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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Rynek Underground = Following The Traces of European Identity of Krakow

Dearest friends,

Do you know which museum was picked as "Travellers Choice 2014 Winner" and is listed on 4th place (out of 10) of Best Museums in Poland? The top 3 were:
2. Warsaw Uprising Museum (which my awesome husband and I visted the first time I was in Warsaw)
3. Polish Aviation Museum (where each year there is an Air Festival - Malopolski Piknik Lotniczy Air Festival)
and the lovely museum that I will tell you about today, and the glorious winner of the 4th place, is the Rynek Underground Museum :) Part of the National Museum of Krakow it is ranked #15 of 131 attractions in Krakow (as per Tripadvisor). Its address is simple: Rynek Glowny 1, Krakow 31-042, Poland (Stare Miasto). It is located in the old city center, right below Sukienicce ;)
View from inside the museum, looking up at the St. Mary
No matter the time or day or season, it is a pleasure to visit it. If you are wishing though for a short museum visit, than this is not the museum for you! Each time I get there I end up staying at least 3 hours... There are so many objects displayed and so many places you can interact, that you should just take your time and see them one by one - your may come out overwhelmed and with a slight headache but you will love this place nonetheless :)
The exhibition is both informative and interactive so children can have fun as well. Actually each time I was there, there were a lot of children visiting and touching the selected exponates that you can have a go at. Also there is a special kids corner that looked very much fun to be in, but I was unfortunately too old to be allowed :(
There are a lot of reconstructions that show the vistors how life was in the medieval time in Krakow and its surroundings. There is a lot of information stored on the monitors/displays but unfortunately there is only one monitor per exhibit so you might have to wait your turn...
A part of the expo may be not so suited for the children, but very attractive to Romanian tourists and Supernatural fans: the room with the vampires :) When they started the excavations under the Sukienicce they found a cemetery as well. Inside the small cemetery they also found a couple of interesting bodies burried in a different way than the others - burried with their hands and feet tied and in a fetal position (not the stand up straight, normal type of burial position). That type of position was specific for that age for the people who were believed to be vampires. There is a special area with plexiglass where you actually walk over their graves...
One of the main rooms of the Museum reminded me very much of the Louvre
A lot of people from around the world give praise to the technology incorporated in this museum. Take for example Lizzy from Connecticut: "First off, we are medieval history buffs so take that into consideration when you read this review. I give this musem a "5" rating due to its great incorporation of technology. We went on a Thursday night, my husband just arrived from the US and without sleep, and spend three solid hours there without him falling over! The technology is super - I wish other great museums in the world woutd take heed and learn to incorporate technology this way. We rented the headsets for a dollar or two, and they are a bit wonky - seem to go on and off when they want. I would say skip them since they basically read some, but not all, of the posted material. We stayed a long time because we used the interactive screens at many stops. Available in many languages (choose menu in the top left first), then you can read about the display or the actual finds. Also VERY well done are the simulated street scenes with people walking around (on film, but through mist like you are seeing through time), and the noises of street life. It reminds me a bit of Jorvik Viking centre and Pompeii, although that technology is much older. There is a 180 degree theater which is silent but with very cool images from about 1000 through Pope John Paul II, Just watching the images overlapping is hypnotic.

The second half of the museum has several films - they last quite a while but have seating which is welcome by that point. We watched the medieval (complete with gruesome torture chamber scenes, not too bad but yucky enough with chopped of toes and body parts to enchant young boys!), and renaissance films. The films do a good job of explaining history of all Krakow. We really felt like we had a great overview of Krakow before we saw any other sights, so I would strongly recommend it as a first stop!The museum goes on a long way. At the end is a small exhibit on 2 screens which show how they put the museum together with actors, green screen, exhibits, etc. It makes me wish I had been around to participate."
This particular piece inside the museum (pictured above) made me shiver... It depicts an anthropoligical surprise for the team excavating - a skeleton (to be more precise, the head!) of a man who lived around 40 years of age and got a trepanation performed in the 11th century! If you don't know what is a trepanation... well... there ya go - Wikipedia help - Trepanning, also known as trepanation, trephination, trephining or making a burr hole (the verb trepan derives via Old French and therefrom via Medieval Latin from the Greek noun of relevant meaning trypanon, literally "(a) borer, (an) auger") is a surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull, exposing the dura mater to treat health problems related to intracranial diseases. It may also refer to any "burr" hole created through other body surfaces, including nail beds. It is often used to relieve pressure beneath a surface. A trephine is an instrument used for cutting out a round piece of skull bone.
Gallery with the photos from excavating under Sukienicce
In ancient times, holes were drilled into a person who was behaving in what was considered an abnormal way to let out what they believed were evil spirits. Evidence of trepanation has been found in prehistoric human remains from Neolithic times onward. Cave paintings indicate that people believed the practice would cure epileptic seizures, migraines, and mental disorders.The bone that was trepanned was kept by the prehistoric people and may have been worn as a charm to keep evil spirits away. Evidence also suggests that trepanation was primitive emergency surgery after head wounds to remove shattered bits of bone from a fractured skull and clean out the blood that often pools under the skull after a blow to the head. Such injuries were typical for primitive weaponry such as slings and war clubs.
But enough of that, or I will spoil all the fun of YOU discovering this wonderful museum. It is the kind of museum you fall in love with and when you go out you feel like your brain cells are more happy, and even the dents in our brain are much deep ;))) So I recommend it with all my heart - especially if you are in Krakow and you catch a rainy day in which all you wanna do is be inside. Plus at the end of the expo they have a really nice and cozy cafe place ;) 
Here are some details about the price and opening hours:
  • regular 19 PLN
  • concessionary 16 PLN
  • group 15 PLN
  • schools 10 PLN
  • family 38 PLN (2 adults and 2 children up to 16, or 1 adult and 3 children up to 16)
  • VIP ticket 40 PLN
  • guide for groups 120 PLN
  • guide for schools 90 PLN
Opening hours:
*Winter season (November – March)
  • Monday, Wednesday - Sunday 10.00-20.00
  • Tuesday 10.00-16.00 (no charge)
*Summer season (April – October)
  • Monday, Wednesday - Sunday 10.00-22.00
  • Tuesday 10.00-16.00 (no charge)
Exhibition is closed on every first Tuesday of the month. 
You can also make the reservations online and just come and pick the tickets :) Enjoy!

Yours truly,
A LadyBug That Loves Interactive Museums!