Krakow

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Trail of literary characters

Krakow

  • St. Mary’s Basilica

    The main character of Ksawery Pruszyński’s short story Trębacz z Samarkandy (1946) hears a friend’s story in Tehran that turns out to be the “second half” of the well-known Krakow legend, referring to the dramatic interrupted ending of the melody of the bugle call.

    St. Mary’s Basilica

    The main character of Ksawery Pruszyński’s short story Trębacz z Samarkandy (1946) hears a friend’s story in Tehran that turns out to be the “second half” of the well-known Krakow legend, referring to the dramatic interrupted ending of the melody of the bugle call. So, the Tatars suffered a defeat, because they broke off the sound of the trumpeter calling for prayer. The curse could not be reversed “before a trumpeter from Lechia sounded his trumpet in the market square in Samarkand, playing the song that he had been prevented from finishing before. [...] It is certain that no one here has heard about Krakow, the bugle call, our Lajkonik. But they had a legend which was sort of a half of our legend. And just like in our climate we find their steppe patterns, in the picture of that legend we find a trace of ours. In the blue twilight of the night, by a white wall gone light blue, Krakow suddenly slid down over the image of Samarkand. The tower of St. Mary’s Basilica, Market Square, Gołębia Street, Planty Park. The curtain of space and time fell. The miles and the ages have shrunk somewhere. Between the distant Krakow and the nearly legendary Samarkand, a patterned drawing of a common legend, identical to them and to us, began to form”.

  • Town Hall Tower

    The main character of Janusz Anderman’s short novel, Gra na zwłokę (1979), is walking around Krakow. His route includes the Market Square: “I didn’t have a watch and in order to see the hands of the clock on the Town Hall Tower, I had to raise my head slowly to adapt my pupils to the nagging raindrops; first, there was a stone bench surrounding the building, next a bay window attached to the wall; it looked as if it came from some architect’s mad dream and was a work of a popular TV starfish; and then I saw the dial of the clock – it was almost noon”. This passage includes a reference to the figure of Wiktor Zin, one of the best-known post-war architectural historians and conservators, who gained renown not only thanks to his popular series of television stories entitled Piórkiem i węglem, but also a controversial conversion of the Town Hall Tower carried out in the 1960s.

     

    Town Hall Tower

    The main character of Janusz Anderman’s short novel, Gra na zwłokę (1979), is walking around Krakow. His route includes the Market Square: “I didn’t have a watch and in order to see the hands of the clock on the Town Hall Tower, I had to raise my head slowly to adapt my pupils to the nagging raindrops; first, there was a stone bench surrounding the building, next a bay window attached to the wall; it looked as if it came from some architect’s mad dream and was a work of a popular TV starfish; and then I saw the dial of the clock – it was almost noon”. This passage includes a reference to the figure of Wiktor Zin, one of the best-known post-war architectural historians and conservators, who gained renown not only thanks to his popular series of television stories entitled Piórkiem i węglem, but also a controversial conversion of the Town Hall Tower carried out in the 1960s.

  • Feniks

    The first floor of the building where the former “Feniks” insurance company was located, situated on the corner of ul. św. Jana and Market Square, now houses a restaurant and a night club.  The main character of Stanisław Dygat’s Disneyland (1965), Marek Arens, was to attack prostitute Lola “Fiat 1100” there, next to the cloakroom on the first floor.

    Feniks

    The first floor of the building where the former “Feniks” insurance company was located, situated on the corner of ul. św. Jana and Market Square, now houses a restaurant and a night club. The main character of Stanisław Dygat’s Disneyland (1965), Marek Arens, was to attack prostitute Lola “Fiat 1100” there, next to the cloakroom on the first floor. This disastrous event led to the young man’s arrest: “ Three men held me strongly in the hall at »Feniks«, right next to the cloakroom, although I wasn’t trying to break free and I didn’t show any signs of wanting to do so. My lip was cut and my face swollen. [...] a nervous siren wail could be heard and soon after, two police officers with straps under their chins came in. They walked slowly, and when the others saw them, they stopped beating me up and let me go. [...] They started to move back, and the cloakroom attendant burst out laughing like an idiot, but he suddenly stopped and looked with his mouth open at the walking policemen”.

  • The Small Market Square

    The tenement house located approximately halfway down the eastern frontage is the original house in which the “master” lived – the main character of Marcin Świetlicki’s two novels: Dwanaście (second floor) and Trzynaście (first floor). He returns to this tiny flat several times a day. Descriptions of the view from the window overlooking the Small Market Square are among the most vivid, reflective, and lyrical passages in Świetlicki’s prose.

