In June 2004 the Roselle Sister Cities committee traveled to Bochnia, Poland for the formal signing of our sister city relationship.
In June 2004 the Roselle Sister Cities committee traveled to Bochnia, Poland for the formal signing of our sister city relationship. Ten committee members flew together. Mayor Gayle Smolinski and her husband met us in Bochnia as they had come earlier that month to Europe for a personal vacation. The committee members were Joe, Christina, Linda McDermott, Ron Sass, Mary Ann and her husband, Yolanta and Mark Kaftanski and Carol and Vic Dawley.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004: The start of a grand adventure. A positive sign – a double rainbow over Chicago’s O’Hare airport! The group gathered at the international terminal and checked in with LOT airlines. While waiting to board, we enjoyed the luxurious VIP lounge. Yolanta had already started the photographing of our trip – group photo in front of a LOT plane model in the lounge! Some of the group was fortunate enough to be upgraded to the business section of the plane. Linda McDermott sat next to a woman from Roselle. She seized the opportunity to recruit a new sister city member! Thursday, June 24th, 2004: A safe and on time arrival in Balice Airport Krakow at 2 P.M. A friendly LOT representative escorted the group through customs to our greeting committee – Mayor Smolinski and her husband, Anna Kocot from Bochnia (our translator and escort for our visit), and a friend of Mark Kaftanski’s (who brought flowers for Yolanta). Onto the mini bus and off we go – minus one piece of luggage – a suitcase for Mark and Yolanta (this was not located as of the day of our return]) Though the distance between Bochnia and Krakow was not too long, the trip was lengthened by traffic jams due to road construction and the fact that the roads are only 2 lanes wide – it only takes one slow tuck to hold everyone up! However, we all enjoyed the beautiful countryside, especially the bright red poppies that dotted the fields.
Barbara Rajska-Kulig’s daughter was at the hotel to greet us. Time to settle in – unpack, quick shower and we are off! Barbara leads the way as we walk uphill to her parents’ house. There her family has prepared a delightful al fresco repast. We are welcomed by Barbara’s father (her mother is in the USA preparing for her US citizenship test., her younger brother Christopher, her sister and brother-in-law Alex (a school teacher), another sister and her husband and their children.
The food – each dish was delicious – so much variety and so tasty! There were salads, perogies (cheese and meat), cabbage rolls, wiener schnitzel (my personal favorite), and homemade pickles. Yes, we left room for the dessert!!! The beer and wine flowed. it was a pleasant evening.
Breakfast at the hotel – European style – rolls, cheese, meats, etc. Some of the group ambled out into the city to exchange currency.
10 am the official tour began. The city museum curator, Daniel Duda, was our guide for the walking tour of Bothnia. We began at the city square. Bochnia was established in 1253. It was at the crossroads of trade and was an “international” city. It originally had three salt mines – mine carts to transport the salt are located at the now closed entrances to the mines – there are 2 on the plaza and 1 in another city park. One salt mine is still open – but for uses other than mining (more about this one later). Under the stone plaza is the “basement” of the city. A statue in the plo7 is King Kazirnierz the Great (4333 -1370). It is said that he found a Poland built of wood but left one made of brick. At one time there was a pole in the plaza that listed all the laws – this pole is now gone.
The oldest standing building dates from 1777 and was a convent for Dominican nuns. Since 1959, it has served as the city historical museum. In 1877 a new city hall was constructed. In 1964, the surface of the plaza was leveled out so that it was no longer hilly but flat.
The wood bell tower is not the original but a replica. A fire (so strong it melted the bells) destroyed the original. The tower is the pictorial symbol of Bochnia. The original was built in the 14th Century and was one of the first towers throughout Poland.
We enter St. Nicolas Basilica – built over a salt mine. Above the altar is a 1771 painting of the bishop at that time. Construction of the original wooden church (Gothic style) started in the 13th Century and was completed in the 14th century. During the Swedish occupation of Poland in the 17th century, the church was destroyed. It was rebuilt of stone in the baroque style. The side benches up front in the church were donated by the city officials and wealthy city families. 17th Century paintings are located above the benches. One side depicts the life of John the Baptist. These paintings were gifts from Bochnia businesses and trade unions. Paintings on the other side show the life and-death of Stanislav – the 13th bishop. Every year on March 8th there is a procession in Bothnia honoring Stanislav. Stanislav was born and raised near Bochnia. He is the patron of the salt mine officials. St. Nicholas is the patron of the salt miners and his day is December 6. At the rear of the church there is a picture of St. Nicholaus in stain glass. A special section of the church is fenced off it is the only part of the church that survived the fire. In the chapel of St. Kinga (daughter of King Bela IV of Hungary) there is a painting of her done by the famous Polish artist, Jan Matejko. The story is that she married a prince of Bochnia. She dropped her wedding ring into a salt mine in Hungary. When she arrived in Bochnia and the salt mines were opened here, her ring was found. The Chapel of Mary of the Rosary has a crown above the painting – this was given to the church by Pope Pius XI.
