5-day trip to Poland

Visiting Krakow with the Main Market Square and the Wawel, the Wieliczka Salt Mines, Częstochowa with the Shrine of the Black Madonna, the extermination camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau

Krakov: Main Market Square, Cloth Hall, Adam Mickiewicz statue, Church of St Adalbert, Grey House and Jablonowski’s House

I begin to describe Krakow from its pulsing heart: the Main Market Square. It is one of the biggest squares in Europe and is characterized by numerous monuments:

In its centre, there is the old Cloth Hall.

The Town Hall Tower is the only remaining part of the fourteenth century  Town Hall (which was demolished).

Another monument of the square is the statue of the writer Adam Mickiewicz.

A small Romanesque jewel is the Church of St. Adalbert.

Behind the Church, there are two beautiful houses: the Grey House and the Jablonowski’s  House.

Jablonowski’s House

Jablonowski’s House

Krakov

Krakov: Hejnal tower, Church of St. Mary

The last monument of the square, but perhaps the most important one, is St. Mary’s Church which dates back to the thirteenth century and is rich in works of art.

Above its entrance there is a beautiful baroque temple; whereas the Hejnal Tower is remembered for the homonymous and famous trumpet signal played every hour.

St. Mary’s Church

St. Mary’s Church

Krakov

Krakov: Church of Santa Barbara, San Florian’s Gate, Chucrh of St Andrew, Church of Saints Peter and Paul

Leaving the square, you meet the Church of Santa Barbara.

Then there is St. Florian’s Gate.

It is the only part of the walls and towers of the ancient fortified city which is well-preserved.

Behind the Gate, there is the imposing Barbican built in the fourteenth century in order to defend the Gate itself.

In fact, the two buildings were connected by an underground passage.

Leaving the city centre, we met the Church of St. Andrew of the end of the eleventh century  ( whereas its tower is of the thirteenth century ) and the Church of Saints Peter and Paul.

The latter is one of the most beautiful baroque churches in Poland.

Church of Saints Peter and Paul

Church of Saints Peter and Paul

Krakov

Krakov: Franciscan Church, Bishop’s Palace, Pope John Paul 2nd (Karol Józef Wojtyla), Remuh Cemetary

Another beautiful church is the Franciscan Church that dates back to the thirteenth century . It has beautiful stained glass windows.

Opposite,  there is  the Bishop’s Palace which is dominated by a huge image of Pope John Paul II (Karol Jozef Wojtyla), who was the archbishop in the 1960s.

It is very impressive the Remuh Cemetery in the Jewish quarter; it is one of the most important in Europe.

On the overlooking Szeroka Street, a street full of shops and restaurants, there are fine buildings including the birthplace of Helena Rubinstein.

Franciscan Church

Franciscan Church

Krakov

Krakov: interesting buildings, as the one of architect Teodor Talowski, known as “House of the Singing Frog”

There are several quite interesting buildings; some are very beautiful as the one of the architect Teodor Talowski, known as the “House of the Singing Frog”.

The Palaces

The Palaces

Krakov

Krakov: “the Wawel”, Cathedral, Royal Palace built by Sigismund 1st, Sandomierz tower

On the Wawel Hill, near the Vistula River, we find the fortified citadel called ”the Wawel”.

The complex consists of: the fortifications, the Cathedral and the Castle.

The fortifications that surround the Wawel are almost intact.

They are characterized by several towers; the most representative one is the Tower of Sandomierz.

The Royal Castle, built by Sigismund I at the beginning of 1500, was one of the most important royal residences in Europe.

Then, with the transfer of the Royal Court in Warsaw, it fell out of favor (now it is a  Museum).

The Wawel

The Wawel

Krakov

The Wawel: Cathedral of Saints Venceslao and Stanislao, Casimiro’s Tomb, statue of Pope John Paul 2nd (Karol Józef Wojtyla)

Another monument of  the Wawel is the Cathedral dedicated to Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus.

It contains many works of art, in particular the Tomb of Casimir.

Pope John Paul II ( Karol Jozef Wojtyla ) is particularly loved by the inhabitants of Krakow.

Next to the Wawel Cathedral there is a statue erected in memory of the fact that Pope John Paul II had  considered the possibility of being buried there.

Wawel Cathedral

Wawel Cathedral

Poland

Wieliczka: salt mines and salt statues (World Heritage Site)

In the south of Krakow, we visited Wieliczka Salt Mines, a World Heritage Site, in which there are many statues made with salt.

Wieliczka Salt Mines

Wieliczka Salt Mines

Poland

Czestochowa: Jasna Góra Monastery (Luminous Mount Monastery ), icon of the Black Madonna, stations of the Via Dolorosa

The Jasna Góra Monastery (Luminous Mount Monastery) in Częstochowa,  is dedicated to the Virgin represented by the icon of the Black Madonna. It is interesting the visit to the Basilica and to the icon (even if it is amazing the crowd of pilgrims, who, due to an excess of faith, is very rude).

I wish to underline  the beauty of the Chapel of the Last Supper, on the ramparts, besides the statue of John Paul II and the fourteen stations of the Via Dolorosa, which date back to the early years of the last century.

The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary

Czestochowa

Auschwitz, extermination camp: my photos witness the horror

The extermination camp at Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi regime.

Its name, at all times, evokes cruelty and death, and it is synonymous with the Holocaust.

Wandering among the huts is like to be partakers of the funeral of millions of people.

The statue of hunger (or starvation ) is so realistic that make you believe you are experiencing the atrocities of the past.

To watch the great number of cans of Zyklon B that , when opened , gave off the deadly gas with which millions of men, women and children were killed, makes your flesh creep and a strong knot tighten your throat.

The death camp

The death camp

Auschwitz

Birkenau (also called Auschwitz 2)

Shortly after a year from the opening of the extermination camp of Auschwitz, just 3 km away, they opened  another camp, at Birkenau (also called Auschwitz II), much larger than the first.

In that camp, the atrocities began since the arrival of prisoners.

Most of the prisoners were immediately selected to be killed, the others for hard labour or for the infamous medical experiments.

The death camp

The death camp

Birkenau