Jo’s Monday walk : Barbakan and the City Walls

It's like something from a fairy tale, isn't it?

It’s like something from a fairy tale, isn’t it?

My head is still full of Poland and the Algarve seems like a distant dream, so for today’s walk I’m taking you strolling around the Planty and the Barbakan in Kraków.

I’m privileged to have visited this beautiful city a number of times, but this was the first time I’d ventured inside the Barbakan.  It was a grey day, with wisps of damp clinging to the trees, but Kraków is a hard city to despoil.  The soft shades of the lilac soothed the lushness of the green.  I had been dropped off in close proximity to Rynek Główny, the huge market square which lies at the heart of the old town, Stare Miasto.  Surrounding it, the Planty.  Trees, green lawns and gardens wrap gently around the bustling centre.  As I wandered, through the trees I spied a fountain.  An oasis of calm, till it’s spray leapt gaily into the air.

The fountain at play

The fountain at play

A couple of sculptures caught my eye.  Tributes to Jan Matejko , a Polish painter of historical scenes, and Józef Bohdan Zaleski, a poet and songwriter.  The Planty replaced the city’s medieval walls, which were largely demolished after 1807, leaving the city’s main gate, Brama Florianska, the Barbakan and a couple of towers with connecting walls.  If you’re interested, this walk gives details of what can be found around the Planty.

The original fortifications must have been an impressive sight.  Three kilometres of wall, 10 metres high and almost 3 thick, were interspersed with 47 towers and bastions.  Today Barbakan, just outside Florianska Gate, is a substantial remnant.  Dating from 1498, its design is Arab rather than typical of European defensive architecture of the period.  Stepping inside is a strange experience.  I was prepared to defend the city!

Click on an image to take the tour

Originally the fort, begun in the 13th century, was linked to the city walls by a covered passage, surrounded by a moat.  130 loopholes in the walls meant that even if the enemy forced their way in, they would then be trapped and shot at from all sides.  The entrance to the walls is through Baszta Pasamoników (Haberdashers’ Tower), at the eastern end of Ul. Pijarska, on Ul. Szpitalna. One ticket (currently 8 złoty, or 6 if, like me, you are emerytura, buys you admission to both Barbakan and the walls).    I have often looked up at the walkway and it was quite exciting to be inside, looking out.  A steady drizzle forced a sea of umbrellas, while I stayed smug and dry.

For a few seconds it was necessary to step out into the light rain, to pass around Brama Florianska, but when I did so a delightful surprise awaited.  St. Florian’s gate is 33.50 metres tall and built of natural stone, capped by a metal ‘helmet’.

Out into the damp

Out into the damp

The Mariacki Church, in the Rynek, beckons from beyond Ul. Florianska

The Mariacki Church, in the Rynek, beckons from beyond Ul. Florianska

The mighty Florianska Gate

The mighty Florianska Gate, with its ‘secret’ chapel

From street level the chapel, within Brama Florianska, is barely visible.  For me it was a grand finale, but the main entrance to the medieval city is just the beginning of the Royal Way.  This leads down Florianska into Rynek Główny, and continues along Grodzka to the magnificent castle and cathedral on Wawel Hill.

Florianska and the surrounding area is lined with restaurants and cafes so you will not have far to wander to rest those weary feet.  If you want something with a little character, Cafe Zakatek, featured in my 6WS, is through a narrow passage off Grodzka, just beyond the Rynek.

And there we have it- another Jo’s Monday walk.  If you’d like to join me, details can be found by clicking on my logo. The numerous links in the post will give you more background and history.

walking logo

In my absence many of you posted walks, and I already have a couple to share next week.  Thank you all for your enthusiastic support.  Please find the time to read these if you can.  You won’t be disappointed.  All you need is a big pot of kawa (or herbata!)


Beginning with a whoosh!  Thank you, Drake, for gladdening my heart :

Liquid forces

A fascinating boardwalk from Meg (who’s currently in Poland) :

Marrja boardwalk

Sounds rather wistful- like one of those boxes you rummage through :

Azalea Mall Remnants

Bluebonnets from Amy!  Catch ’em quick- they’re soon gone :

Monday walk: Texas Hill Country

A Vanishing Ice exhibition has to be interesting, don’t you think?


