeks of family time and outings; we visited historic castles and the zoo, as well as visiting some of my corners that I frequented as a child. All of this will come, but first I want to share with you the pictures from Warszawa (Warsaw).
I traveled 1st class via train from Silesia to Warszawa to meet up with my husband who flew in from France after visiting Normandy.
My evening in Warszawa was spend with my childhood friend. We went to elementary school together so we date back well over 20 years. Our friendship withstood miles of physical separation and when we finally found ourselves in one room there was no stopping the chatting and catching up over a glass of wine. It was so lovely to have this time with her to meet her husband and beautiful daughters, for the 1st time. My son made fast friends with her girls right away and they somehow managed to communicate in both Polish and English and played splendidly (now they demand to Skype - maybe a new friendship has formed).
The day in Warszawa was full of amazing sites and little history lessons. I am not good at history, honestly I don't have a head for dates, but find the stories fascinating, my husband on the other hand has studied up on Polska in general and thus had great understanding of the history of Warszawa and had a ton of questions. Thank you to my dear friends for answering them all.
We started by visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A little history lesson - it was 1st constructed in 1923 to commemorate the soldiers who fell in World War I. Ever since there have been urns with soil from battle grounds added from conflicts where Polish soldiers fought. There are two armed guards at the site at all times with the exception of occupation during World War II at which time the Tomb was destroyed with the exception of one section by Wehrmacht
The Palace of Culture and Science is a very impressive building that was built by Soviet Union in Poland during communism. In 1990 Poland gained political autonomy, but the building remains housing museums, food courts, community center and even a pool.