    The Small Market Square

    The tenement house located approximately halfway down the eastern frontage is the original house in which the “master” lived – the main character of Marcin Świetlicki’s two novels: Dwanaście (second floor) and Trzynaście (first floor). He returns to this tiny flat several times a day. Descriptions of the view from the window overlooking the Small Market Square are among the most vivid, reflective, and lyrical passages in Świetlicki’s prose:

    “The master is standing at the window.
    The first floor of a tenement house in the Small Market Square.
    Late evening.
    The master is drunk.
    But not drunk enough not to be able to see.
    The master sees more and more clearly, day by day, a bent road
    sign depicting a white adult leading a white
    child against a blue background.
    The master sees the shrine of the store with devotional items
    and specialist liturgical equipment, lit up by a yellow electric
    light.
    A white surplice and a religious figurine in a blue
    dress were in the display case.
    This illuminated little shop is currently the only
    bright spot on the opposite wall of the Small Market Square.
    It is dark in the world at the moment.
    At the moment, there is nothing else in the world but this
    illuminated little shop”.

  • The Grand Hotel

    The hotel is known, above all, from Henryk Worcell’s Zaklęte rewiry; situated on the corner of ul. Sławkowska and św. Tomasza, it can also be found in Jan Polkowski’s novel, Ślady krwi (2013). Searching for traces of his past, its main character, Henryk Harsynowicz, visits Krakow and stays at the Grand.

    The Grand Hotel

    The hotel is known, above all, from Henryk Worcell’s Zaklęte rewiry; situated on the corner of ul. Sławkowska and św. Tomasza, it can also be found in Jan Polkowski’s novel, Ślady krwi (2013). Searching for traces of his past, its main character, Henryk Harsynowicz, visits Krakow and stays at the Grand. “Szpitalna had a new granite surface. The Market Square was also paved with grey, bleak sett stone. The cobblestones, removed during the period of the Polish People’s Republic, were sold to the naive Swedes or thrown into the Vistula River. Market Square was then paved with large, smooth granite slabs, on which entire generations broke their bones. He turned from the A-B line into Sławkowska, he was just a stone’s throw away from the Grand Hotel.” The next day, “he went out to the silent Sławkowska and turned towards the Planty Park. It stood numb, wrapped in a pale soft canvas. It looked as if it was hastily sketched by Wyspiański by barely touching the slightly soiled circles of the watercolours with the tips of the brushes and smearing them on the greyish, crumpled paper”.

  • Collegium Maius

    Zofia (Sophie) Zawistowska, the main character of William Styron’s famous novel, Sophie’s Choice (1979), is the daughter of a Jagiellonian University professor, lawyer Zbigniew Biegański, and the wife of a young mathematician Kazimierz Zawistowski. In the novel, both men were arrested on the 6th of November 1939 during a meeting of Krakow’s scholars at Collegium Novum organised using a stratagem.

    Collegium Maius

    Zofia (Sophie) Zawistowska, the main character of William Styron’s famous novel, Sophie’s Choice (1979), is the daughter of a Jagiellonian University professor, lawyer Zbigniew Biegański, and the wife of a young mathematician Kazimierz Zawistowski. In the novel, both men were arrested on the 6th of November 1939 during a meeting of Krakow’s scholars at Collegium Novum organised using a stratagem.

    In 1947, Sophie reveals the first layer of the tragic story of her life. She is trying to pull herself together after being liberated from the Auschwitz camp: “One morning that November I went to Mass in St. Mary’s church, that is the church that has the trumpets, you know. [...] But when I prayed at Mass this morning I had a... a prémonition – yes, the same, a premonition, and was filled with this slowly mounting frightful sensation. I didn’t know what the fright was about, but in a sudden the prayer stop in my mouth and I could feel the wind blowing in the church around me, very wet and cold. And then I remembered what caused the fright, something that just came over me like a bright flash. Because I remembered that this same morning the new Nazi Governor General of Krakow district, this man named Frank, had make the faculty of the university to assemble in the cour de maison, you know, courtyard of the university, where they were to be told the new rules for the faculty under the occupation. It was nothing. It was to be a simple assembly. They were supposed to be there that morning. My father and Kazik heard about this only the day before and it appeared, you know, perfectly reasonable and no one thought about it very much. But now in this bright flash I felt something very, very wrong and I run from the church into the street”.

    The account of the circumstances of the professors’ arrest is inaccurate (the courtyard of Collegium Maius); so is the fact of Sophie’s father’s and husband’s execution at Sachsenhausen (according to historical findings, nobody was executed), which was supposed to have taken place on the 1st of January 1940.

  • Smocza Jama (The Dragon’s Den)

    The Wawel cave is a place where the Dragon and Prince Krak had a powwow in the opening scene of Stanisław Pagaczewski’s Porwanie Baltazara Gąbki (1965). Their conversation concerned the expedition to Kraina Deszczowców (“Land of the Raincoats”), the aim of which was to save Baltazar. “»Am I disturbing you?« asked the Prince worriedly and started looking for a usable chair. He knew from experience that in the Dragon’s Den, every item was usually used for something else than its appearance would suggest. He remembered that just a week ago, when he sat on the Dragon’s divan, he shot up to the Den’s ceiling, because his inventive host was just running some tests aimed at assembling a home-made rocket with an automatically detachable pilot cabin”.