We pause to look at the Peace Pole (gift to Bochnia from Roselle) – official dedication is tomorrow.
Onto the high school that Barbara attended. It was established in 1817 and in 1886 a new building was constructed. One of the teachers from the school (1920/301s) became a famous director and actor in Hollywood. There are two huge chestnut trees opposite the building. The students know these trees well – when they are flowering, exams are close. Today is the last day of school – the students are wearing black and white.
Another famous person who was born in Bochnia is General Dombrowski. He wrote the Polish national anthem.
Onto the bus and off to Nowy Wisnicz. We pass by a high school for students majoring in the arts. Their works are being used to adorn buildings in the area. In fact, sculptures located at O’Hare airport are made by a man who went to school there. The town of Wisnicz, population 5,000, was started in the 17th Century by two wealthy noble families who rented a salt mine from the king In the center of the plaza (which is also a park) is a statue of Jan Matejko, the famous painter. He is known for his paintings of the Polish kings, among other works. The city hall is located on one side of the plaza. There is a castle in the town – originally built of wood, it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt of stone. At one time there was a large Jewish population in the town, but after the fire, they all relocated to Bochnia. On the side of a building in the plaza is a relief fresco. It shows a church in old Wisnicz, city hall, the castle, a church in new Wisnicz and a church that no longer exists. The latter was located near a Carmelite convent. The church in New Wisnicz was built in the 17th Century. The noble family, Labroninski, hired an Italian architect to design it.
The Wisnicz castle is 600 years old and was owned by a noble family (advisor to the king of Poland). Construction started in the 14th century and it took 200 hundred years to complete. Many kings came to visit the castle, including Sigmund the Old. The walls surrounding the castle, used for protection, are in the shape of a pentagon. Years after the original owner died, the castle was sold, and the new owner restored it to its original glory. It took 20 years, but a second story was added to the family house. Inside there is a chapel as well as the usual living quarters. The servants had a separate building for their living quarters. At one time there were 600 people in residence and 200 horses. The convent on the grounds has now been converted to a prison. Fire destroyed the inside of the castle. After World War II, restoration began. Inside the castle is an open courtyard__ One of the sides has windows painted on the stone walls. Artwork from the students of the high school of the arts is found here. A small room has the bronze with gold coffin of General Stanislaw Lubomirski(d. 1649), head of the Polish army. This sarcophagus was originally stored in the convent on the grounds but was removed to the castle. Upstairs there is an “echo room.” You can stand in one corner and whisper to the wall and a person standing in the opposite corner can hear you. Another room holds miniatures of castles throughout Poland. One–wing is for Queen Bona. She was an Italian princess who married King Sworza of Poland. It is said that she changed the menu of the Polish people. She was from the Borgia family and is said to have poisoned her daughter-in-law. A painting of her hangs on the wall. The entrance to her “court” has a marble doorway. Ovals in the ceiling have family portraits in them. In the ballroom of the castle, there is a display of Medieval and Renaissance apparel.
A short walk to the house of Jan Matejko (1838 – 1892). It started as a summer home but later became a year-round residence. Set in the woods, it is surrounded by a lovely garden. One story about him – he was late arriving in Bothnia to catch a train to Krakow so he returned to Wisnicz. He wiled away his free time by drawing sketches of the castle. All that is known visually of the castle is from these drawings. Matejko married the sister of the original owner of the house. The great great-great grandchild of the first owner lives in the house today. The front section, open to the public, has a two-room museum. In the entrance is a picture of Matejko. One room has Matejko’s piano, a crewel pillow his wife made portraits Matejko painted of his future in-laws, smoking pipes, and a tea urn. The second room, his bedroom, has the diary of his niece when she was thirteen. This niece wrote biography of Matejko and his painting of this niece is on a Polish bank note. Matejko also did caricatures and some of these adorn the walls. We sign the guest book and head back to our tour bus.
Next stop – the village of Lipnica Murowana. The father of King Kasmir the Great established this village. Lipnica Murowana is on the route between Krakow and Hungary. Surrounding the small village plaza are wooden houses with poles in front supporting the 2nd floor overhangs. In the center of the plaza is a monument to St. Simon. It was a gift from the association of Polish immigrants to the US (founded in Chicago in 1913). St. Simon died in the 15th Century in Krakow. From this village of Lipnica Murowana, the pope has canonized three saints. The village has an orphanage which was established and is supported by the Polish association in Chicago. The bell tower is also a gift from this association. There is also a statue of King Casimir the Great. He was a short man. Palm trees are located here and some of their branches grow as long as 27 meters.
