Things to Do in Krakow - page 3
Krakow's CRICOTEKA Museum is a theater, exhibition space and bookshop dedicated to a bizarre brand of experimental theater and the local man who created it in 1955: avant-garde and controversial playwright, designer, director and artist Tadeusz Kantor. Visitors to the museum will walk through bizarre theater set designs with spooky mannequins, marionettes and costumes on display. There is also a gallery showing Kantor’s work in Ulica Sienna, which housed his theater company Cricot 2, as well as frequent temporary exhibitions of art inspired by his ideas.
A visit to the museum provides a change from the historical monuments and buildings of Krakow, showing a more contemporary side of the city. Visitors will enjoy the modern architecture of the museum—a former power station turned riverfront exhibition space with a rusted metal and black glass exterior—and great views of the city and Vistula River.
The biggest museum in all of Krakow, the National Museum, is actually the regional (and most important) branch of Poland’s National Museum - There are over 21 departments in Krakow alone, made up of 12 conservation workshops, 2 libraries and 11 galleries, each divided by art period, for a grand total of over 780,000 artworks. The museum came to be after Henryk Siemiradzki, one of Poland’s most celebrated painters, offered one of his works to the city of Krakow; soon after, hundreds of other artists and collectors started doing the same – forcing the city to adopt a special motion to house this invaluable collection. By creating the museum, the Polish government wanted to promote the achievements of the Krakow artistic community and the fine arts in general to the people of Poland, and, later on, to visitors from around the world.
Often regarded as one of Poland’s finest artists, Jozef Mehoffer (who also happened to be a pupil of Jan Matejko) was a highly talented stained-glass artisan, whose works can now be admired in numerous churches in both Krakow and across Galicia. This is the house where he used to live and work until his death in 1946, along with other artists of the Young Poland movement at the turn of the 20th century.
The house is still decorated with Mehoffer’s tasteful Art Deco furniture, Japanese treasures, iconographic trinkets, and impressionist artworks; as such, it offers an authentic glance of what life was like in a bourgeois house at the time, kind of like a time capsule. The house itself is in remarkable condition and features hundreds of rose bushes; in fact, the Jozef Mehoffer House is known for its beautiful garden-café, Meho Café, one of Krakow’s best kept secrets.
The very aptly named museum, which is located inside Krakow’s famous Cloth Hall, does indeed focus on 19th-century Polish art, with thousands of paintings and sculptures on display – thus making it the largest of its kind in the world. As it mainly consists of donations from local collectors and artists, the exhibit is rather small in size when compared to other national galleries in the world but is nonetheless quite significant in terms of Polish art. The various artworks are scattered across four different “19th-century salon”-themed halls, each named after a prominent Polish artist and defined by a specific historical period.
The Bacciarelli Room is all about Classicist, Rococo and even late Baroque painters such as Bacciarelli himself, Grassi and Krafft, with a strong emphasis on historical and battle scenes.
The Hipolit House is a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, containing recreations of townhouse interiors from the 17th to early 19th century. The house represents a typical home in Krakow from this time period. The outside of the building has a grand facade with a central entrance hall. A narrow staircase takes visitors to the upper floors of the three story house. Visitors can still see carefully preserved stucco decoration by Baldassare Fontana from the late 17th century on the first floor. The permanent exhibition, Bourgeois House, shows how the interiors of the homes changed over the centuries. Visitors can see from this exhibition how the former wealthy citizens of Krakow lived. Furniture, paintings, fabrics, decorations, antique clocks and watches, and a variety of other objects show how the inhabitants arranged their homes. Through these details, visitors can get a glimpse of what life was like for the upper class during the 17th to early 19th century.
The Archdiocesan Museum of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was originally founded in 1905, although not opened to the public until 1994. It was created to commemorate and advise the public of the artistic legacy of the Krakow bishopric. The buildings at 19 and 21 Kanonicza street that house the museum date to the late 14th century and today contains more than 600 works of art displayed in 16 rooms. The late Pope John Paul II, formerly known as Karol Wojtyla, resided there once as a young priest and again when he was the Archbishop of Krakow. The museum was named after him in 2005 and visitors are able to see the room where he lived from 1958 to 1967, as well as many of his personal effects, including his skis.
Museum displays showcase a variety of sacral art from the 13th to 18th centuries, including religious artifacts, sculptures and paintings. There is also a treasury of gifts presented to Archbishop from foreign heads-of-state and a set of furniture from 1905.
Communist repression came to Poland in 1945 after the end of World War II and lasted until the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989. During this time, the suburb of Nowa Huta was constructed six miles (10 kilometers) east of Krakow’s center.