    Smocza Jama (The Dragon’s Den)

    The Wawel cave is a place where the Dragon and Prince Krak had a powwow in the opening scene of Stanisław Pagaczewski’s Porwanie Baltazara Gąbki (1965). Their conversation concerned the expedition to Kraina Deszczowców (“Land of the Raincoats”), the aim of which was to save Baltazar. “»Am I disturbing you?« asked the Prince worriedly and started looking for a usable chair. He knew from experience that in the Dragon’s Den, every item was usually used for something else than its appearance would suggest. He remembered that just a week ago, when he sat on the Dragon’s divan, he shot up to the Den’s ceiling, because his inventive host was just running some tests aimed at assembling a home-made rocket with an automatically detachable pilot cabin”.

    Dorota Terakowska also explores the Dragon’s Den – in Władca Lewawu written during martial law.  Bartek, the protagonist of this fairy-tale story, is  roaming Krakow in search of his lost mother. When he visits Wawel and the Dragon’s Den yet again, a surprise awaits him... “I doubt whether there is another boy in Krakow who knows Wawel as well as Bartek does. Every time he ran away, he always ended up here. As if some mysterious power radiating from the Royal Castle was summoning him. But that day, the boy did not climb up Wawel Hill. He stopped at its foot, next to the Dragon’s Den. He had no money for the ticket, so he looked around for a while, meditating on how to get inside. The air was sultry that day and the coolness of the Dragon’s Den lured the boy. The statue of the Dragon located next to the entrance belched out real fire from time to time, filling a large group of tourists with awe. At one point, a tour headed towards the entrance, giggling and talking loudly. Bartek found himself in the middle of the group, seemingly by accident, and this way, he managed to avoid the ticket inspection. When the tour went deeper into the rock corridor, Bartek separated himself from the group as soon as possible.

    The rock corridor, carved ages ago in the calcareous hill hiding the legendary lair of the Wawel Dragon, turned left and right, it meandered, in some places it was lit brightly and only dimly in others. Because Bartek knew this place very well, he immediately started to ferret around the Den’s nooks and crannies. He visited this place many times, but never on his own, it was always with some tours, and often even with a guide, whose sonorous voice deprived the Dragon’s Den of all its mysterious charm. This time, he managed to leave the group well behind. He was alone at last. He was observing the cave carefully and as though with different eyes. He noticed dark and narrow holes in its walls, some up high, some low, right next to the ground, and wondered whether he could discover any completely new passages, unknown to anyone, if only no adults prevented him from it.

    At one point, the corridor split and apart from the main branch, a small blind path emerged, ending abruptly with a stone wall. And it was in that wall, approximately in the middle, that a dark gaping hole was visible. It was rather small. Just the right size for a slim, little boy to fit in”.

  • Veit Stoss’ house, ul. Grodzka

    Antonina Domańska, author of the novel Historia żółtej ciżemki (1913), leads her protagonist Wawrzek to the corner tenement house in which the great sculptor lived. The commemorative plaque points to Grodzka 39/41.

    Veit Stoss’ house, ul. Grodzka

    Antonina Domańska, author of the novel Historia żółtej ciżemki (1913), leads her protagonist Wawrzek to the corner tenement house in which the great sculptor lived. The commemorative plaque points to Grodzka 39/41.

    “They turned from Kanonicza into Poselska and entered the corner house on the left. The entrance hall was short and narrow, but the courtyard was huge as a market square. More than half of this square was taken up by a large wooden shed. The priest stopped and asked a passing boy dressed in a grey apron up to his neck, from under which white shirt sleeves could be seen, about something. Wawrzuś looked to the right and to the left indifferently, he saw over a dozen beech and lime logs leaning against the wall along one of the courtyard’s sides. White chunks of wood hewn with an axe were lying next to them; a little further, by another wall, again some logs oddly chopped; it seemed as if there was something resembling a head at the top, then some indistinct hands, and again a log of wood was lying on the ground, you could swear it was a huge wing.

    «What are they for?» – the child wondered.

    On the side, the stairs led to a porch, through which you could enter the flat. The shed had three wide windows and a door, open wide at the moment. The boy in the apron pointed in that direction and the canon walked towards the shed, dragging Wawrzek with him. They were several steps away from the door, when they heard a low, sonorous voice, clearly very cross. Someone was shouting in anger, someone else was responding, the noise grew louder and louder”.

  • The Planty Park

    Andrzej Kijowski’s short novel, Oskarżony, was published in 1959. Descriptions of the wandering of its protagonist, entangled in a very difficult family situation, are accompanied by many brilliant images of Krakow. One of them takes us to the Planty Park, which borders on a no longer existing prison (now the Archaeological Museum).