Lunch is at a new restaurant. Its wooden rustic decor is delightful. We all enjoy a variety of soups – some of which come in their own bread bowl. Back in Bochnia, the group divides in half. Some go to City Hall and have a tour, personally escorted by the mayor. Others visit the “Igloo” factory. This plant makes refrigerated display cases. Their catalog shows the types and their names – i.e. Anna, Jola, Basia, Wiktoria, and Romeo.
5:45 and we are all ready for supper at the mayor’s house. He lives high on a hill – we were all grateful for the ride there – it looked like a long uphill walk. A group from Bad Salzdetfurth, Germany are also present. Bothnia has 2 other sister cities besides Roselle, Illinois – Kezmarok, Slovakia and Bad Salzdetfurth, Germany. Awnings and canopies cover the sumptuous garden party. Good thing – the rain did come! However, afterwards there was a beautiful sunset. First course included shish-kabobs, kielbasa, blutwursts (kaszanka) and salads. This was followed by roasted venison and pig (whole on spit with apple in mouth), potatoes and sauerkraut. There was lots of toasting with vodka. Gifts were exchanged. All attendees received special sister cities T-shirts as well as Bochnia T-shirts and umbrellas.
Saturday – June 26, 2004
After breakfast at the hotel, we gathered, all dressed up in our finery, at 9:30 am. It’s cool in the salt mine so we all brought wraps or jackets. Rode the double decker elevator down and then took the tram to St. Kinga Chapel. What a gorgeous room!!! Our group sat up front with the special guests behind us. There was a band that played stirring music. First a mass to consecrate the occasion. Of course, it was all in Polish – but we did receive a translation of the homily. Upon the conclusion of the mass, we walked to a huge room (Komora Wazyn) for the formal signing of our sister city relationship. As we entered the room we passed under crossed swords. Mayor Smolinski and Mayor Cholewa sat at the head table. Above them, carved in wood, are the symbols of our respective cities. Bochnia has gone all out for this occasion. The signing ceremony commences – first the official signatures on the partnership papers – Mayor Cholewa talks – Mayor Smolinski talks -Burgerrneister from Bad Salzdetfurth, Germany talks – mayor of Kezmarok, Slovakia talks – William Bellis, US Consul for Press and Cultural Affairs (from US Consulate in Krakow) talks – gifts are exchanged – two students who received scholarships to come to Roselle in September were introduced and receive logo watches -string quartet plays. Bochnia gave Roselle a large statue of a miner made out of salt. Bad Salzdetfurth gave Roselle a picture of their town. A bounteous buffet ensued. AND there were waiters wandering around carrying trays of champagne and beef stroganoff soup. Souvenir bags of salt were available. Upon completion, we walked back to the elevator – pass the rooms of beds (the salt mine is now a rehabilitation center).
Next on the agenda was a talk at the Bochnia museum about Polish immigrants to the US. The majority of our group was exhausted (jet lag has reared its ugly head) and opted to return to the hotel for some rest. However, a few hardy souls, including the mayor’s husband, sallied forth.
4 pm – Mayor Cholewa officially opens “Bochnia Days”. (Note: In mentioning the 2 students coming to the US, Lake Park High School was called repeatedly Salt Lake City High School!) Over to the Peace Pole where the mayors of the four cities – Bochnia, Bad Salzdetfurth, Kezmarok and Roselle – cut the ribbon and dedicate the Peace Pole.
Back to the hotel and time to change to more casual attire – sister cities T-shirts. A short walk to the Millennium Hotel for an evening for food and camaraderie. Under a wood pavilion, food was cooking, vodka was flowing, and friendships were being solidified. At 7:30 the swimming competition was held. An indoor pool is nearby, and we all went over to witness the event. Mayor Cholewa, a representative from Bad Salzdetfurth and Mark Kaftanski competed. The rest of us cheered them on – including four horns being blown!!! Back to the festivities – with a Polish band playing spirited music, we ate, and we ate. Then we danced and we danced. The band was replaced by a Di and individual and group dancing as well as a conga line were happening!!!
Farewell Bochnia. Mayor Cholewa visits us at breakfast with parting gifts. With promises to stay in touch and return trips, our bus departs for Krakow. During the ride we are entertained by a video that Krystyna has brought of the visit of Jan and last year.
Krakow – half the group is staying at the Holiday Inn and the other is staying at the Hotel Ibis. We are dropped off at our respective hotels, check-in and then reconnoiter at the Holiday Inn where we meet our city guide. She speaks excellent English, having spent several years in the US as a taxicab driver.
