Architecture of Krakow

The architectural and urban complex of the old Krakow is considered one of the most important monuments of cultural heritage in Poland and in the world. The Old Town in Krakow was considered to be the highest in the national scale of the “0” class of monuments. The historical center of Krakow is currently on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The act that contributed to the creation of this historic band was a location privilege issued for Krakow in 1257. Soon after the privilege was granted, the city was planned according to the rules of Magdeburg law. The basis of the new plan was a checkerboard layout, in which the city streets intersect at a right angle, creating regular quarters. The Market Square became the central point of Krakow, the size of which was established as 4 out of 4 Krakow cords (approximately 200 x 200 m). 3 streets were marked out from each of the frontage, with the exception of the eastern frontage, where St. Mary’s church already existed, disturbing the regularity of the layout somewhat. Behind the church, an auxiliary market has been designated, today calledLittle. Other irregularities resulted from the necessity of combining the previously existing castles and church settlements – eg Grodzka Street, departing from the Market at an irregular angle led straight to the settlement of Okół and then to the Wawel Hill, and Bracka Street curved towards the Franciscan church. The quarters of the city, designated by the network of streets, were divided into plots called curias, which were allocated to townsmen for building houses. After a short time, the curses were divided in half, thus creating half- manorial plots, which are the basis for the layout of the old Krakow. The urban plan of Krakow has not been changed for several centuries, thanks to which it has survived to our times, currently serving as the center of a modern city. Starting from the thirteenth century, Krakow was surrounded by ramparts and defensive walls, and within them, tenement houses, churches and palaces were erected.

XV century
It was the peak phase of the development of art of the late Middle Ages, characterized by density of urban development and further development of fortifications with the second outer ring of walls (from 1404), as well as barbican. At that time, a university district with Collegium Maius was also established. In the architectural detail, a characteristic type of a portal with a fault-like pattern appeared, called the longshow portal. The churches were given the equipment with the altar settings of the altars, made of carved and painted parts with a polyptych construction with moving wings.

In sculpture, almost exclusively religious, the idealization of the form takes place in the so-called a soft style and then in a beautiful style with international Gothic features (Madonna from Krużlowa, Pietà from the church of St. Barbara from around 1410), a broken style appears in the middle of the century (triptych of the Holy Trinity from 1476 and Our Lady of Sorrows from 1475 – 1480 from the Świętokrzyska chapel in Wawel).

XVI century
It was a golden period for the art of Krakow, the artistic patronage of King Sigismund I the Old and the Italian influence initiated through the Hungarian court of the Jagiellonians. In the field of architecture and sculpture is influenced by Tuscan, including the work of Francis called Florentine (author of Renaissance niche tombstone of King John I Albert 1501 – 1502, co-author of Phase I reconstruction of the castle) and B. Berrecci, who completed the construction of the royal castle (1516 – 1533).

Some Renaissance forms still contain gothic elements, such as the castle portals of Master Benedykt, one of the castle’s builders. The full Renaissance forms represent the tombstones in the architectural frame with the lying statue of the deceased in numerous Krakow churches. Their author is, among others Jan Michałowicz from Urzędów (chapels and tombstones of Zebrzydowski and Padniewski bishops in the cathedral). The Mannerist features are exhibited by S. Gucci (the chapel and the tombstone of Stefan Batory in the cathedral, tombstones of Zygmunt II August and Anna Jagiellon in the Sigismund Chapel, 1574 – 1575).

The architecture of the neighborhood was the most important reconstruction Cloth (1556 – 1560) with the addition of a parapet and Renaissance porches at the side elevations. The residences at Kanonicza Street received arcaded courtyards like the royal castle.

The best examples of painting are provided by the works of S. Samostrzelnik, the author of the polychrome at the Cistercian monastery in Mogiła, who is also an outstanding miniatureist and portraitist (portrait of Bishop P. Tomicki). In the field of miniature painting, you should mention the Codex Baltazar Behem and the Pontifical Erazma Ciołek. The outstanding royal portraitist was M. Kober – a portrait of Stefan Batory, he is one of the best paintings of the Polish late 16th century.

