Organ pipes in Saints Peter and Paul Church

May 11, 2015

The citizens of Krakow are deeply  religious and there are  about 140  churches in the city  to prove it.   I love the beauty of any place of worship and have seen many.  But in Poland I was always surprised of the number of people quietly praying  any time of the day that I happened to walk in.

Saints  Peter and Paul Church caught my eye especially because of the 12 statues ( 11 apostles ( Judas excluded) and Mary Magdalene)  lining the entrance of this baroque design built  in 1605.  Corrine and I also attended a wonderful concert here.



I found it interesting that there was such a  fancy confessional  for sinners.

Another interesting church I came  across was  Barbary Church  ( 1338) with it’s beautiful ceiling and it’s Gothic confessional. It also had a ” cemetery chapel”  on the outside of the church.  The chapel was not accessible but had statues inside depicting the Prayer in the Garden.  The statues themselves were not very recognizable, maybe due to age and the screening  around them.


4962 gothic confessional

Gothic confessional  – very fancy indeed to confess your wrong-doings


This photo is from the internet of the cemetery chapel – it sat in the shadows when I was there and I couldn’t get a decent shot.

With all of the churches in Krakow, there was a particular neighborhood where many of the clergy  lived:

use this

Lastly, the residence of Pope John Paul II   ( who was born in Poland) when he was the archbishop of Krakow.   It was told that many times he would stand at the window ( that has his photograph in it) in the evening and chat with the people below:


Thanks for reading!


WAWEL HILL in Krakow, Poland


You gotta love the royal  downspouts of the past.

May 12, 2015

Wawel  Hill is  a most  important  cathedral and castle complex in Krakow, Poland.   There has been a castle on this hill since Poland’s  recorded history, and according to legend, a fire-breathing dragon lived  in the caves under the hill  before that.  Wawel  Cathedral is the national church of Poland.  It also is  home to  the tombs of Poland’s most important rulers and historical figures, including the much loved  King Kazimierz of Poland’s 14th century.  Wawel  Hill is  the most visited sight in Poland.

It takes  effort and patience to try and decipher  the different buildings and add on’s  in this complex.  The white building  tucked in the middle is the original part of the cathedral and , over the centuries,  20 or so chapels have been added to an outcome of  many assorted  styles of architecture.  The castle  now holds several museums and one of the towers is available for climbing.

As a side note, the  Hindu concept of Chakra believes there are seven chakra points on earth where  a powerful energy field is concentrated.  In one  corner of the castle’s  courtyard is, supposedly,  one of those seven points.   The Wawel administration will not discuss the belief and has done it’s best discourage Chakra-seekers by blocking off   the point from the public.

It was a  wonderful day to  enjoy and marvel at the beauty  and complexity  of all  the buildings  hugging  each other like a Lego creation …..or maybe I was feeling the effects of the Chakra.






What a surprise to see a Hot Air Balloon  also!






Thanks for reading!

KRAKOW -The Jewish Quarter and Cemeteries


May 11, 2015

Another interesting   neighborhood in Krakow was Kazimierz . It was the home of the former Jewish community long before WWII.  At the time of WWII , 65,000 Jews lived in Krakow.  Only a few thousand survived the war and even a fewer number live in Krakow today.  Kazimierz has 2 Jewish Cemeteries.  The Old Cemetery was used for burials from 1552 to 1880. The New Cemetery opened in 1880. WWI I   started in Poland in 1939. The Nazis desecrated both cemeteries, even using gravestones as pavement in their concentration camps.  Both cemeteries were repaired in the 1950’s and the gravestones that had been shattered by the Nazis was made into a wall around the Cemetery.

Schindler’s Factory , where he worked and  where much of the movie was filmed, has now been made into a Museum . The Museum explains the war’s affects on Poland and about Schindlers story.  Photos of   many of the Jews that Schindler saved were hanging in the front of the museum. To say the museum’s contents were disturbing is an understatement.