As we walk through Planty, we get a brief history of this wonderful city. Krakow was founded in 1254 and was the capital of Poland until 1609 when Warsaw became the capital. The “Old City” is surrounded by a green belt of public garden known as Planty, built on an ellipsoidal plan, the only example of its kind in the world. The bronze plaques along the avenues indicate the 15th and 16th century sites of the towers that protected the city and that together with the city walls were demolished to create the Planty. There were 7 gates and 47 towers and the walls themselves were 3 1/2 meters wide and 3 1/2 meters deep.
As we walk up Wawel Hill to the castle, we note the beautiful Vistula River below, wending its way around the city. Across the river we see Mangha, the Japanese Art Center. In the far distance is the Kosciuszko Mound. It is an earth mound built by the Polish people in memory of the hero of their own country and of the United States of America. Built between 1821 and 1823 in memory of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a patriot and hero of the battle of Saratoga Springs, it is covered in grass and surrounded by a circle of brick buildings. In Poland, Kosciuszko was the leader of the 1794 uprising. He was defeated and seriously wounded in the last battle and was taken prisoner by the Russians and deported to St. Petersburg. After two years he was freed by the Czar and allowed to live in exile in Switzerland. He died in 1817 away from his homeland. The mound in his honor was begun by Poles from all over the country bringing handfuls of soil and laying them in his memory. It stands 34 meters high and is surmounted by a boulder, brought from the Tatra Mountains, inscribed with his name. The mound contains soil from the battlefields of Poland and America.
Our guide points out a statue of a dragon. At the base of the square Thieves’ Tower, below the city walls, is the Dragon Opening. The oldest account of the Wawel dragon legend is in the Polish Chronicles (Chronika Polonorum) compiled by Vincent Kadlubek on the orders of Duke Casimir, the Just (1138-94). In it we learn of a terrible dragon who ate cows and men, frightening inhabitants of Krakow. One day prince Grakch, whom the locals came to call Krak (and hence the city’s name), arrived from Carinthia and on being proclaimed king decided to kill the monstrous dragon. Grakch’s sons threw a cow stuffed with sulphur inside the beast’s cave: he ate it and died.
We view the remains of a building discovered during excavation which is thought to be the earliest castle constructed on Wawel Hill. It was of stone and was built between the 10th and 11th centuries. At the beginning of the 12th century a Romanesque fortified castle stood on the hill, while the first gothic building, fragments of which have been incorporated into later constructions, was built by Wladyslaw the Short who sought to strengthen Krakow’s role as a capital city. His son, Casimir the Great (1333-70), responsible for the construction of a large number of castles in Poland in the 14th century, built an impressive gothic castle on the hill of which only the tower Kurza Stopka (Chicken’s Foot) remains. Beside it stands the gothic pavilion with a large terrace: this was added during the reign of Jadwiga of Anjou and Wladyslaw Jagiello as part of the alterations made to Casimir’s building. The most notable changes were made at the beginning of the 16th century, when, after the disastrous fire of 1499, King Alexander and his son Sigismund undertook the reconstruction of the castle in the renaissance style. When the court was transferred to Warsaw the castle suffered a period of decline. The loss of Poland’s independence and her occupation meant that the castle served as an Austrian garrison which caused it considerable damage. Efforts were later made to restore the castle , the symbol of independent Poland, to its former dignity. We walk through to the courtyard of the castle. The castle courtyard is one of the finest examples of Italian renaissance architecture in Poland. Built in such a grand style the royal castle on Wawel was intended to reflect the magnificence of Sigismund the Elder and the extent of the power of the Jagiellonian dynasty, which at the beginning of the 16th century extended over Poland, Lithuania, Bohemia and Hungary, covering an area from the Baltic to the Adriatic.
The portico and the first two orders of arcading surrounding the courtyard form covered walks which on the ground and first floor are protected by renaissance arches, while on the top story protection from the damp climate is provided by a steeply sloping roof with gutters, supported by slender columns. Fragments of 16th century frescoes are still visible on the walls. We next visit Wawel Cathedral. (Note: Some of the group will tour the castle itself tomorrow). The gothic cathedral we see today is the third ecclesiastical building erected on Wawel. Work began in 1320 and it was consecrated in 1364. Over the centuries the Cathedral has been enlarged, new chapels have been added and the building has been made higher_ Between 1895 and 1910 the last major reconstruction was carried out. From 1320 onwards all the Polish monarchs were crowned in the Cathedral with the exception of the last Stanislaw Augustus Poniatowski, As well as providing the resting place for many of the Polish kings, the great Polish poets Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Slowacki and national heroes such as Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Count Józef Poniatovvski and Józef Pilsudski are also buried here. The south facade of the Cathedral is interesting for the variety of architectural styles and elements it incorporates from the Romanesque to modem additions. Projecting from the main gothic structure are two chapels, remarkable for their similarity: the renaissance Kaplica Zygmuntowska. (King Sigismund Chapel), covered with a gilt dome, and the baroque Kaplica Wazow (Vasa Chapel), a hundred years later than the first but with an identical ground plan.