A seaside bench, or a romp with Oscar?  You’ll enjoy either- it’s Sherri!

A Walk with My Friend Oscar

A riverside walk?  Count me in!

The Thames Path- Little Wittenham to Oxford

Just a little more exotic?   Join Becky in the Algarve  :

In search of Chameleons

Tobias pays close attention to detail in this follow up  :

Kurhaus II

I’ve always felt ambivalent about Rome, but Indah’s fabulous post could persuade me  :

Rome by Sunset and Night walks

Did you ever hear the sound of a wild howler monkey?  No- nor me!  Thanks, Jaspa, for joining us.

Seeking Monkeys in an Ecuadorian rain forest

A new blog, to me, and a big welcome for a terrific post- please do read  :

New Frontiers and a Chocolate-covered Fish

Tish has been spying on canoodling pooties.  Go on- you know you want to!

Seeking Spring- and a walk on Wenlock’s Wild Side

And what a fabulous finale, and welcome home!  If you haven’t seen it, don’t miss this treat from Pauline  :

The Giant’s House in Akaroa

Thanks everybody!  I hope you have a great week of walking in the Spring sunshine (or showers). See you soon.


  1. There are so many layers to every city, and it’s wonderful that you’re able to return here every year to pull each one back and find a new story. Your photographs are beautiful Jo, this was a nice visit to Kraków.

    1. I really enjoyed the City walls and Barbakan, Susan. I’d never paid particular attention to them on previous visits. So much to see! Glad you enjoyed 🙂

  2. How great that you get to go here each year – and then let us join you via blogosphere – and how nice to step out of the light rain to find the gate. I read this form my phone earlier this week and do not like to leave comments while in mobile mode – plus it is a nice way to just read and enjoy a post – anyhow, coming back it is nice to see some of the larger versions of the pics.

    1. I was doing the same sort of thing in ‘spare’ time in Karkow, Yvette. I didn’t have a smartphone till I dropped my old one off a ferry in the Algarve, and I’m not very quick with the new one but it has its uses. 🙂 Will be back, very briefly, we think in September 🙂

      1. not very quick yet, huh? new technology can be so tricky – and changing phones is not what it used to be 🙂 and how cool you get to go again in Sept – even if brief.

    1. Delighted to do so, Mark. I’ll never forget Dad’s joy when he was reunited with his Polish family after 64 years of separation. We’ve been enjoying returning to the land of his birth for the last 6 years and what a welcome we’ve had. 🙂

    1. Thanks very much, Jaspa. Polish history is complicated in the extreme but there are some beautiful cities. I keep discovering more parts to Krakow each time I visit. 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed this walk, Jo. The photos and information were very interesting, and I found the uniqueness of the fort and its features taking me back to a different time. It must be doubly so in person. 🙂

    1. I hadn’t realised that there was a bit of the wall still intact till this trip, Jet, and the Barbakan was incredible. I almost felt I was fighting off the Tartar invasion myself 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it too. Many thanks for your company.

  4. Well, wouldn’t you know it, my laptop is doing very strange things and the comment (below) that was meant to go here ended up on your previous post, so I’ve copied and pasted it here again. Thought I better explain so you didn’t think I had completely lost it…haha 😮

    Oh Jo, this is a fairytale land indeed. I just love this place and want to go! I’ve never been to Poland as you know, but at least I get to experience it’s fascinating history and beauty through your deligthful narrative and photographs. Looking forward to more and again, lovely to have you back home. Hugs 🙂

    1. I would just blame WP, Sherri. That’s what I usually do 🙂 🙂 It’s a good-looking city and I keep discovering new bits of magic myself, so it’s always a joy to return. Thanks for your company, hon. I’m just subsiding into the ‘real world’. Not sure that I’m keen on it, really. Well- it’s ok in sunshine 🙂 Take care, hon. Exciting new developments with the writing? I’ll check later 🙂

      1. Haha…yes, I blame a lot on WP, I have to admit 😉 It’s hard getting back to the real world isn’t it? After my brother was taken ill (but doing much better, phew), then going away to London and then Jersey, my writing and blogging has taken a huge hit and I’m so behind it’s not true. I can’t keep up at the moment, so am taking this time to make the rounds and catch up with everyone this way. So nothing exciting to report I’m afraid…but hopefully that’ll change, ha!! I hope you have a good rest of the week lovely lady… 🙂

  5. Quite the medieval fort, Jo. You defended it well. 😊 The sculpture of the artist sitting in his frame is quite unique. Lovely place to visit and photograph. So many interesting views.