Defensive walls
Developing quickly after location and enriching the city of Krakow, the capital of the country and the capital, the city felt a strong need to surround itself with defensive walls, but it required the reign of the ruling prince. An opportune occasion occurred in 1285, when Prince Leszek Czarny had to go to Hungary for help against the rebellious lords. At that time, he recommended the castle residents along with Princess Gryfiną to the residents of Krakow. Rebel forces entered the city, but Wawel, defended by burghers, defeated it in vain. When the prince came to his rescue, he allowed the city to build fortifications as a reward for loyalty. The works that were then underway lasted for several centuries.

In the fifteenth century, Krakow was already surrounded by a double wall with towers and city gates. The Great Wall had a height of 9 m, and the so-called. przedmurek – about 2.5 m. Just behind it was a deep moat with a width of 8 m, filled in the event of danger with water supplied from the Ore. As the art of war progressed, these fortifications were modernized and expanded. Only the northern, the strongest fragment of them has survived to our times.

The largest of the three Gothic fortification buildings of this type preserved so far in Europe was erected in the years 1498-1499 against the danger of a Turkish-Tatar invasion threatening Poland. He was then the most perfect achievement of military engineering; if necessary, he fired from 130 shooting ranges, and the three-meter thick walls protected him from cannonballs. Seven observation turrets allowed us to follow the enemy’s movements and direct the fire accordingly.

The entrance to this fortress led through a drawbridge, thrown over a deep, 8 m wide moat. The Barbican was once connected with the so-called Gate of Floriańska. They sew – a double mighty defensive wall with a passageway in the middle. The entire fortification complex, along with the arsenal, surrounded by walls, ramparts and moats, constituted an almost unbeatable barrier for the enemy. Only during the siege of Cracow by the Swedes in 1655 the crew of the barbican capitulated due to the lack of ammunition and the hunger that prevailed among them.

In 1817, thanks to the efforts of Feliks Radwański, the Barbakan was saved from demolition (due to the liquidation of the city walls). From that time on it has the function of a monument. Currently, it is a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow.

St. Florian’s Gate
Already mentioned in 1307, it was always a representative gate of the city. This was the way the invasions of the king and foreign delegates were coming to Wawel. Initially, the bastion was stonework, later it was built with a brick and covered with a steep roof. A wooden gate with iron gate, a gate dropped on the chains, was closed for the night. The defense of the Florian Gate belonged to the guild of furriers.

XVII century
It begins the era of weakening the role of Krakow as an artistic center due to the Swedish wars and the transfer of the permanent royal residence to Warsaw. Nevertheless, outstanding works were still created, introducing the city into the period of early Baroque, imbued with the spirit of Counter-Reformation and expressing a restrained ” Vasa style “. The best examples are the Jesuit church of Saint. Peter and Paul (1609 – 1619), the work of, among others architect J. Trevano and the Camaldolese church in Bielany near Kraków (1605 – 1630, architect of the façade of A. Spezz).

At the cathedral, the Vasa chapel (1664 – 1666) and the Zbaraski chapel in the Dominican church (1629 – 1633) were built. Other Baroque churches are: Bernardine (1670 – 1680, architect K. Mieroszewski), Visitants (1682 – 1695, architect A. Solari), Carmelites on the Sand (1655 – 1679), Saint. Anny (1689 – 1703, architect Tylman from Gameren).

The stucco decoration connected with architecture has been booming (GB Falconi – works in the church of St. Peter and Paul) and sculpture in stucco (Baltazar Fontana – works in the church of St. Anne). The church interiors were dominated by black marble mined in Dębnik near Krakow, used, among others, in the chapels of the Vasa, Zbaraski, the church of the Discalced Carmelites at Wesoła. A new type of tombstone was created in the form of a plaque with a painted or sculpted bust of the deceased, in an architectural and sculptural setting. Flowered baroque woodcarvings with impressive altars with a piled up architectural composition, decorated with ornament drawn from stencils: at the beginning of the century – fitting, in the first half of the century – cartilaginous and chordal, and in the second – acanthus.