    The Planty Park

    Andrzej Kijowski’s short novel, Oskarżony, was published in 1959. Descriptions of the wandering of its protagonist, entangled in a very difficult family situation, are accompanied by many brilliant images of Krakow. One of them takes us to the Planty Park, which borders on a no longer existing prison (now the Archaeological Museum): “Lots of lonely older men and women with their eyes fixed on what’s in front of them. Children are running on the grass shrieking, looking for chestnuts. There are no chestnuts, just empty husks, white inside like shells. One of the trees is surrounded by a rowdy bunch. A squirrel flattened itself head down against the trunk. Further on, there are few children, it’s empty, gloomy – trees are getting higher and at the end of the alley, the dark bulk of the castle emerges. There are massive tenement houses with covered balconies supported by the arms of atlantes on the right, and on the left – the prison wall glistening with chips of glass. A wooden tower stands on the corner, the shadow of a man can be seen in the glass sentry box. The prison wall adjoins a red building with a Gothic turret. The theological seminary. The building has two storeys. It has tall windows in carved stone frames. All of the windows on the ground floor are closed, and all of the windows on the higher floors are ajar. A lamp with a flat green lampshade can be seen hanging from the ceiling in each of them and a cross on the wall, in the same place in every room. In the castle, the clock chimed deeply four times”.

  • The Cracovia Hotel

    It was from the Cracovia Hotel (a superb building designed by architect Witold Cęckiewicz, now facing demolition) that the protagonist of Jerzy Pilch’s Spis cudzołożnic (1993) began wandering around Krakow of the mid-1980s. Gustaw is an assistant lecturer at the Faculty of Polish Studies and an unfulfilled writer, whose task is to accompany a “Swedish specialist in the humanities” during his business trip.

    The Cracovia Hotel

    It was from the Cracovia Hotel (a superb building designed by architect Witold Cęckiewicz, now facing demolition) that the protagonist of Jerzy Pilch’s Spis cudzołożnic (1993) began wandering around Krakow of the mid-1980s. Gustaw is an assistant lecturer at the Faculty of Polish Studies and an unfulfilled writer, whose task is to accompany a “Swedish specialist in the humanities” during his business trip. “I crossed the hotel threshold seized with an absolute storm of sensations and feelings. After all, I remembered the white moon grass that used to grow there before the builders designated by Władysław Gomułka began the construction work; I remember women sitting on an inaccessible terrace (or one should rather say: an inaccessible deck – because I, Gustaw, am too submissive of a narrator to forgo the picture of a white transatlantic liner sailing across the dark brown architecture of Krakow) – so I remembered women sitting on an inaccessible hotel deck, women of appallingly tanned calves, I remembered chefs and cooks in tall hats who watched matches in the Cracovia Stadium through lorgnettes from the top balconies, a master hairdresser Mr. Futra, old beer prices, fanciful little hats of swarthy foreigners; I also remembered Agata Tłamsik, obviously, who smuggled Gustaw into her room in her peculiar manner (full of majesty) in the mid-1970s; and I recalled stories of Fidel Castro, who hummed revolutionary Cuban songs in the downstairs bar, in the company of the 1st Secretary of the Regional Committee Józef K. and Basia Hejnalistka”.

  • The Cracovia Stadium

    In Jerzy Pilch’s short story entitled Rozdział o nieruchomo siedzącej postaci (2006), we read the protagonist’s memories: “I went to Cracovia’s football matches as if on holiday. My nerves, constantly on fire, went out. I sat in the stadium of my childhood [ul. Kałuży 1], the same clouds floated over the Rudawa River, behind my back, there was a block of flats from Gomułka’s time, from which I once wanted to jump, the Błonia field overgrown with Asian grass was in front of me – everything was still similar to my memories and everything was already different – just like after death”.

     

    The Cracovia Stadium

    In Jerzy Pilch’s short story entitled Rozdział o nieruchomo siedzącej postaci (2006), we read the protagonist’s memories: “I went to Cracovia’s football matches as if on holiday. My nerves, constantly on fire, went out. I sat in the stadium of my childhood [ul. Kałuży 1], the same clouds floated over the Rudawa River, behind my back, there was a block of flats from Gomułka’s time, from which I once wanted to jump, the Błonia field overgrown with Asian grass was in front of me – everything was still similar to my memories and everything was already different – just like after death”.

  • The Mikro Cinema

    In Czesław Miłosz’s The Captive Mind (1953), we find a building which now houses an art house. In the post-war period, it was the seat of “Film Polski” (Polish Film) – a monopolistic company established in 1945 under a decree of the State National Council on the nationalisation of cinematography. The cinema’s interiors are located in the proximity of a complex of three tenements, which housed the Regional Office for Public Security in the years 1945-1956 (pl. Inwalidów 3-5). Cells were set up in the basements connected by a labyrinth of corridors with windows bricked up, where the only source of light was a light bulb which was constantly on.