They were both built as funerary chapels, and members of Poland’s two ruling dynasties during the “golden century” were buried there. While the two chapels are remarkably similar from the outside they differ greatly on the inside. The black stone portal with wooden doors covered in metal bearing one of the great coat of arms of Krakow, the initial K of King Casimir the Great surmounted by a crown, leads into the Cathedral. In the great nave we are immediately confronted with the St. Stanislaw Mausoleum. The silver sarcophagus containing the remains of the saint is a masterpiece of 17th century goldsmiths’ work. It was made in 1670 and is decorated with twelve reliefs depicting scenes from the Saint’s life together with the miracles attributed to him after his death. St. Stanislaw was bishop of Krakow from about 1030 until his death in 1079. The dramatic conflict between the Bishop Stanislaw and King Boleslaw II the Bold was of a political nature and ended in the Bishop’s death by quartering. Legend attributes the responsibility for his death directly to the king and states that Boleslaw himself gave the order “to have him quartered” but that afterwards the saint’s body was miraculously reunited. The saint’s reunification was interpreted as a prophetic sign of the imminent reunification of the Polish kingdom which was then divided into small feudal duchies. The Bishop-Martyr was canonized in 1253.
Some of us climb to the top of the bell tower. There we are greeted with a striking view of Krakow. We also each touch the clapper of the big bell with our left hand to make our wish come true. The bell was founded in 1520 and is rung on rare occasions. The “Zygmunt”, 260 cm in diameter and 195 cm high, weighs about 11 tons (the clapper alone weighs 300 kgs) and eight to ten men are needed to ring it. It was founded by Jan Behem with bronze from canons taken in Walachia.
Back in the church proper, we enjoy seeing the different ornate chapels. At Bishop Gamrat Chapel, some of us light candles. Mine is for my German cousin’s wife whose funeral is today. The sculptural effigies on the tombs of the kings and bishops are carved by both Polish and foreign sculptors. Antoni Madejski (1869-1939) was responsible for two of the funerary monuments: those of Wladyslaw III and Queen Jadwiga. The tomb of Wladyslaw is empty. The body of the young king killed in the battle of Varna (1444) was never recovered. The remains of Queen Jadwiga were placed in her tomb of white Carrara marble in 1949. The daughter of Louis d’Anjou, King of Hungary, and granddaughter of Wladyslaw the Short, she succeeded to the Polish throne at the age of ten. She was renowned for her saintliness during her lifetime, and after her death at the end of the 14th century, her fame spread. The places she is known to have visited and everything connected with her life (including the black gothic Crucifix in the north aisle before which she frequently prayed) became objects of veneration. In 1987 Pope John Paul It presided over her beatification ceremony. Down to the catacombs. Czartoryski Chapel is the entrance to the crypt with the tombs of the kings.
Leaving the Cathedral, we walk along the Vistula River to Kazimierz. In the 14th century an independent community developed which in 1335 was awarded Locatio Civitatis by King Casimir the Great. This meant that it gained recognition as an independent city and was given the name Kazimierz. It remained independent until 1796 when it became part of Krakow. In 1872 a tributary of the Vistula bordering the city to the north was filled in and a large avenue was planted, now it is a road, the Planty Dietla. We can see the remains of the old city wall. In this area is a church founded by Casimir the Great, Corpus Domini, on the northeast corner of plac Wolnica. It has never suffered from fire, unlike so many churches in Krakow, and the gothic structure of the nave of the church is perfectly preserved. Construction began in 1340 and lasted more than 60 years. In the second half of the 15th century the west facade was castellated on the gable, while its unusual bell-tower was built sometime later.
