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?

Vanishing

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.

117 comments

  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. 🙂

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