    The Mikro Cinema

    In Czesław Miłosz’s The Captive Mind (1953), we find a building which now houses an art house. In the post-war period, it was the seat of “Film Polski” (Polish Film) – a monopolistic company established in 1945 under a decree of the State National Council on the nationalisation of cinematography. The cinema’s interiors are located in the proximity of a complex of three tenements, which housed the Regional Office for Public Security in the years 1945-1956 (pl. Inwalidów 3-5). Cells were set up in the basements connected by a labyrinth of corridors with windows bricked up, where the only source of light was a light bulb which was constantly on.

    It was in the rooms of “Film Polski” that the idea for one of the best-known post-war novels was to emerge. Czesław Miłosz wrote about this in a chapter dedicated to Alpha, i.e. Jerzy Andrzejewski: “It was May, 1945, in the medieval city of Krakow. Alpha and I, as well as many other writers and artists, had taken refuge there after the destruction of Warsaw. The night the news of the fall of Berlin came was lit with bursts of rockets and shells, and the streets echoed with the fire of small arms as the soldiers of the victorious Red Army celebrated the prospect of a speedy return home. The next morning, on a fine spring day, Alpha and I were sitting in the office of Polish Film, working on a scenario. Tying up the loose ends of a film is a burdensome business; we were putting our feet up on tables and armchairs, we were pacing the room, smoking too many cigarettes and constantly being lured to the window through which came the warble of sparrows. Outside the window was a courtyard with young trees, and beyond the courtyard a huge building lately transformed into a prison and the headquarters of the Security Police. We saw scores of young men behind the barred windows of the ground floor. Some had thrust their faces into the sun in an effort to get a tan. Others were fishing with wire hooks for the bits of paper which had been tossed out on the sand from neighbouring cells. Standing in the window, we observed them in silence. It was easy to guess that these were soldiers of the Underground Army. Had the London Government-in-Exile returned to Poland, these soldiers of the “underground state” would have been honoured and feted as heroes. Instead, they were incarcerated as a politically uncertain element – another of History’s ironic jokes. [...] These were the brothers of the young people who had fought and died in the Warsaw uprising, people whose blind self-sacrifice lay on Alpha’s conscience. I do not know what he was thinking as he looked at the windows of those prison cells. Perhaps even then he was sketching the plan of his first post-war novel”.

  • ul. Dolnych Młynów

    One of the characters of Kornel Filipowicz’s generational novel entitled Ulica Gołębia (1966) is Michał, a student renting a place in the area of the cigarette factory. Filipowicz sketches a picture of this part of Krakow, characteristic of the 1930s: “Until recently, the one-storey house on ul. Dolnych Młynów, with a wide forecourt vaulted like a gate of a suburban tavern, was located in the outskirts of the town.

    ul. Dolnych Młynów

    One of the characters of Kornel Filipowicz’s generational novel entitled Ulica Gołębia (1966) is Michał, a student renting a place in the area of the cigarette factory. Filipowicz sketches a picture of this part of Krakow, characteristic of the 1930s: “Until recently, the one-storey house on ul. Dolnych Młynów, with a wide forecourt vaulted like a gate of a suburban tavern, was located in the outskirts of the town. By the year Michał moved in, the Krakow of huge buildings, tenements, and edifices has already reached Aleja Mickiewicza, and even crossed it. Still, the house on Dolnych Młynów had no electrical wiring. [...] So Michał moved into a narrow, dark room, which had to be entered through the kitchen, along a pass meandering between the cupboards, chests, boxes, and plush curtains hung on a wire, and with time, he got to like this damp interior, smelly with rotting rags, lined with a hotchpotch of the strangest paintings; [...] The neighbourhood was also pleasant, busy: the nearby cigarette factory, called the “cigfactory” by Krakow’s inhabitants, wafted the stifling aroma of tobacco around, and every week, on Saturdays, it enlivened the local dives and shops. On pay day, long before the opening of the wide, fortified factory gate, resembling a prison door, mothers with children, prostitutes, creditors and shoelace, mirror, and condom traders, shopkeepers and girls wanting to go to the cinema and for a walk later on queued up on the pavements – all of them waited for the siren to announce the end of work and people with money in their pockets to start coming out of the gate”.

  • A house on ul. Karmelicka

    The tenement house located near the intersection with ul. Kremerowska, erected according to Jan Zawieyski’s design in the years 1912-1913, was described in detail (although without providing the name of the city) in Andrzej Kijowski’s novel Dziecko przez ptaka przyniesione (1968). Its protagonist is a boy raised by his grandfather – owner of a horse-drawn vehicle rental company falling into decline.