By now we were all looking for a place to get something to eat and rest our weary feet. Off to the Jewish section. From the 10th century onwards caravans of Arab and Jewish merchants began to arrive in the city. The reason for the growth of the Jewish community was twofold: Jews sought refuge from persecution in western Europe, particularly violent at the time of the Black death (1349 -1350), and Poland encouraged urban colonization especially under Casimir the Great. One small Jewish community soon developed into one of considerable size in Kazimierz. The same king who gave his name to that city settled it with Jewish refugees from Germany and France. In 1334 Casimir regularized their legal status in Poland. Throughout the reign of Casimir III, the Great Jewish communities continued to develop without hinderance, unusual in Europe at that time where ethnic-religious conflicts were rife. It is possible that an old word used by Jews for Poland, Polin, meaning “where peace is found” dates from this period. The increase in the population of Krakow and the growth of the German-speaking merchant class, weakened the position of the Jews. While the Kazimierz community continued to prosper, the Jews of Krakow suffered. At the end of the 15th century king John Albert ordered them to leave Krakow after an outbreak of rioting. These Jews moved to Kazimierz, giving birth to the “Jewish City.” The Kazimierz community’s greatest prosperity coincided with the “golden century” of Poland. In the 16th century Poland, in contrast to the rest of Europe torn by religious discord, experienced a period of religious toleration and was defined as the “state without burning at the stake.” The Jewish City enjoyed its own legal system and acted with considerable independence. Kazimierz became the capital of the diaspora welcoming refugees from the whole of central Europe, the old synagogue, built at the end of the 14th century was rebuilt in the 16th century by Matteo Gucci in the same style as the synagogues of Ratidsborn, Worms and Prague. During the last war, the building was very badly damaged but has been reconstructed and now houses art and artefacts from the History Museum relating to Jewish culture in Krakow. At the outbreak of WW II, the Jewish community in Krakow amounted to 60,000 members, about 23% of the population. On 13 March 1943 the ghetto was destroyed: some if the inhabitants were transported to the extermination camp at Plaszow, while all the others were murdered in the confines of the ghetto. The old synagogue is at one end of the plaza. No time to visit it. Time to rest and get a bite to eat. We enjoy a delicious lunch at the Ariel Cafe in the main plaza of Kazimierz. While dining al fresco, we notice a chair in the middle of a parking space – just like in Chicago!
Our feet, though rested, refused to walk much further, so we all hopped aboard a streetcar traveling down Starowislana street and back to Rynek Glowny (the market square). This 13th century quarter of Krakow has survived unaltered to the present day. Rynek Glowny, one of the largest squares in medieval Europe, was laid down in 1257 as a slightly irregular square some 200 meters on each side. The surrounding houses were built in the 14th and 15th centuries and have over the centuries been restored and, in some instances, rebuilt. The classical facades on a large number of the houses were built during restoration work from the 17th to the 19th centuries but many retain renaissance and baroque stone doorways, together with the original beams, porticoed courtyards and sections of the attic stores.
Among the notable buildings on the square are the Sukiennice, the Town Hall tower, the church dedicated to St. Adalbert, the especially fine Church of the Virgin Mary and the monument to Adam Mickiewicz. The present level of the square is some two meters higher than the original one, as we can see by the sunken level of the church of St. Adalbert. The square, like most of the old city, is closed to motorized traffic (residents’ vehicles and public transport excluded), making both it and the surrounding streets extremely pleasant to stroll in.
We first visit the Church of the Virgin Mary (Kosciol Mariacki). For centuries this church was the most important church in the city, frequented by the merchant classes, while the Cathedral on Wawel was officially the main diocesan church. It was built on the site of a Romanesque church founded at the beginning of the 13th century by Bishop Iwo Odrowaz. It is built entirely of hand-made bricks on a basilica plan with a high central nave and two lower side aisles. The main body of the church was built between 1350 and 1397. It took the entire 15th century to complete the structure with the erection of the towers, the addition of the chapels and the completion of the golden crown, symbol of the Virgin as Queen of Poland was added in 1666. The legend says that the builders of the towers were two brothers who were eager to outdo each other, and each strove to make his own tower the higher. The elder, when he finished the north tower, murdered his brother to prevent his finishing the south tower. Remorse however soured his success. After a public confession of his crime he committed suicide by leaping from a high window of his own tower. His knife, the fatal weapon, was displayed as a sign of atonement at the entrance to the Sukiennice where it is still to be seen today. The higher tower has served as a watchtower since the middle ages. In the past the guards were obliged to raise the alarm in the case of fire or of attack by the enemy. Today the firemen on duty must be vigilant in the prevention of fire but have also to play on the hour a musical phrase “hejnal mariacki.” Hejnal is a word of Hungarian origin meaning morning, the phrase might then be interpreted as “awake”, a sort of military reveille to wake the town, a theory reinforced by the sprightly tune. Every hour a trumpeter sounds the hejnal to the points of the compass. The sound of this tune, echoing as it has done for years among the old city walls around the church gives the old quarter a character that is quite unique. Naturally the hejnal is also linked to a legend. During the Tartar invasions a watchman, having sighted the enemy approaching, began to sound the tune but was shot in the throat by a tartar arrow, at which point the alarm abruptly ceased. The hejnal mariacki still appears to end halfway through the phrase. Although the watchman died the people of Krakow were able to repel the attack and after pursuing the enemy captured some rich booty.