The Old Cemetery


The mosaic wall made from shattered gravestones at the Old Cemetery.


The New Cemetery


Some  signs at the Cemeteries can bring tears to your eyes.



Schindler’s Factory with photos of some of the people he saved in the window.


Recreation of Schindler’s desk.


There were rooms and rooms of photos of  Poland during the war and of how the Jewish community was treated and tortured and murdered.  Also many photos of the war equipment used during that era.  This real tank from WWII struck  my emotions the most of the equipment.   As you can see by the man in the back of it, the tank is small and looks like a tin can.  Hard to imagine it was of much protection.

Thanks for reading!



KRAKOW, POLAND – Beautiful Architecture and Other Tidbits


Carving in a wall outside a café.

May 10, 2015

While strolling around Krakow, I found  so many  beautiful  buildings,  streets and  other wonderful delights  – here  are a few I wanted to share:












Gelato is not just for Italy any more……

Thanks for reading!

Krakow, Poland – Day Trip to Wieliczka Salt Mines


May 10, 2015

The journey begins  with 800 steps to walk down to a depth of 135 meters ( not quite a mile)  under ground…………


to see the Wieliczka Salt Mines. Most of the mine is supported by wood ( metal would rust).   It has  been producing salt since  the 11th century.  We walked the mine for 2 hours and only saw 1% we were told – only 20 of the 2000 chambers that exist.  What also was so  crazy is that in the 19th century, the miners began to make carvings, chandeliers and even chapels out of the salt. There were so many carvings, mostly religious,  that  I lost track.  Photographers did not  turn out the best but here is a sampling:


King Kazimierz  the Great – Poland’s highly  respected King  from 1333 to 1370.


Jesus, Mary and Joseph 3-D carving in the wall.


The Last Supper 3-D carving in the wall.


One of the 3 Chapels in the Mine – all made from salt.


The chandeliers were also made out of salt in the  chapels.


Chapel of St. Kings, which took  67 years to create in the early 20th century.  It is huge with carvings everywhere you look.

At the end of the tour, an elevator took 8 people at a time back up to the surface in 45 seconds.  The experience was very interesting – seeing the underground  lake,  learning how the miners and horses worked  underground and lived  their lives  hardly ever seeing daylight.  But it also taught me that I would have never made it as a miner.

God bless the men who can do this kind of work.

KRAKOW, POLAND – The Szopka or Nativity Crib


May 9, 2015

Originating in Krakow, is the Christmas tradition of making  Nativity Cribs, or Szopka,  as it is called in Polish.

Back to the 19th  century (excluding times of war) there would be and still are competitions for the creation of the best.  Anyone is welcome to compete and there are usually  between 120 – 160 entries.

Each Szopka is a  miniature recreation of  the Nativity of  Jesus using an architecture ( usually of a one of the city’s churches)  of Krakow as the backdrop.

I think they are all beautiful and just fell in love with them:





This one was on display in St. Andrew’s  church along with:







They come in all sizes and can be bought in one of the Museum Shops  and sometimes where souvenirs  can be found. Some are inexpensive and some can be  quite costly, depending on the size and the material it is made of.

Hope you enjoyed them also!  Thanks for reading !

KRAKOW, POLAND – The City Defense Walls and Towers


May 9, 2015

Krakow’s original rampart had 45 watchtowers and 8 gates. All with a moat surrounding the outside of it.  It was built  in 1241-ish.   In the 19th century  it had fallen in disrepair so most of  it was torn down.  The  moat  was then filled in, trees were planted and it was made into a park.  So now the city has a wonderful park area that surrounds the Old Town area that is 2 and 1/2 miles long for walking, biking or just sitting on a bench and enjoying nature.

Here is what remains of the towers and wall.:


This is the Barbian  Florian Gate which stood between the moat and the tower gate – as an extra  layer of defense.  My 2nd daughter Corrine Zeller is beautifying the Barbian.   Corrine lives in Germany and  I was lucky enough to have Corrine come  join me while I was  in Krakow.  We had a great time exploring the city together.