Painting was developing less well, the most important was the work of the Venetian T. Dolabella, who arrived around 1598, the author of monumental religious compositions. As the creator of the altar paintings, F. Lekszycki was active, drawing patterns from the contemporary graphics of the great European masters. The services of painters from outside Krakow were also used: HE Siemiginowski, D. Schultz, and K. Dankwart.

18th century
From the beginning of the 18th century Baroque architecture was continued, reaching its declining phase. Representatives were: K. Bażanka (missionary church in Stradom 1719 – 1728, Pijarów 1714 – 1727, helmet of the Clock Tower in the cathedral), F. Placidi (facade of the Piarist church, Trinitarian church, Lipski chapel in the cathedral). Worth mentioning dating from the years 1733 – 1751 Church on the Rock Pauline (architect AG Müntzer). The late baroque sculpture was created by A. Frączkiewicz, and painting by S. Czechowicz and T. Kuntze. Foreign painters were also brought in to perform polychromes in churches: Piarists around 1759 and Trinitarians (F. Eckstein and J. Piltz). 5 is a successful import of the altar in the nave of St. Mary’s Church brush Pittoniego G., from the years 1740 – 1750.

Classical architecture is represented by Wodzicki palaces at the Main Market Square and ul. St. Jana (architect Jan Ferdynand Nax) and new university buildings: astronomical observatory and Collegium Phisicum (designer F. Radwański). In the field of sculpture, attention is drawn to the classicist, monumental tombstone of bishop K. Sołtyk in the cathedral from 1789. There are also imports of B. Thorvaldsen’s chisel: a replica of the Coptic Christ and a statue of Włodzimierz Potocki in the cathedral.

The Secession of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries is represented by the buildings of the Society of Friends of Fine Arts “Palace of Art” (architect F. Mączyński 1901), rebuilt Old Theater (F. Mączyński, T. Stryjeński 1903), Industrial School (S. Odrzywolski 1912), Museum Techno-Przemysłowy (T. Stryjeński, J. Czajkowski 1914) and the interior of the confectionery of Jan Michalik (K. Frycz 1911).

Different varieties of modernism were continued in the interwar period, designing at the Mickiewicz Avenue several buildings in the style of the “state representation”. among others: Mining Academy and Jagiellonian Library (architect W. Krzyżanowski), National Museum (C. Boratyński, E. Kreisler). The preservation and architectural works of A. Szyszko-Bohusz (works on Wawel, the PKO building, the Pryzmat gallery) were of great importance.

Artists painters formed groups, such as:

Formists (1917, T. Czyżewski, Z. and A. Pronaszko, T. Niesiołowski, A. Zamoyski, L. Chwistek),
Jednoróg (1925, J. Rubczak, F. Szczęsny-Kowarski, J. Fedkowicz),
Zwornik (1928)
Paris Committee (Kapists), founded by J. Pankiewicz (from 1931 in Krakow): J. Cybis, H. Rudzka-Cybisowa, J. Czapski, Z. Waliszewski, A. Nacht-Samborski, J. Jarema, TP Potworowski. Some of the Kapists created the largest monumental painting complex in Poland – the new plafonds on the first and second floor of the castle.
In addition, a vanguard operated within the framework of the Krakow Group (M. Jarema, H. Wiciński). Some of these artists were still created in the post-war period, and they were joined by: E. Eibisch, Z. Radnicki, C. Rzepiński, and W. Taranczewski. The group of young artists was created by: T. Kantor, T. Brzozowski, Jerzy Leopold Feiner, J. Nowosielski, K. Mikulski, J. Tchórzewski, and A. Wróblewski. The post-war sculpture and recent years is represented by such artists as: X. Dunikowski, J. Puget, M. Konieczny, M. Kruczek, J. Bereś.

In 1949-1956, at the time when socialist realism prevailed in Poland, many distinctive buildings in this style were created in Kraków, mainly in Nowa Huta, among others Administrative Center of the Combine, development of the Central Square, People’s Theater.

