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Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Czartoryski Museum - A Piece Of Polish Soul

Dearest friends,

You may not know much about Polish history but you may know the name of Leonardo da Vinci - the famous artist and inventor. Well, you may or may not also know that the delicate painting of "The Lady with an Ermine" is part of the Polish patrimonium. In 1798, Princess Izabela Czartoryska 's son - Prince Adam Jerzy,  travelled to Italy and bought the famous painting by Leonardo and Raphael's "Portraits of a Young Man".
The Princess met in Paris, in 1772, with Benjamin Franklin, J.J. Rousseau and Voltaire,  who at that time they were bringing new ideas into the old order. The idea of  museum of polish art came in the time where Poland no longer existed on the map, but the Princess wanted to still preserve the Polish nationalistic spirit, with the hope that Poland would one day come again as one on the map of the world.
The Czartoryski Museum was founded in 1796 by Princess Izabela Czartoryska to preserve the Polish heritage in keeping with the Princess' motto: "The Past to the Future". In 1843 her son bought The Hotel Lambert which became the Living Museum of Poland.  Prince Wladyslaw Czartoryski - the son of Adam Jerzy - decided in 1870 to move over the collections to Krakow, where they arrived in 1876. He was a born collector, extended the family collection and took over the museum. Along with his sister they helped include to the list: the Polonaise carpet, Etruscan and Greek vases, Roman and Egyptian antiquities and different types of arms and armours.
In Kraków they were given a small palace close to the main market square, just at the entrance of Florianska street, next to the defence walls. Today the museum is administered by the Princes Czartoryski Foundation setup by Prince Adam Karol in 1991. With around 12,000 visitors a year it is one of the most visited museums in Kraków. It is ranked by TripAdvisor as #90 out of 127 Attractions in Krakow (as per year 2014) with a total of 75% positive feedback comments. It is also featured on the "3 days in Krakow" guide.
Part of the museum is still under renovation, ever since I came to Poland almost 4 years ago. They have moved "The Lady with an Ermine" to the Wawel Castle where the exodus of tourists is ever flowing. The only open section of the museum right now is the Gallery of Ancient Art - located on the Defence Wall at the beginning of the Florianska street.
The Grand Room of the Gallery of Ancient Art
The gallery is quite small - consisting of a very large room, as you can see in the pictures - but it is fully packed with a lot of artefacts. For me it is priceless and reaches my childhood years when I was fascinated by the Greeks and by Ancient Egypt. It is enough to say - for the fans like myself - that there are 3 human mummies + 1 cat mummy + 1 bird mummy + portions of The Book of the Dead (with translations both in Polish and English)!!! I have been there 4 times until now and I would do it again any day!
The Mummy Of A Cat - The African Fallow Cat
A bit more informations about the Czartoryski collection:
  • Closed for remodeling till  2015, part of the museum's collections being moved to the Niepolomice castle for an exhibition there open from April 2010.
  • Gallery of Antique Art in the Arsenal at 8 Pijarska street is open every day except Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine is to be temporarily displayed in Krakow's Wawel Royal Castle probably till the reopening of the Czartoryski Museum.
When it comes to the price of the tickets, I can tell you that whole Sunday it is for free :)  but any other day the regular ticket is 9 zloty and the one with discount - for elder or students - is  only 5 zloty (less than a beer!). Children under 7 years go for free, but I would not bring my kids there unless they would be history buffs or very much into ancient times... like I was :) Of course you can but the tickets only but the site is in Polish - they are constructing the English version as we speak. The eco-ticket bought is valid for 6 months since its purchase! You can buy it here. I recommend it for the Ancient History fans :) but also for people religious interested/oriented. The extracts from The Book of the Dead are very good and if you know your Bible, you can see similarities in the text. Enjoy it! as I always enjoy it immensly!

Yours truly,
A LadyBug That Enjoys Mummies ;)))