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Friday, 16 March 2018

5 Off The Beaten Track Krakow Stops

Dearest sweethearts,

Every tourist that comes to visit Krakow has certain expectations and points on their list, places to go and things to see. The regular ones, like the Main Market Square in Krakow that is the biggest in Europe, the amazing Mariacki Church with its sky filled with stars ceiling and it's one of a kind altar, the beautiful Wawel Castle and Cathedral, the old and quirky Kazimierz and Podgorze district, the Schindler's Factory Museum - they are the ones people never miss. But if you plan to stay longer and if you consider having a look at beauties off the beaten track, you should also consider these 5 stops:
Liban Quarry tombstones - picture taken from the web
1. Liban Quarry - this one goes to all the movie lovers and history buffs out there. When "Schindler's List" was filmed by Steven Spielberg in Krakow, a replica of the Nazis Plaszow Labour Camp was errected (1992). Using the original blueprints of the camp and erected in a quarry just a few hundred feet off from the historical location, the Liban Quarry also serves a true reminder: inmates of Plaszow Labour Camp actually worked on that site, in the limestone quarry (many being even murdered there). There is a road made out of Jewish tombstones through the centre of the quarry - the headstones are movie props but the people whom were in the real Plaszow Labour Camp actually walked over real tombtones (of people whom they knew, whom they met or even family). Most people visit Auschwitz and Birkenau or the Jewish ghetto and they forget about this place, but it's so close to the city that it's a shame if you miss it. The quarry is S-W of Kopiec Krakusa and the Podgorze Nowy cemetery - about 25 min walk from the Krakow Jewish district. 
Nowa Huta air view - picture taken from Magiczny Krakow
2. Nowa Huta - a major stop in all Communist tours, it was supposed to be the symbol of the perfect Communist city. Right now it's the most eastern district of Krakow. It has over 200000 inhabitants and it's one of the crowded areas. Nowa Huta is one of only two planned socialist realist settlements or districts ever built and "one of the most renowned examples of deliberate social engineering" in the entire world. It was built as an utopian ideal city - layout oddly resembling from time to time with Paris and London. It is also the greenest corner of Krakow, with a lot of parks and green areas. Few might know that Nowa Huta's central "Avenue of Roses" had a statue of Lenin (28 April 1973) that was taken down in 1989 by the city. Also there are interesting pieces of architecture like the Arka Pana (Lord's Ark) Church, that was made to resemble Noah's ark - design influenced by Le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp. 
Air view over Kosciuszko Mound - Magiczny Krakow 
3. Kosziusko Mound - Now this one deserves some time... Krakow has 4 mounds (man made) but this one is the most important one! Plus it offers the best view you can get of Krakow (in all its glory). Throughout the year you can enter the mound from 9 am till sunset (the times are updated daily online on their own site). The mound was created and raised by the people of Krakow in order to commemorate the national Polish leader: Tadeusz Koszciusko. It has 1070 ft above the sea level and offers a panoramic view of the Vistula river and the city of Krakow. The construction was financed by Polish people living in all territories of Poland under occupation - starting 1820. At the base of the mound, the Founding Act was deposited in a glass and marble case; at the top, a granite boulder, brought from the Tatra Mountains, was placed, having the inscription "Kosciuszce" (To Koszciusko). Inside the mound, urns were buried with soil from the Polish and American battlefields where Kosciusko fought. Just so you know, Kosciuszko was a very close friend to Thomas Jefferson & in 1798 he wrote a will dedicating his American assets to the education and freedom of US slaves. 
Inner courtyard of Collegium Maius, Krakow, Poland
4. Collegium Maius - located in the Old Town, just a stone throw away from the Main Market Square, the Collegium is the Jagiellonian University's oldest building (14th century). Actually the whole area of the Jagiellonian University in the Old Town actually was the Jewish District. There was even a great synagogue close to where Collegium is now... But everyone knows Kazimerz as the Jewish District. Rightly so, as there was a great fire and the whole Jewish community was moved to the city of Kazimierz (it was a separate city back then, not part of Krakow, not a district as it is now). Back then they were considering where to build the university and the closeness to the old town won the contest. Thus, in the 14th century, the king Wladyslaw II Jagiello purchased the grounds as an educational grant with funds from his late wife, Queen Jadwiga. You might be interested to know Nicolaus Copernicus studied here and that Marie Curie was refused (as women were not yet allowed to have higher education). The building courtyard is wonderful and you should not miss the show of the courtyard clock that plays Gaudeamus Igitur and has wooden figures that appear and parade to music from the mid 16th century. The clock sings every 2 hours between 9 am at 5 pm. Also you should stay on the lookout for the Proffesors Garden, just next door - there is also a very lovely passageway (wonderfully painted) that is open from April till October.
Tyniec monastery
5. The Benedictine Abbey: Tyniec - Tyniec is a historic village on the Vistula river, now part of the district called Debniki in Krakow. There are multiple means of transport: a long walk, a trip with the boat (water taxi) from Krakow, bike trails, bus options or car. Tyniec is very notable due to its Benedictine Abbey founded by King Casimir the Restorer in 1044. #DidYouKnow that the name of the village comes from the word in Celtic language "tyn" - wall or fence. It's a crowded location by the locals, once the sun comes out and cold runs away to far away lands. The monks are visible and social and very interactive! You should not feel surprised if you will find a monk of two sitting beside you in the brewery or the diner. They do have a fine microbrewery so if you are a beer fan you should totally give it a go!

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Krakow 

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