    A house on ul. Karmelicka

    The tenement house located near the intersection with ul. Kremerowska, erected according to Jan Zawieyski’s design in the years 1912-1913, was described in detail (although without providing the name of the city) in Andrzej Kijowski’s novel Dziecko przez ptaka przyniesione (1968). Its protagonist is a boy raised by his grandfather – owner of a horse-drawn vehicle rental company falling into decline. “There is only one house in this city, in which I establish my anchorage – an immobile place of the world. And now a description will follow, by comparison, as used to be customary, when a writer compared a house to a ship or to a man; sometimes to another house. This one could be compared to a heavy frigate with a figurehead of the Virgin at the stern (I will talk about the Virgin separately); to the head of an old man with his eyebrows knitted (I will also talk about the brows); and finally to a castle, theatre, church, railway station, stock exchange, bank, and a covered market. The Virgin in a veil, with her hands open, stands there in a niche, between storeys, crushing a snake’s head with her foot (oh smiling Virgin gracing the facade and attracting the eyes of devout passers-by, please look at the story with favour and win us the favour of those who get to know it!).  There are eaves over the third floor, i.e. a part of the roof protruding as if a grim old man just knitted his eyebrows”.

  • A house on ul. Długa

    Krzysztof, a student from Silesia – the main character of Adam Zagajewski’s novel Ciepło, zimno (1975) – settled in lodgings on ul. Długa. His mother “found a flat on ul. Długa for four hundred zlotys per month, in a double room at Mrs. Tolkmicka’s: former heiress, former owner of the manor in Podsiadły and a home farm in Janioły, current owner of a three-bedroom flat, a dresser, an oak table, a porcelain set, silverware, and housemaid Helena. General Haller’s brother also lived there, a tall blind old man, who listened to a Western radio station all day long, so that he didn’t even have to pay the licence fee for the national radio”.

     

    A house on ul. Długa

    Krzysztof, a student from Silesia – the main character of Adam Zagajewski’s novel Ciepło, zimno (1975) – settled in lodgings on ul. Długa. His mother “found a flat on ul. Długa for four hundred zlotys per month, in a double room at Mrs. Tolkmicka’s: former heiress, former owner of the manor in Podsiadły and a home farm in Janioły, current owner of a three-bedroom flat, a dresser, an oak table, a porcelain set, silverware, and housemaid Helena. General Haller’s brother also lived there, a tall blind old man, who listened to a Western radio station all day long, so that he didn’t even have to pay the licence fee for the national radio”.

  • Kraków Główny railway station

    A British man named Joseph, the protagonist of James Hopkin’s “Krakow” story Winter Under Water (2007), comes to Krakow. He is supposed to meet his beloved Marta here, whom he had met in England.

    Kraków Główny railway station

    A British man named Joseph, the protagonist of James Hopkin’s “Krakow” story Winter Under Water (2007), comes to Krakow. He is supposed to meet his beloved Marta here, whom he had met in England. The space of the railway station at dawn meets his eyes: “In the next corridor, where the concrete floor is dark with a stream of melt-water, elderly women in flowery headscarves and pale blue aprons are setting out stalls on upturned cardboard boxes. There are rolls of mountain cheese, piles of pretzels (like abandoned fairground hoops), hundreds of pairs of hiking socks, bras that look as though you could carry a head in each cup, furry slippers, purple plastic flowers, leather gloves, a stack of alarm clocks (their alarms going off, no doubt in a bid to convince everyone it’s morning, despite the darkness, despite the cold), a wall of green bananas, and a dozen black umbrellas. Further along, there are stalls of tatty books, their covers flapping like wings held by a nail. Joseph notices a few art-books. One of them shows a shimmering portrait of a brown-eyed woman, and above this, in large letters, the name ‘Witkacy’”.

  • The botanical garden

    Roma Ligocka (real name: Roma Liebling) remembered Krakow’s botanical garden as one of the most beautiful places of her childhood, which fell on the years of the occupation. When for a year and a half, she was in hiding in the flat of the Polish Kiernik family (located on one of the streets off ul. Karmelicka), she could not move around freely anywhere outside of the house. Only sometimes did her mother take her to ul. Kopernika at dawn.

    The botanical garden

    Roma Ligocka (real name: Roma Liebling) remembered Krakow’s botanical garden as one of the most beautiful places of her childhood, which fell on the years of the occupation. When for a year and a half, she was in hiding in the flat of the Polish Kiernik family (located on one of the streets off ul. Karmelicka), she could not move around freely anywhere outside of the house. Only sometimes did her mother take her to ul. Kopernika at dawn. The guard let them in on the sly: “In the secret garden, there is no time, no fear, there are no Germans or their bans. There is only me and the enchanted trees whispering their story to me, colourful flowers that emerge from the ground like living precious stones, and silent red and white fish in a fabulous pond. I even saw a blackbird. It looks exactly like on the cover of my book. I am a little scared of it, just like I am of all birds and animals. I am sitting in a shaded corner and I am building tiny bridges, and small sheds and gardens out of twigs. I am whispering to myself and telling myself stories”.

