Saturday, 28 July 2018

Planty in Kraków

Last time that we were in Kraków, we managed to visit the Old Town and the Royal Castle on the Wawel Hill. But the weather was not inviting and we could not admire one of the most enjoyable places there - the Planty park.

The peculiarity of Planty is that the park is actually round shaped and runs around the entire Old Town.

As you probably guessed, it was created in the nineteenth century when the rulers of the city decided that the old and falling walls, together with the accompanying moat, are no longer needed. Our walk today will start next to the Barbican.

Let's move into the green.

As we pass, you can see a small fountain.

It is located in the middle of an artificial lake.

The lawns are embellished with flowery carpets and monuments. The one in the back is commemorating Artur Grottger, a famous Polish painter.

And that one is for Lilla Weneda, a fictious character from a drama by one of the most famous Polish poets - Juliusz Słowacki.

And here comes another one, this time from a poem by probably the most famous Polish poet - Adam Mickiewicz. Her name is Grażyna (actually Mickiewicz invented this name himself but it is quite popular now in Poland).

As we move along, we can see several buildings of great importance to the city. Like the seat of the Kraków Society of Friends of Fine Arts.

 Then comes the Collegium Novum so the new college of the Kraków University.

As you rightly guessed, if there is a new college, there must be an old one as well. But it is not called old but great - Collegium Maius.

It is the Jagiellonian University's oldest building, dating back to the 14th century. Today it is no longer belonging to students but was turned into a museum.

Just next to Collegium Maius you will find the Professor's garden.

Inside, you can realise what professors looked like when Mikołaj Kopernik was one of the students in Kraków.

I admit that I like this porch a lot.

Next to the University buildings, you can see a few remainings of the old walls.

I was walking on Planty with an American friend and he said it looks a lot like Central Park in New York. I have never been there so I cannot judge - any opinions?

Finally, we arrive to the other side of the Old Town, having made half of the length of Planty. Up there, you can already spot the Wawel castle.

But I propose we do not walk up the hill but instead take this nice lane and walk back to the Market Square.

Here, those of you who are too tired to walk can continue in one of those nice carriages. I will stay there and have a chat with my cousins.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Festival of National Cultures in Grodno

Since 1996, every second year, Grodno welcomes guestes from all over the world.

Modern singers from Armenia …

and Georgia let spectators hear and watch the best of their cultures.

Children groups sing and dance most popular hits from Russia ...

and Moldova, with little help of their more experienced friends.

Local groups sing traditional belarussian songs.

All the places are decorated with artificial flowers presenting national flags, including obviously the hosts.

Lenin is proudly overseeing the whole festival from above.

The artists come also from other hemisphere - huge applause to Cubans.

During the festival one can buy also traditional handicraft, for example to cook ...

 or decorate the table.

The atmosphere is fantastic. It looks like the all citizens went into the streets to celebrate and admire distant cultures.

Hope you liked our trip to Grodno, the city where one can admire fantastic history and contemporary culture.

Saturday, 14 July 2018


Welcome to Grodno, “The Pearl of the Neman Region”. The city is located on Neman river, whose basin covers huge part of Belarus, Lithuania and Kaliningrad oblast of Russia. It used to be the central river of Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the city used to be one of the crucial municipalities of the Duchy.

Let's start with oldest tourist attraction: the old Grodno Castle. The first stone fortifications were erected on the site of the castle in the twelfth century. After that, the castle was repeatedly destroyed, rebuilt and reconstructed. Recent significant changes in his appearance were made in the nineteenth century.

Until the second half of seventeenth century there used to be a wooden bridge here, leading to the castle gate.

Apart from the main gate, only ruins remain of the mediaval walls until our days.

If the city has an Old Castle, you must have guessed that there exists also a New Castle. It is also an important landmark of Grodno. It was built directly next to the Old Castle in 1742. Although it is called a castle, it has never fulfilled the defensive functions, but used to be a royal palace.

Just in front of the New Castle you can find two monuments. The first one presents David of Hrodna, the castellan of Hrodna and one of the most famous military commanders of Gediminas, Grand Duke of Lithuania in the first half of the fourteenth century.

The second one commemorates another famous hero, the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas. He was the prince of Grodno from 1376 to 1392, and he stayed there during his preparations for the Battle of Grunwald.

In sixteenth century, the Grand Duchy united with Kingdom of Poland to create The Commonwealth of Two Nations. The most beautiful sacral building in Grodno was built soon after it under huge influence of the Polish culture. Ladies, gentlemen & horses, please admire the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.

It has survived World War II with no serious damage, but in 1960 it was officially closed for public religious services for 27 years. The communist authorities tried to convert the building into a museum or a concert hall. Despite this, people attended the church every Sunday for a common player, songs and rosary. The religious services were restored in 1987 and in 1991 the church became a cathedral for a newly created diocese of Grodno.

It is very similar to Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, including the Statue of Christ Bearing His Cross before the church.

But the main altair is more impressive in Grodno.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the city became a part of the Russian Empire. From this period originates another landmark of Grodno, a fire station with a tower built in the early twentieth century. This fire station is still operational and fulfils its main function.

Then after World War I, Grodna found itself in the boundaries of the Second Polish Republic. But only twenty years later came the World War II. Although I am proud of all the horses that won the battles, I am also happy that we horses can now live peaceful life, since there is a new cavalry. Like the one below, on the monument to commemorate the liberators.

After 6 years of war the city became part of Soviet Union. This spectacular building is Grodno Region Drama Theater. It is the contemporary symbol of the city. Have you noticed the muses on the horses ?

Much more impressive than the contemporary Town Hall.

In 1990 Belarus declared itself sovereign. The city is very green, with many artificial water reservoirs.

Quite often one can find also beautiful sets of flowers, like here in front of Basilian Nuns Monastery.

And this obelisk is the starting point all from which the distance from Grodno to other cities is provided. So you can say we are just in the city center. Do you see the tents behind ? I will show you their content next week.