The decoration of the church interior, its paintings and stained-glass windows are in a range of styles: from the gothic to 19th century revival. The most remarkable object in the church is the altarpiece by Weit Stoss. Wit Stwosz, born in Nuremburg, arrived in Krakow in 1477 having been commissioned by the city’s merchants to carve the altarpiece for the church of the Virgin Mary. (This was to replace the altar destroyed by an earthquake in 1442.) The work, a monumental wooden polyptych, is considered one of the finest pieces of European late-gothic sculpture. It is 13 meters high and 11 meters wide. Carved in limewood it is made up of a central section with four wings; the two fixed Ones can only be admired when the two central mobile ones are closed. the lower part of the central panel depicts the Dormition of the Virgin with the Apostles while the upper section is devoted to the Assumption. A carved baldachin above the central panel frames the scene of the Coronation of the Virgin by the Holy Trinity. The mobile wings depict the Annunciation, the nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost.
The predella panel is carved with the Tree of Jesse to show the genealogy of the Virgin. The figures in the central panel are larger than life-size. Completed in 1489, the polyptych is open from noon to 6pm. During WW II it was dismantled by the Nazis. In 1945 it was found again in Nuremburg Castle. And in 1956 it was filially restored. Above the main entrance is a beautiful stained-glass depicting scene from the Bible.
Leaving St. Mary’s church, we retire to Plac Mariacki (St. Mary’s Square). As this square is completely enclosed by high buildings it has extraordinary acoustic properties. The hejnal tune is heard here to perfection when it is played in a southerly direction, while waiting for the trumpeter we admire the attractive fountain in the middle of the square. Our group now bids farewell to our guide and to each other. Some head back to the Holiday Inn and to Roselle in two days. The rest of us will remain in Europe for another week.
Vic, Carol, Mark, Yolanta and Krystyna head for the Sukiennice. We pass the monument to Adam Mickiewicz, the greatest romantic Polish poet (b. 1798 in Lithuania d. 1855 in Constantinople). Krakow council’s decision to build the monument coincided with the return of the poet’s ashes, when they were laid in Wawel Cathedral. In 1890 Teodor Rygier (1841-1919) won the competition with his design for the monument. The statue stands on a high pedestal. The front of the pedestal shows the Homeland depicted as a young woman raising her arm with the figure of poetry on her left, holding a lute in his hand. The elderly figure teaching a boy is an allegory of Science, and the young knight symbolizes Patriotism. During the second world war the monument was dismantled, and the statue of the poet was taken to Germany. Fortunately, it was not melted down and in 1955 when it was rediscovered it was reassembled in Krakow. The statue is an extremely popular memorial and on 24 December, the poet’s name-day, all the Krakow florists pay tribute to the poet.
The Sukiennice (warehouse)stands right in the middle of Rynek Glowny, with its extremities at the north and south ends. It has been enlarged and altered over several periods, from the very earliest to the present day. In 13th century stands were set up in the center of the square for the sale of cloth (hence the buildings name). The original building dates from the reign of Casimir the Great who in 1358 ordered the construction of a large covered brick market, 100 meters long. In the 16th century a renaissance-style attic story was added to the structure and the building was further decorated with masks. A staircase was built at the end of the building to unite the two floors. The last large-scale reconstruction of the building was between 1875 and 1879 when Tomasz Prylinski added the neogothic arcade with the capitals on the columns designed by Jan Matejko. (Where have we heard this name before???) It was then that the upper story was converted into a picture gallery. The entrance on the east side, looking onto the monument to Adam Mickiewicz appears to be the more important: above the main archway is the city’s coat of arms. Inside the building the ground floor is full of wooden stalls and shops selling local crafts, gifts and souvenirs from the Krakow region such as dolls in regional costume or the costumes themselves. Amateur artists display their works in the transept. There is even a fortune teller. Vic, Mark and Krystyna enjoy some liquid refreshment while Yolanta and Carol do some serious shopping. Again, we are all too tired to walk back to our hotel. Yolanta to the rescue – she negotiates for a tour cart to take us there. Back at the Ibis, Yolanta to the rescue again – she has drinks for us in their room – we all enjoy some gin and tonic as Krystyna’s brother joins us. Dinner time. A short walk across the Vistula to enjoy the panoramic view of Wawel and then a pleasant meal.
Rise and shine – time for a quick early breakfast and at 8 AM the group is headed for Zakopane. it is a lovely scenic ride – we pass fields of wildflowers – white, purple, blue and of course, the bright red poppies. Haystacks abound – where is Monet when you need him?
First the tram ride up the mountain. What a fantastic view! One mountain is called the sleeping knight. Another mountain, Giewont, had a huge cross on its crest. Back down the mountain and time for lunch. Most of us dined al fresco and enjoyed the special mountaineer’s soup. Time for some serious shopping. Some of the group opted to people watch. Some enjoyed culinary delights such as waffles with ice cream. Some of us went on the great amber hunt! You name it and the item was for sale – including St. Bernard puppies. There was a street performer who remained motionless until someone gave him some money. Ail too soon it was time to leave. A quick pause as we entered Bochnia for a photo op by the sign listing sister cities and Roselle!