    1. That knight wasn’t too far from chopping my head off, Lynne. I can’t have looked like a local 🙂 It is beautiful though and I was very happy to be there.

  6. My ancestral family is from there and I had the pleasure to visit in 1999. I very much enjoyed my second ‘visit’ there today through your lens Jo! I love the sites framed by the lilacs (my first visit was in December so those blooms were a real treat this time around). And I love the vibrant colors against the muted tones. The details in that tiny chapel were ridiculously gorgeous :-). Am looking forward to joining you on futures walks when I arrive in Fiji and hope to have a few of my own to share! Cheers!

    1. Oh, Fiji! And Sue Slaught is dangling Peru before my eyes. Oh to be a world traveller 🙂 🙂 Glad to take you ‘home’ with me, Lisa. Have a safe and happy trip!

  7. another lovely walk, Jo! thank you for the tour! beautiful pictures and interesting facts as always! yes, the first picture looks like from a fairy tale book! 🙂

  8. I hope someday I will visit Kraków. I can see it from your post as a city with arts and historical buildings. Thank you for the walk and also the mention! Have a fantastic week!

  9. Beautiful post, Jo ….. I have heard so much about Krakow – only good … and your walk have sealed that. Suppose to be a beautiful city with plenty of beautiful old building. Can see that not the weather wasn’t on your side all days. I hope your dad is back safely in UK:
    By the way I’m going to visit Warsaw for 5 nights in July – got great deals on flights and hotel. Paying only about £260 total. Very excited .. never been. Have a very good friend there that I haven’t seen for years now, hopefully we will get a chance to meet up. Lost her email address, but hopefully somebody else I know has it.

    1. Brilliant, Vivi! Another busy year 🙂 🙂 Warsaw and Krakow have very different natures (north v south, a bit like England 🙂 ) Is this your first trip to Poland? How exciting!!! Hugs, darlin 🙂

      1. No, I been to Gdansk och Gdynia. I have promise Sue that I will go back to Warsaw with her next year – maybe Krakow is more interesting for her and her camera. Soon is it time for Bristol. Not fare away.

      2. Oh heck! I haven’t thought yet about Bristol! 🙂 I have Norfolk first, with Dad, to more Polish cousins, and now another Polish wedding in September. When will I fit Tavira in again? 🙂 🙂 Hugs!

      3. I’m so looking forward to Bristol – you are more busy than me … those days. Good for you!!!!!! Tuesday hugs … grey and wet. *smile …. coming from a hot girl … they are very steamy. *laughing.

      4. Yesterday I was in bluebell woods in Durham with the walkers. Totally fabulous! Today I dragged Mick over the Moors to Staithes on the coast. A stay-at-home rest of week 😦 😦 Love a bit of steam 🙂

      5. Bluebells …. I love them …. the forest just before arriving into Portpatrick was always cover in blue mat. One of the things I really miss from UK. I hope there will be be a bluebell post. *smile – I like steam too.

      6. Sue posted some, and I’m just off to see Gilly’s (Lucid Gypsy- in the comments 🙂 ) Must do some housework, one of these days 🙂

  10. The buildings were certainly built to last in days gone by and that formidable warrior would scare you away. Such a variety Jo I loved this wander round in the rain with you. and Thank you for the link your cyber walking group is growing…

    1. Yes, I do enjoy my cyber walking company, Pauline. I don’t want too many links because then people won’t find time to visit, but often we ‘know’ each other anyway. I just hope people visit the people they don’t know.
      I really enjoyed pulling all the information together for this post, so I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      1. Yes I do enjoy walking with all the others Jo, most weeks I manage to get around them. But as you know when on the road it is hard to keep up. I am enjoying my time at home now for a few months.

