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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

FREE walking SPECIAL Her Story

Dearest hearts,

It is said that behind every great man there is a woman in the shadow, leading him. Also, there is a saying that if the men is considered to be the head of the family, than the heart belongs to the woman. Each year the wonderfully talented lads & lasses from Free Walking Tour Krakow host Free Walking Specials - like the Free Walking Tour Krakow - StreetArt. Each year, around the beginning of March, they ladies (and gents, of course, if they wish!) are invited for a very special tour called FREE walking SPECIAL Her Story. Unfortunately I could not join them until now, but this year - on the 28th of February - I had the chance to do it, and - as usual! - I did not regret it! :)
The tour started at 1:30pm in front of Saint Mary's Church and took up to 2 hours. There were only 5 of us - including myself - and the lovely guide, Alicja. I have had the chance of touring with her on multiple times and I like the way she is open to questions. She has great command of English language and manages to hold even larger groups from falling apart + she knows a lot of things about Krakow and places you get to visit. What I like about Free Walking Tour Krakow is that they consider the feedback from their clients and they also come with new tours each year. 
For example, Alicja's "new baby" for this year is a tour named "Where is Nowosielski?" - he was well known for his religious compositions (wall paintings, iconostases, polychromies) in the Orthodox Churches in Kraków, Białystok and Jelenia Góra, the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Cross at Wesoła, the Franciscan Church in the Azory district of Kraków, and the Greek Catholic Church in Lourdes, France. Nowosielski designed and erected the Church of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Biały Bór. He also painted portraits, landscapes, still life, and abstract pictures. His works are found in Polish museums and also in private collections in Canada, the USA, and Germany. In 1993 he was awarded a prize by the Polish cultural foundation Wielka Fundacja Kultury and received an honorary doctorate from the Jagiellonian University in 2000.
I will not tell you all the stories about all the lovely women of Krakow, but I will tell you a bit of it - just to make you come next year to the same tour or even select one of the new Free Walking Specials just out on the market :) The tour started with the story of Danuta Wesołowska - this wonderful lady did a research on the language used by people coming from the extermination camps (after they were released). Her topic was about the slang used on the concentration camp. She also did a dictionary based on that, that is used in further researches nowdays.
Also, did you know that the Krakow Planty - the green park-ring around the city - is one of the oldest public parks in Europe? That's true ;)  But Planty was not for the people that were not high born. Planty was for young ladies and gents to have a stroll and be fashionable. Park Jordana was created with the purpose of relaxation as at the time Planty was created people were not allowed to practice any sports there. At that time also Park Krakowski was created and there were located the tennis courts. That is where Jadwiga ("Jed") Jędrzejowska - who was born out of a poor family - started her ascension. Tennis - at that time - was also a game only for high born people, but she became the best tennis player of the time. According to Wallis Myers and John Olliff of The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail, Jędrzejowska was ranked in the world top ten from 1936 through 1939 (no rankings issued from 1940 through 1945), reaching a career high of World No. 3 in those rankings in 1937. Sadly, she died in 1980 in Katowice.
In 1894 the first women started her studies in Krakow Collegium Major - farmacy. Slowly, one by one, the Universities in Krakow gave rights also to women to come and join in and learn. Of course, law was the last one who joined in 1919 due to the Polish Constitution that stated that women are equal to men.
Helena Modjeska (October 12, 1840 – April 8, 1909), whose actual Polish surname was Modrzejewska (Polish pronunciation: [mɔdʐɛˈjɛfska], was a renowned actress who specialized in Shakespearean and tragic roles. She was also very popular in Holywood movies as  well.
On August 20, 1877 Modjeska debuted at the California Theatre in San Francisco in an English version of Ernest Legouvé's Adrienne Lecouvreur and also made her New York debut. She then spent three years abroad (1879–82), mainly in London, attempting to improve her English, before returning to the stage in America. Despite her accent and imperfect command of English, she achieved great success. During her career she played nine Shakespearean heroines, Marguerite Gautier in Camille, and Schiller's Maria Stuart. In 1883, the year she obtained American citizenship, she produced Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House in Louisville, Kentucky, the first Ibsen play staged in the United States. In the 1880s and 1890s she had a reputation as the leading female interpreter of Shakespeare on the American stage.