After 1956, modernism became popular again. The most important post-war modernist objects in Krakow include cinema “Kiev” (1962-1967), hotels “Cracovia” and “Forum”, the church of Our Lady Queen of Poland “The Ark of the Lord”, exhibition gallery BWA “Bunkier Sztuki”, as well as office buildings Biprostal and Biprocemwap.

Monuments of Cracow
Krakow suffered relatively little during World War II, which is why it is one of the most important European tourist centers with valuable monuments from various eras (over 6,000 objects).

For centuries, Kraków’s art has been a leading position among Polish artistic phenomena, represented both by preserved architectural monuments and high-value objects, as well as relatively rich museum and church collections (the altar of W. Stoss, a collection of Wawel arras, paintings by highly respected artists, among others. Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt). The flourishing of Krakow art was conditioned by the privileged position of the city, and then by the city as a commercial center, the seat of the prince of senior and, finally, the capital of a vast state.

The oldest monuments of pre-Roman architecture are the rotunda of the Virgin Mary on the Wawel Hill and the church of St. Salwator (10th century) and fragments of the cathedral of Bolesław I the Brave (XI century). An early example of sculptural sculpture is the figure of a weevil (in Wawel collections).

The Romanesque style is represented by: the church of St. Andrew (1086), fragments of the second cathedral (consecrated 1142) with the crypt of Saint. Leonard and the Tower of Silver Bells, as well as fragments of the church of St. Wojciech (before 1100).

Gothic architecture was initiated in the second quarter of the 13th century by the brick churches of the Franciscans, the Cistercians in Mogiła, the Dominicans, and the Florian Gate with fragments of defensive walls. The 14th century was of great significance for the architecture of the city – Gothic public buildings were built on the Market Square: Sukiennice, Town Hall, City Scale building, and fortifications were also extended. In 1320, the construction of a new cathedral began in Wawel, King Władysław Łokietek enlarged the castle, andKazimierz Wielki erected a magnificent gothic residence with a huge tower in the north-western corner.

A group of brick churches was created with common constructional and stylistic features (a three-aisled basilica with a polygonal presbytery, implemented in a pillar-buttress system): Mariacki, Corpus Christi, Saint. Catherine, Dominican. There was development of the sculpture, which became independent of architecture, the type of royal tombstone with canopy was created, wooden sculpture best represents Jadwiga’s crucifix in the cathedral (4th quarter of the 14th century), and the most valuable painting team is 120 stained glass in St. Mary’s church.

The multitude of architectural monuments in Krakow results from the long history of the city and the multitude of functions that it fulfilled as the capital of the state, a thriving urban center and a shopping center of the region, a university and cultural center.

State-forming functions
Krakow fulfilled them in the Wawel castle – first it was a Romanesque palatium, from 1038 it became the headquarters of Kazimierz the Restorer, later it was transformed into a gothic residence, then rebuilt on the order of King Sigismund I of the Old to the Renaissance. A cathedral, called the Polish Pantheon – the place of coronation and royal burials, stands next to the royal castle. There were relics and royal insignia in it. In one of the cathedral towers, the Sigismund Tower, there is the largest Polish bell, called Zygmunt – from the name of its founder, King Zygmunt I Stary. The Wawel buildings transformed into a museum are now open to visitors (royal chambers, the Cathedral Museum, the Crown Treasury, the Armory, and the Lost Wawel).

Town-forming functions
Krakow was a strong urban regional center on the communication and trade route. To take advantage of these circumstances, he had to provide residents and visitors with a commercial space, peace and a sense of security. In connection with the location in 1257 and reconstruction after the Tatar invasion, the city was marked with a flourish – one of the largest markets in Europe (200 x 200 m) surrounded by a precisely defined grid of perpendicular streets, here and there curved under the pressure of earlier buildings (eg ul. Grodzka – earlier route leading from Wawel to Hungary). Sukiennice and the town hall stood in the middle of a huge market (a tower has survived to our times)). City halls, marketplaces, city scales and location privileges also had nearby cities later absorbed by the developing Krakow: Kazimierz (located 1335), Kleparz (deposited 1366).

