Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kraków w świetle dziennym

[ Krakow in the daylight ]

After the exciting tour the evening before with Kraków literally wisping by as we cruised on the Vespa, I may have been exhausted, but I didn’t immediately go to sleep. We all had to skype back to America to say hello. I excitedly dialed Babcia first and was so proud and happy to greet her with “Babcia! I am finally here!”

It was really special for me and sharing with Babcia all the places I was going to see and family I was going to meet. Being able to share my excitement with her is really one of the most incredible feelings for me. My only hope now is for her to come sometime this year to Europe and I can share this excitement with her in person – something I know would be an incredible opportunity in my life.

[ The Market Square by day ]

The next morning, after a short, but much needed few hours of sleep, I was up and ready to experience the city outside of the shadows. Kaśka had to go to work, but Michał and I were going to tour the city a little and then meet her for lunch.

Only a few minutes out from the apartment, I was in the mix of Kraków and immediately realizing just how different everything was from Germany. At first glance it is still similarly European with small cars, tight clusters of living quarters and shops, little vendors of fresh bread. Even so, it felt different. The people walked with a different air, the environment functioned differently. Maybe it was the people making a dash across the clear street when the light was red, or maybe it was seeing little Babcias walking around with baskets and little headscarves crossing paths with a young woman clacking the cobblestones in attention-grabbing heels.

There were corners not as clean as Germany, and signs that there were still efforts to rebuild this country after decades of struggle were common, but just the wave of something new and different catching my attention was a breath of fresh air. Maybe it was my excitement of wanting to capture everything I could see and learn in Poland, or maybe it is undeniably inescapable and the first impression of this great Polish city reveals itself as a historical hub of culture, a city scarred by a tragic history, and modern times represented by the efforts to build the city to its highest potential side by side with the appetite for western commercial culture.

Adding to the sensory overload was the barrage of Polish everywhere that was resurrecting hours of studying during my first year of UofM seeing my vocabulary come to life around me



sklep spożywczy

… Ulica

This was in addition to the fact that I was rapidly recalling Polish grammar as it was spoken around me, but unfailingly only German could come out of my mouth in response. Ja… I mean Tak

As if just staring at the people and shops on the street weren’t enough to make me lost in thought we had just arrived at Wawel – The most important castle in all of Poland. Scratch my initial sensory overload – it starts now.

Michał and I were only walking around the castle, and it was more history than I could handle. Wawel is the most important castle in Poland because it was where the kings of its royal past would reside and coronations would take place. The cathedral connected to the castle is where many members of Polish royalty as well as other distinguished citizens are buried.

Around the castle were many tours of Polish students led by their teachers, and aside from the great views of the Vistula river and the grand towers of the castle, before even entering the huge construction, there was so much to say about the castle and its outside landscape.

There is nothing really uniform about the castle at all when viewing it as one cohesive building. There are many different types of rocks, colors, designs – it is almost a puzzle of different parts cemented together. This is where I find the history so fascinating, because the construction of the castle never stopped. Pre-dating even the 11th century, the first constructions of the castle were built for the residence of the royal family as Kraków became the capital of Poland at the time. As the centuries past, more additions were added on creating a compilation of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque in addition to its ancient crypts. The result is a castle so unique that every turn is a new architecture and masterpiece of its era in European history.

For a castle that proudly displays the beauty of the past centuries of European architecture, as well as the revered burial grounds for so many important figures of this country’s past, it goes without question that the connected cathedral is a treasure in itself.

Photo from:www.katedra-wawelska.pl

No pictures are allowed inside, but even so I doubt they would serve it justice – there were details everywhere, paintings, gold, statues, crests, treasures, gated off holy chambers flickering with candlelight, and narrow stairwells leading to tombs of the royal family. It was truly incredible.

photo from:www.katedra-wawelska.pl

With all the details, and little platelets of information along the walls beside national treasures, I am sure that an entire blog could be written just exploring the Cathedral or the outdoor castle grounds – notice how I haven’t even gotten inside the castle yet? That tour is for another day!

1 comment:

  1. this cathedral resembles the ones in russia much more so than those in germany...interesting, i suppose.