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Published: July 17th 2009
Krakow Day 12-13 (May 29-30)
From Auswich it was a short trip into Krakow. I was very impressed with this city. It is a university town, and still thinks of itself as the important city in Poland (a rivalry exists between Krakow and Warsaw much like the Melbourne and Sydney one). The old town of Krakow has turned it’s the area that had been it’s fortification walls into parks, so now there is a wonderful green band around the outside. Inside there is of course the square which is a nice open one.
A church at the entrance, has a wonderful tale involving the blowing of a bugle on the hour. Apparently, the tower is used also to watch for fires, and even today the firemen man the church tower. When Krakow was being invaded by the Turks the legend has it that as the bugle was being blown to warn the city, an hour pierced the bugler cutting short the warning. Today each hour, a fireman come bugler plays a tune to the four directions of the tower, but on the last one the tune is abruptly cut short to remember to death of the original bugler.
The city was all decked out in preparation for a walk to occur the following day. The gold medallist of walking at the last Olympics was from Krakow and this was an event arranged in his honour. We had a local guide take us through the streets the following morning, into the old university section, around the square and up to the fortress on the hill. The royal church in the fortress area was a beautiful building, as were the interiors of the church on the square, which we visited before hearing the bugler.
Our local guide recounted the story of a famous Polish person and said she thought that there was an Australian connection. I later worked out that Mt Kosciusko was named due to it’s resemblance to a mound where a famous Polish general is buried However, the Polish pronunciation is nothing like how we have anglicized it and so didn’t recognise it until I saw the word in writing. Strzeleki who did the naming was also Polish. There is also the story of the dragon that lived under the castle…today there is a statue there that has a gas flame shooting out of the mouth.
Krakow is also the town where the Pope John Paul II came from. There are statues and other memorials to the Pope around town. Probably the most unusual is at the place where the Pope used to stay in (which were his old apartments when he lived there) and which now have a picture of him waving from a window.
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