A prominent sign of the condition of the bourgeoisie was the splendor of the Krakow tenement houses – their richly decorated elevations can be admired around the market and at the historic streets: Floriańska, Grodzka, Bracka, Kanonicza and others. The interior of the nineteenth-century bourgeois tenement can be seen in the Hipolit House, a museum on ul. Mikołajska.

The most recent example is the architecture miastotwórczej function zoning Nowa Huta – the urban style of socialist realism created in the years 1949 – 1951, planned as an independent city.

Defensive functions
In order to provide residents with safety, Krakow was surrounded by a double belt of defensive walls with numerous towers and several gates from 1285. The dynamic development of the city, a change in the rules of martial art and the destruction of unbuilt fortifications meant that over time, subsequent parts of the walls were demolished, first the walls of Kazimierz, and finally the old Krakow – in 1810 – 14 forming a ring of urban gardens in their place – Planty. For representation purposes, a small section of the walls surrounding the Floriańska Gate and the Barbican were preserved.

In the Middle Ages, powerful brick churches also served defense functions.

The last stage of the development of the fortifications around Krakow was the ring of forts created by the Austrians – the Krakow Fortress, which is a tourist attraction of excursions to the outskirts of the city, and sometimes they are developed as eg hotels or cultural centers (Fort 49 “Krzesławice”).

Culture-forming functions
Krakow was a center of culture both as the seat of power and the beneficiary of royal patronage, as well as after the loss of independence and impoverishment of Galicia, when its role as a state-building entity and dynamics as a center of regional development declined.

From 1364, it was a university city – the Collegium Maius, Collegium Minus and Collegium Novum so far constitute the most prestigious part of the university housing the Museum of the Jagiellonian University, representative academic rooms, and sometimes lectures, although most of the scientific life is in the later, 18th and 19th centuries -ancient buildings of humanities and 20th-century faculties of natural and exact faculties, and built since 1998, the Third Campus was named the building of the 21st century [the necessary footnote ].

The city has developed art and cultural life. Particularly during the partitions, Krakow was a place of national remembrance and intense cultural activity.

The oldest theater in Krakow has been operating since the end of the 18th century and is now located in a tenement house at Szczepański Square. In 1893, the construction of the eclectic Słowacki Theater was completed on the site of the destroyed monastery and St. Spirit.

The cultivation of tradition and national memory is associated with numerous monuments and memorial plaques in Krakow, the construction or renovation of which was often a pretext for patriotic demonstrations. The most famous are the monument of Adam Mickiewicz on the Market Square, the Grunwald Monument erected in the 500th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald, a monument to Nicolaus Copernicus, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Józef Dietl and monuments adorning the Planty Park and Jordan Park.

Religious center
For many centuries, Krakow’s churches and monasteries have performed both religious and social functions – as defensive buildings, publicly accessible art objects, necropolises and places of national remembrance. The largest and best known is the Gothic St. Mary’s Church in the Market Square, while the oldest temples are: St. Andrew and the church of Saint. Wojciech. Also noteworthy are:

Renaissance chapel of Zygmuntowska, which thanks to Bartolommeo Berrecci became the largest monument of the world Renaissance north of Italy,
baroque church of Piotr and Paweł,
the Franciscan church decorated with beautiful stained glass windows designed by Stanisław Wyspiański,
Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy and many more.
Noteworthy numerous synagogues in Krakow (including the old, Isaac Jakubowicz, Heap, Remuh, Tempel, High, Popper, Deichesa) accumulated mainly in the Kazimierz which in the years 1495 – 1945 the center of Krakow’s Jewish settlements.

The necropolis that houses the graves of kings and famous Poles is the Wawel cathedral (kings, Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, urn with earth from the grave of Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Józef Poniatowski, Władysław Sikorski) and the Pauline church on Skalka (including Jan Długosz, Wincenty Pol, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, Teofil Lenartowicz, Adam Asnyk, Henryk Siemiradzki, Stanisław Wyspiański, Czesław Miłosz).

The remaining well-deserved Cracovians are buried in Kraków’s cemeteries, including Rakowicki (eg Jan Matejko), Salwatorski (Stanisław Lem), Batowicki, Nowy Żydowski and Remuh.

Source from Wikipedia