Friday, 12 August 2016

Exploring Krakow

We managed to schedule our holiday in lovely Krakow for the week before World Youth Day (incidentally, we ended up in Madrid the week after that city hosted World Youth Day in 2011, so maybe there’s a pattern to all of this).  The sun shone (mostly) and the city sparkled, and I took a million photos. 

We did a lot of wandering, eating and sitting where the sunshine met the shade (me in the sun, Geoff in the shade), and I’ve already blogged about the food (spoiler alert – all delicious).

We did rev ourselves up enough to visit a couple of museums, a cathedral and a castle.  Geoff’s favourite  was the armoury room at the Castle. The armoury had a pretty good selection of ancient guns and shields and the like, but the best were the swords from across Old Europe. From the curved sabres of the Ottoman Empire, to the still gleaming ornate swords of the Prussians, and plenty more, it was like a Eurovision Sword Contest. Britain, nil poi! The cannons were pretty sweet too.

While I was impressed with the jewellery in the armoury room, my favourite was the bell tower that is inside the Cathedral – it’s an optional extra (along with the royal crypts) in the Cathedral.  There are 2 sets of incredibly steep wooden stairs, though each is only a few flights high and there are landings to rest at on the way.  You have to remember to duck under the beams, and the bells in places, as you climb, and then you come to the top with quite a good view over Krakow. 

I also really enjoyed parts of the exhibitions at MOCAK (contemporary art museum) – the ‘Medicine in Art’ didn’t really appeal, but the Andy Warhol installation was cool to explore, and their permanent collection is impressive.  Even the building itself is interesting, if a bit brutal.

We also went to Schindler’s Factory – an expectedly bleak exploration of the Nazi occupation and oppression of Poland, and it touched on the Soviet involvement as well.  

Probably the most moving aspect was over at the former Gestapo headquarters where we stood in the cells used by the Nazis.  The small museum attached told ‘everyday’ stories of arrests, torture and deportation, and was a sad, but important, experience. 

Finally we took the opportunity to step inside almost every church that we walked past, and were amazed to find beautifully ornate buildings just dotted throughout the city.

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