  • ul. Wąska

    The Kazimierz district in 1990. Little boys Kuba and Konrad want to solve the mystery of the janitor’s death. They are both pupils of primary school no. 14, which, together with the entire district, unchanged by the rapid process of commercialisation, was described by Łukasz Orbitowski in his novel Tracę ciepło (2007).

    ul. Wąska

    The Kazimierz district in 1990. Little boys Kuba and Konrad want to solve the mystery of the janitor’s death. They are both pupils of primary school no. 14, which, together with the entire district, unchanged by the rapid process of commercialisation, was described by Łukasz Orbitowski in his novel Tracę ciepło (2007): “You had to walk along the brick school building. During the war, the Germans made a temporary camp here. The prisoners’ fear infected the structure. It stood on the street as if on the edge of a cliff, deeply rooted and at the same time ready to break off and dodge the threat. The gate’s arch resembled a mouth longing for air, the windows reflected the dirt of the street. Nothing could add life to this place, neither the stamping of feet, nor the laughter of the first graders. To me it was cold, the red colour reminded me of blood, a judge’s gown. The teachers probably thought the same, everyone was happy to go home. [...] I’d rather not think about what went on in the school’s basement during the occupation. Low corridors plunged into darkness and tens of doors suggested it was just a part of the labyrinth. When I was younger, the locker room filled me with terror. Always dark, damp as a cave, it seemed endless, and the imagination filled this space with ghouls and people so mutilated that they had to live in darkness. In the year zero, the locker room did not stir up emotions any more, it became just another dirty place at school. The eerie labyrinth turned into over a dozen rooms separated by grilles. Jackets and coats were hung on the hooks, shoes stood under the bench”.

  • ul. Lipowa

    Today the seat of a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, the building became widely known and recognisable thanks to Steven Spielberg’s famous Schindler’s List (1993), the screenplay of which was based on Thomas Keneally’s novel of the same title (1982).

    ul. Lipowa

    Today the seat of a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, the building became widely known and recognisable thanks to Steven Spielberg’s famous Schindler’s List (1993), the screenplay of which was based on Thomas Keneally’s novel of the same title (1982).

    In 1937, the “Rekord” enamelware factory was established here, which fell into debt two years later and declared bankruptcy (June 1939). During the war, it was leased (and later taken over) by Oskar Schindler (1908-1974). The production of the Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik – DEF (German Enamelware Factory) was focused on civil and military needs. Let us take a look at Thomas Keneally’s description: “The ghetto would introduce a minor inconvenience in Oskar Schindler’s life. It was usual for him to leave his luxury apartment in Straszewskiego, pass the limestone lump of the Wawel stuck in the mouth of the city like a cork in a bottle, and so roll down through Kazimierz, over the Kosciuszko bridge [this was the name of the Józef Piłsudski bridge until 1948 – E.Z-P.’s note] and left toward his factory in Zabłocie. Now that route would be blocked by the ghetto walls. It was a minor problem, but it made the idea of maintaining an apartment on the top floor of his office building in Lipowa Street more reasonable. It wasn’t such a bad place, built in the style of Walter Gropius. Lots of glass and light, fashionable cubic bricks in the entranceway”.

  • Podgórze Market Square

    Tadeusz Peiper was born in the “Pod Jeleniami” house (“Deer House”) in the Podgórze Market Square as a son of a barrister and City Council assessor (and even the Deputy Mayor of Podgórze for some time).

    Podgórze Market Square

    Tadeusz Peiper was born in the “Pod Jeleniami” house (“Deer House”) in the Podgórze Market Square as a son of a barrister and City Council assessor (and even the Deputy Mayor of Podgórze for some time). In his autobiographical novel, Ma lat 22 (1936), he wrote about fifteen-year-old Juliusz Ewski, who, having received a mysterious card from a stranger at school, slipped out of the house and waited impatiently for a meeting with him in the Podgórze Market Square, strolling past St. Joseph’s Church, which was being erected at the time, i.e. in the years 1905-1909. »Please take a walk on Saturday at 4:00 p.m....« It was easy to ask for it; he has already walked from ul. Sokoła [ul. Sokolska] to the church and back to the hazels once, and in order to justify his prolonged presence there, he has already tried to pick a yellowed leaf from a twig, but he still hasn’t filled the quarter that separated the moment of his arrival from the appointed time with these actions. He needed to find another reason to remain in the square. It seemed like a good idea to pretend that he was interested in some new detail in the church’s construction. He leaned against the wooden fence put up along the pavement and tilting his head excessively in one direction or another, he gazed into two grey buttresses supporting the church walls so interestingly, so interestingly, from so far and from so low; he gazed into the banister of the stairs leading to the sacristy, sketched in the dark so interestingly, so interestingly, of which so interestingly, so interestingly, only two steps were visible. [...] Yes, but only now does the clock on the town hall chime four”.