In 1893 Modjeska was invited to speak to a women's conference at the Chicago World's Fair, and described the situation of Polish women in the Russian and Prussian-ruled parts of dismembered Poland. This led to a Tsarist ban on her traveling in Russian territory. Modjeska suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed in 1897, but recovered and soon returned to the stage, continuing to perform for several additional years. During her last stay in Poland, from October 31, 1902 to April 28, 1903, she appeared on the stage in Lwów, Poznań and her native Kraków.
On May 2, 1905, she gave a jubilee performance in New York City. Then she toured for two years and ended her acting career, afterward only appearing sporadically in support of charitable causes. Modjeska died at Newport Beach, California on April 8, 1909, aged 68, from Bright's disease. Her remains were sent to Kraków to be buried in the family plot at the Rakowicki Cemetery. Her autobiography, Memories and Impressions of Helena Modjeska, was published posthumously in 1910. A Polish translation ran that same year in the Kraków newspaper, Czas (Time). The last Polish edition of the book appeared in 1957. Modrzejewska's son, Rudolf Modrzejewski (Ralph Modjeski), was a civil engineer who gained fame as a designer of bridges. 
!!! FACT:  When she visited Poland she was so lovely that the painters wanted to immortalise her. And they did! If you will go to the museum above Sukiennice you can find her there - the lady in a beautiful white dress and with a black dog ;)
Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska (2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Prowent, which has since become part of Kórnik, she later resided in Kraków until the end of her life. She is described as a "Mozart of Poetry". In Poland, Szymborska's books have reached sales rivaling prominent prose authors: although she once remarked in a poem, "Some Like Poetry" ("Niektórzy lubią poezję"), that no more than two out of a thousand people care for the art.
Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality".She became better known internationally as a result of this. Her work has been translated into English and many European languages, as well as into Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese. 
!!! FACT: When she was not yet well know, living in Krakow in a small flat, her house was named by her friends "Szymborska's drawers" as she was so very much fond of them. When she managed to get a bigger flat, at the time of her death they counted over 600 drawers!
In 2012 Krakow National Museum helped open the exhibition hold now in Plac Szcepanski. It was supposed to stay only for a year but due to its large number of participants it was prolongued until this end of the year - December 2015. It is totally worth visiting and I must admit we spent a large part of the tour there. She had a large collection of knick-knacks... she was indeed a big collector. She also liked postcards - a lot! And she used to create her own :) - you can see some in the pictures above, with the translation from Polish over them.
Helena Modrzejewska & The Paiting that can be found in the museum above Sukienicce
Jadwiga (1373/4 – 17 July 1399) was the very first female king of Poland from 1384 to her death. She was a member of the Capetian House of Anjou, the daughter of king Louis I of Hungary and Elizabeth of Bosnia. Queens regnant being relatively uncommon in Europe at the time, Jadwiga was officially crowned a "king" (rex) rather than "queen" (regina).
!!! FACT: Jadwiga was over 180 cm tall and had small hips - at a time when the average height of a girl would be around 160 + due to the small hips she was not able to have children, hence died in childbirth... Unfortunately there was not even talk of c-section back then...
***
I knew some stories along the way and I heard about some of the women that Alicja presented us, but I never knew about the bravery and the heart of them until I heard some of the facts from Alicja's mouth. It was indeed a lovely and educational tour for me, and I knew that I would pass this info further on to you :) and to everyone who will come to Krakow and meet me. Some stories should be kept alive, through word of mouth - these ladies deserve it!

** This post was made out of love for all the awesome unknown ladies out there. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! ** 

Yours truly,
The LadyBug That Recommends With All Her Heart The Free Walking Tours Krakow :)