    1. A little damp round the edges, Sue, but nothing serious. I’ll not return to Poland without an umbrella again, though 🙂 We had a monster thunderstorm when we were on the motorway back from Belchatow. Couldn’t see the road for the wipers whizzing! An umbrella would have been totally useless 🙂 Thanks for your company!

  11. I’ve only ever thought of Krakow for a pre Christmas warmer Jo but you’ve opened my eyes to its other charms not least the Planty . All that history too ..some serious fortifications in a walled city …just love those turrets ! A great walk round with your photos Jo 🙂

    1. Thank you very much, Karen 🙂 I try for variety with my walks posts, but it really depends where I’ve been. There’s so much to choose from in Krakow, but yesterday I was bluebell walking in the woods at Durham. No idea yet how those photos have turned out. 🙂

      1. Oh, bluebells are lovely! I miss them. I had a couple of favourite spring walks when I lived in London that featured masses of bluebells.
        In 10 days I’m off to Canada and the US for three weeks, so will have some walks to contribute to your Monday posts — once I wade through the thousands of photos. 😦

  12. Since I have never been to Poland I really enjoy tagging along with you on your walks here. As you know I love to learn a bit about the history and architecture of a place and you even squeezed in a park and some fragrant lilac! Very nice. I shall put the coffee on and then have a wander through the other walks 🙂

      1. I’m ahead of you 🙂 I already have it pasted into my next Monday’s walk, though I haven’t written the walk yet. Not even sure where we might go 🙂 Cheers, Jude.

      2. And I am way behind in visiting people – haven’t got around to the walks on your site yet! Maybe I’ll do better tomorrow 🙂

      3. It’s called ‘having a life’ isn’t it? 🙂 I gather the weather is beautiful down your way? Go enjoy it! I’ll be cooking Sunday lunch etc.

  13. There is so much to see in Poland – I’ve just come from Meg’s Dilapidation Walk in Warsaw. The Planty looks beautiful and the history is fascinating!

  14. Thanks for the tour, Jo, Always like learning the history of places. Lilacs are one of my favorite flowers. I can imagine the sweet smell on your walk through the gardens.

  15. Well worth the time to absorb your walk today Jo – the gardens and fountains in the park are quietly beautiful. Interesting history of Barbakan ~

    1. I aim to try and find variety in my walks, and I thought this one a particular success in that respect. Many thanks for joining me. Do come back 🙂 🙂

  16. Another lovely walk, Jo. The fountain and statues area looks so relaxing. A perfect place to sit for a while. Florianska Gate is very imposing, and the detail in the tiny chapel is exquisite. Thanks for taking me along with you, Jo. I enjoyed your company. 🙂 xx

    1. It’s a great city, Ad, even on a rainy day. I thoroughly enjoyed my meandering, and I’m very happy you could join me. (still got my fingers crossed for you- or is it my eyes? 🙂 )

    1. There’s a lot more to Krakow than I realised, Drake, and I’ve been visiting for 6 years now. Still finding interesting corners 🙂 Thanks for the lovely share.

  17. What an interesting walk, Jo, even in the rain! Sometimes the rain just can’t keep us inside, can it? I really love the colorful buildings in the streets, the fountain, and that lovely little chapel. Thanks for taking me to Poland. I’ve never been before except through your posts. 🙂

    1. I had just the one day to myself, Cathy, so I had to make the most of it. Have to admit the weather didn’t spoil anything 🙂 Always glad of your company, hon. James is off to start a new job tomorrow and I hope to find some time then for a good read about Myanmar. Hugs! 🙂

    1. Not at all, Meg. I must have been 6 or 7 times now and I’m still scratching the surface 🙂 It’s totally different to Warsaw in many ways. When you manage your year here you must also see Wroclaw- another special (but sadly lacking in twins 😦 ) city. Come to think of it, the latter has a beach in the Rynek in Summer. Something for everyone 🙂

    1. If a city can still entertain in the rain, think what it’ll be like in the sunshine, Becky! Krakow has quite a lot of magic 🙂 Many thanks for your company.

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