  • ul. Przedwiośnie

    The main character of Agnieszka Cieślik’s detective novel for teenagers, Księżniczka Przedwiośnia (1999), lives on the title street in Podgórze, running along the river whose waters flow into the nearby Vistula River(between the Podolski and Wołyński boulevards). The Princess has considerable standing among the local boys, she is the leader of the local bunch. Apart from that, she paints, preparing for her entrance exams to the Academy of Fine Arts: “I sat with a plate on the window sill overlooking Przedwiośnie. I looked at the street and at my picture on the easel. A kind of a violet dusk was falling on the street, or rather a harbinger of dusk, a haze of fog trailed over the wall from the Wilga River...”.

     

    ul. Przedwiośnie

    The main character of Agnieszka Cieślik’s detective novel for teenagers, Księżniczka Przedwiośnia (1999), lives on the title street in Podgórze, running along the river whose waters flow into the nearby Vistula River(between the Podolski and Wołyński boulevards). The Princess has considerable standing among the local boys, she is the leader of the local bunch. Apart from that, she paints, preparing for her entrance exams to the Academy of Fine Arts: “I sat with a plate on the window sill overlooking Przedwiośnie. I looked at the street and at my picture on the easel. A kind of a violet dusk was falling on the street, or rather a harbinger of dusk, a haze of fog trailed over the wall from the Wilga River...”.

  • The psychiatric hospital on ul. Babińskiego

    Describing the tragedy of an alcoholic unable to free himself from addiction in his novel Pod Mocnym Aniołem (The Mighty Angel, 2000), Jerzy Pilch included reminiscences of the therapy that the protagonist, falling into the state of delirium tremens, underwent many times at the hospital in Kobierzyn. “Tomorrow I shall quit these walls, that were once erected by Russian or Austrian builders; I leave with a light heart. I speak of the Russian or Austrian walls, because my liberated brain is filled with something of a tangle. I get Krakow mixed up with Warsaw, the Kobierzyn asylum with the Tworki asylum, I confuse the Vistula with the Utrata, Iwaszkiewicz with Gombrowicz, and the oceanic billows of smoke issuing from the furnaces of the Sendzimir (formerly Lenin) steel mill are associated with the clouds or odor rising from the pajamas of the insane”.

     

    The psychiatric hospital on ul. Babińskiego

    Describing the tragedy of an alcoholic unable to free himself from addiction in his novel Pod Mocnym Aniołem (The Mighty Angel, 2000), Jerzy Pilch included reminiscences of the therapy that the protagonist, falling into the state of delirium tremens, underwent many times at the hospital in Kobierzyn. “Tomorrow I shall quit these walls, that were once erected by Russian or Austrian builders; I leave with a light heart. I speak of the Russian or Austrian walls, because my liberated brain is filled with something of a tangle. I get Krakow mixed up with Warsaw, the Kobierzyn asylum with the Tworki asylum, I confuse the Vistula with the Utrata, Iwaszkiewicz with Gombrowicz, and the oceanic billows of smoke issuing from the furnaces of the Sendzimir (formerly Lenin) steel mill are associated with the clouds or odor rising from the pajamas of the insane”.

  • Nowa Huta

    One of the most important autobiographical literary stories of the post-war period is Sławomir Mrożek’s Baltazar (2006). Its protagonist, suffering from aphasia, critically reviews his own past as part of the recommended therapy. He recalls, among others, the story of his press debut, which was a piece of reportage on Nowa Huta written for Przekrój at the prompting of Adam Włodek (poet, translator, editor, communist activist, and animator in the literary circles, and as a private person – in the period described by Mrożek – Wisława Szymborska’s husband).

    Nowa Huta

    One of the most important autobiographical literary stories of the post-war period is Sławomir Mrożek’s Baltazar (2006). Its protagonist, suffering from aphasia, critically reviews his own past as part of the recommended therapy. He recalls, among others, the story of his press debut, which was a piece of reportage on Nowa Huta written for Przekrój at the prompting of Adam Włodek (poet, translator, editor, communist activist, and animator in the literary circles, and as a private person – in the period described by Mrożek – Wisława Szymborska’s husband). “The time to act has come for Włodek. [...] It was the height of his entire career, before he stepped out of the party [in 1957 – E.Z-P.’s note]. His other actions, the Korean War for instance, which broke out the following year, were less spectacular. Włodek did not have to go to Asia to join in. The good old fertile and defenceless village near Krakow, so close at hand, replaced exotic countries for him. And at the same time, the task to perform, Bolshevik style, Soviet style, was colossal like Magnitogorsk in Ural. To turn this land into Nowa Huta. Włodek decided to use me. »Use me« – that’s saying too much, considering the disproportion between the task and me. Such a huge undertaking cannot do without serious changes all over the country. One twenty-year-old unknown to anyone won’t get very far. But Włodek decided to use me on a much smaller scale. He decided that the piece of reportage for the 22nd of July 1950 – a date important for the city that did not exist yet – will be written by me”.