Nowa Huta could not be more different from fairytale Krakow. Built as a piece of Communist propaganda to “house the people” in a garden city, it sprang up at an alarming speed during the late 1940s. At its peak, the area housed 100,000 residents among its wide boulevards, public parks and regimented apartment blocks all designed in the architectural style of the day, Socialist Realism. As with many idealistic plans, the Soviet dream town was never completed, and Nowa Huta became a hotbed of political rebellion during the Solidarity strikes of the early 1980s.
Welcome to Poland’s only photography museum! Although modest in size, the Photography History Museum will captivate shutterbugs of both amateur and professional levels, with its fascinating exhibitions that relate the development and evolution of the eight art. It features several compact rooms filled with ancient cameras (over 500, to be exact), various antique pieces of equipment, historical photographs of Krakow, and even an old darkroom. It also boasts an extensive collection of rare photographs, some dating as far back as the turn of the century. As the only one of its kind in the country, the museum is famous for housing temporary exhibits by famous photographers from around the world.
More Things to Do in Krakow
The Bonerowski Palace is a luxury hotel in the heart of Krakow’s Old Town. Dating back to the 13th century, it was then significantly renovated in the 19th century, at which time the entire building was raised up to three floors and a new staircase was added.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the building has many remarkable features, including a 70-foot-long chandelier in the lobby (the longest in Europe), a Gothic pillar on the first floor and a 17th-century polychrome on the second floor. It was opened as a hotel in 2007 and has been named the best luxury hotel in Poland. The palace is perfectly situated to explore Krakow as it is within walking distance of a number of important attractions, including the Czartoryski Museum, the Collegium Maius building of Jagiellion University, the Dominican Church, the Franciscan Church and the Barbakan fortress.
The Stained Glass Museum in Krakow, Poland combines an art museum with an old stained glass workshop from 1902. The process of creating stained glass has not changed in centuries, and visitors can learn about this process and see how the stained glass is made. The workshop has been preserved with its original furnishings and equipment, so visitors are able to see the different rooms, which each have their own piece of the production process. This workshop is where many of Poland's greatest stained glass artists have produced their art. You might get lucky and see a master at work during your visit.
In the exhibition space, the museum has on display examples of both historical and contemporary stained glass pieces. Some are from the most renowned artists of the Polish Art Nouveau period. The museum's guides have interesting stories to tell about many of the pieces on display.
Visitors come to the park for its mountains and massifs - the most famous peak being Tri koruny (Three Crowns), standing high at 982 meters above sea level. It is possible to climb to its summit and take in the view from an observation deck, but the most popular way to admire the scenery of the Pieniny National Park is to navigate through the picturesque limestone ravine known as the Dunajec River Gorge. This is one of the most scenic canyons in Europe, with cliffs often as high as 300 meters. The rafting trips, which have been organized in the park since the first half of the 19th century, last two to three hours. Hikers and cyclists will also find interesting trails, totaling 34 kilometers. The fauna and flora is to be seen - around 6500 animal species have been proven to live in the Pieniny, but it is believed that up to 15,000 species actually live in it, along with the hundreds of plant species who thrive in the park.
Chocolow is a tiny village sitting on the border with Slovakia in southern Poland with a great view of the surrounding Tatras Mountains. Dating back to the 16th century, the village has long been home to the indigenous Goral people and today represents the most complete survival of a traditional Goral village. As such, it has the feeling of an open air museum, with one main street lined with traditional wooden houses. The houses are protected by the Tatra Museum in nearby Zakopane and cannot be altered. They are also kept in pristine condition, with annual cleaning and polishes. The home at #24 is said to have been made entirely from a single tree, and the home at #75 features a small museum about the 1846 uprising in Chocholow against Austrian rule. The only non-wooden building in town is St. Hyacinth’s Church, a stone Gothic church that was built to replace a wooden one in the 19th century.
Located about 10 miles north of Krakow, Ojcow National Park may be the smallest of Poland's national parks, but it offers plenty to see and do. You'll find two river valleys, limestone cliffs, more than 400 caves and the ruins of two castles. The largest cave is the 1,000-foot-deep King Lokietek’s Cave, while the park's impressive rock formations include the Hercules Club, a limestone column standing more than 80 feet high. Ojcow is also very biodiverse, with more than 5,500 species of insects, birds and mammals living here.
Tourist routes marked as red, blue or yellow serve to guide visitors through the park. Highlights include the ruins of a Gothic castle at Ojcow and a Renaissance castle at Pieskowa Skala, as well as the Wladyslaw Szafer Natural Museum. The castle at Pieskowa Skala is also home to a branch of the National Art Collection.
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