A special farewell dinner – first cocktails at Jan, the mayor’s house what a gorgeous garden and then off to a restaurant that looked like a castle. Another wonderful meal. After saying our fond farewells, the group separated – some went into Bochnia’s main square to hear a concert. Some just retired. Carol and Vic joined Werner Krause from Bad Salzdefurth (another of Bochnia’s sister cities) for some beer. Vic was distributing Roselle/Bochnia pins to those around us. One person gave him a gift in return – a tea candle holder made from salt.
11 years ago, I was given an opportunity to participate in the celebrations commemorating the fifth centenary of the evangelization in America that had begun on 12th October 1492 in Santo Domingo. It took place toward the end of the jubilee year commemorating this important event, on 9-15 August in the heart of the United States in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where the Eighth World Youth Day was celebrated. Young people from 80 countries, including Eastern and Western Europe, gathered to proclaim their common faith in the crucified and risen Christ. The Holy Father Pope John Paul II and the young people were meditating on life in Christ, the fullness of life, the present and the future.
St. Nicholas Parish and our town Bochnia are also approaching the end of the great jubilee commemorating their 750-year existence. Most celebrations took place last year.
We are gathered here today, in the undergrounds of Bochnia, in the Salt Mine and in St Kinga’s Chapel to take part in the Eucharistic celebration. This mass starts the celebration of Bochnia Days, and it is the thanksgiving for what will happen here, in the Salt Mine after the mass, since a historic event will take place here: the signing of the Sister City agreement between a friendly village of Roselle from the U.S.A and a Polish town Bochnia.
I wholeheartedly greet our distinguished guests from America, Roselle, our guests from Germany (they too celebrated the 250-year anniversary of St Boniface) and the delegation from a sister city Kezmarok from Slovakia.
I want to greet our town authorities, President Jan Olszewski, Mayor Wojciech Cholewa and all other guests and organizers who have come to join us in this Eucharistic celebration.
Dear brothers and sisters!
God brought us into being at the end of the 20th century, at the beginning of the third millennium. It is very significant. Due to this fact we are able to experience different interesting transformations, economic and political situations all over the world. The Solidarity movement was established in our times, the totalitarian communist system collapsed, the Berlin Wall fell. All this happened without bloodshed, which a few dozens of years ago seemed impossible. However, there are still wars, conflicts, arguments. Blood is still being shed; people are still dying on the globe.
We notice increasingly more often the efforts of the world, countries, nations, cities put into uniting in cooperation, in partnership. Only then can the world give sense to human life, if it understands that all the truth about human happiness finds itself in God who is love. Everything positive that He makes in our times, will take place based on God’s Commandments. Jesus Christ says: „You cannot do anything without me”.
Catholic youth give voice to their identity and their will to build interpersonal bonds based on the truths and values of the Gospel. Young people say „yes” to the life and peace and oppose the danger of death which threatens the culture of life
Prayer is the weapon in the hand of believers. In comparison with the reserves of the world’s arsenals, this weapon seems to be inconspicuous, but it has enormous spiritual power which frees itself when all people believing in God join it. John Paul II believes that in order to improve this human world, tormented and frightened, we have to pray for peace and be on our guard so that „consciences do not give in to the temptation of selfishness, lie and violence”.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God”
I am happy that there are such initiatives as the one for signing the sister city agreement between the village of Roselle and our town Bochnia. They are designed not for the breakup, not for war but for collaboration, gaining experience from other countries, communities, cities.
I wish you all so that the aspiration for unity and collaboration was fruitful and beneficial for us all and for those to come. Let’s pray for all this. Amen.
P -Pride in Potential
O – Outgoing and friendly people
L- Lush Landscape
A – Attractive Antiquities
N – Noteworthy Nourishment
D – Dedicated to Development
B – Bustling Businesses 0 – Old salt mine
C – Choice Cuisine
H – Hospitality, Hotels and Hills
N – Noble Nowy Wisnicz
I – International Interests
A – Ancient Area
Family, Friends, Come to the table
A Feast for all senses awaits
Look at the festive settings –
Gala decorations, gleaming china and cutlery Gracefully folded napkins
Smell the delicious aromas –
Heaping platters of homemade specialties and
Taste the succulent savories and sweets – Sznycel wiedenski, kielbasa, golabki, Surowka, homemade pickles, sernik
Hear the enjoyment –
Sizzling food, pleasant conversation Numerous toasts
Sense the friendship and pleasure