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Visit to Krakow

On 28 September 2010 thirty-seven ChesterDFAS members landed in Krakow and spent the next five days enjoying its history and grandeur. This is a city of magnificence!

For many years Krakow was the capital of Poland and it has the castles and churches to support this status. Our first glimpse of the huge Central Square was on the evening of our arrival. The view was wonderful! It had been raining and the lights were reflected on the white wet setts. Straddling the centre was the great Cloth Hall, originally a covered market rebuilt after a fire in 1555.

Over the next few days we were privileged to see Wawel Royal Castle with its wonderful Flemish tapestries, and almost next door we explored the historic Krakow Cathedral....  the third church building to have been built on this site as reflected in the many styles.

St Mary’s Basilica on the Square was most interesting with its two towers of different heights and its stunning blue and gold High Altar (1477 – 1489). The Church is well known for its trumpet call – every hour! Mention also of the Franciscan Church (1255) with its fabulous modern windows depicting St Francis and St Clare. designed by the great artist Stanislaw Wyspianski (c. 1900).

Thursday was exciting. We were going down a mine – a salt mine. The Wieliczka Mine has been working from the 17th Century and is a busy part of the Krakow tourist route. We descended to the first level and walked gently down into the bowels of the earth. All around us was rock salt. Salt Chapels, salt carvings, salt lakes and finally a salt cathedral with its brilliant magnificence. Quite a day!!

Other visits included an optional trip to Auschwitz Birkenau... a sombre experience! We also saw the ancient University buildings and had a tour of 20th Century Polish art. Our final day was spent in Krakow's Jewish quarter examining the ancient buildings including the Synagogues and the Jewish market.

A very successful trip: and before we left many of us celebrated with a very good glass of Sauvignon Blanc, sitting outside the Helena Rubenstein the sunshine!!

Many thanks to Mary and Chester DFAS for organising this visit.

Mary Burton