I climbed one of the three   towers and walked the bit of wall that remained. Built into the wall  was an extension where I discovered a chapel:




One side of the remaining wall is now used as an art gallery for students to sell their paintings.

Bird of the day:


In the moat-made -into-a park area I found dozens of these pretty birds. Acting like Robins,  they were pulling bugs and worms from the ground.  They are called Fieldfares, in the thrush family.


“The early bird gets the worm. The early worm gets eaten.”

(Norman Ralph Augustine)

Thanks for reading…

Next comes the Krakow  Nativity Cribs…..

KRAKOW, POLAND – The Main Market Square


May 9, 2015

Welcome to Krakow!  Beautiful, vibrant city with lots to do and things to see.  The Main Market Square,  established in the 13th century,  is  the biggest I have ever  seen.  Cloth Hall was built in 1555 and is  where cloth-sellers used to sell their goods but  is now full of souvenirs stalls.  It is clearly the focal  point of the square:


Cloth Hall

The Town Hall Tower, from the 14th century, is all that is left of the Town Hall.


Buggy Rides are abundant and picturesque.


This interesting sculpture sits in front of the Town Hall Tower.  Usually  crawling with people on top of and sticking body parts out of the eyes – I was very patient  to wait for a cleared  moment.


St. Mary’s Basilica  has stood at a corner of the Square for 800 years. There is a church tower and the other tower is the town’s watch tower. Even today there are 24 hour shifts ( fire men) and they open the window  and  play the bugle  every hour, on the hour.  It is even broadcast on the Polish radio at noon everyday. If interested you can climb the 271  steps to the top and see and hear the watchman play.  I declined the opportunity.


St. Mary’s alter has this craved Gothic alter piece  that took 12 years to complete in 1489.


The original Polish folk dress , and musicians, can always be found on the Square.  The outfit can also be purchased in some of the stores if you have the need.


Cute little carriage  adds to the flavor of the Square and sells post cards at the same time.


There is also a resident walking beer mug on the Square. One of the visitor’s guide refers to the vodka and beer in Poland as rocket fuel.


Church of St. Adelbert  pre-dates the Square and is the oldest church in Krakow.  From the 10th century, it is just a shell now but you can still go in and see the walls,  crude foundation and this guy:


Since the keeper of the church didn’t speak much English,  I could not understand who he was or why he is still in there.


The Square is also lined with gorgeous buildings like these and lots of cafes with outside  dining and people-watching.


How many McDonalds have a gothic cellar where you can dine on your Big Mac?   Not on the Square, but just a 1/2 block away, this McDonalds unearthed  a medieval cellar during renovation  and put it to use for more seating .


Stay tuned – much more of Krakow to come.

Thanks for reading!

WROCLAW, POLAND – A Peek at Some Churches


A down spout from St. John the Baptist Cathedral

May 8, 2015

Poland’s population is approximately  95% Catholic.  It remains one of the most religious country in Europe today.   So it seems every corner I turned, there stood a church. Here are 3 that stood out:

My favorite was the St. James and St. Vincent  Church from 1240.   Looks very modest on the outside but the side chapel is one the prettiest I have ever seen:


St. James and St. Vincent Church


The Nave of  the side chapel.


The ceiling frescos of that chapel.


Angel on a  ledge…

An interesting church I  also saw was the very Baroque “Most Holly Name of Jesus” from 1689.  It is now associated with Wroclaw University which was started in 1728.   Inside, the main nave and a side  chapel  was sensory overload,  in my opinion.



But the Pieta in this church is beautiful.   It is a replica of  the Vatican’s

by  Michelangelo:


Then I crossed over a  lock bridge,


onto the Ostrom Tumski Island,


to see  the gothic style St. John the Baptist Cathedral from 1244.



The side of the church shows how additional chapels are just added on through time in whatever architectural style is popular or they prefer.


First church that I have seen where “lighting a candle” has gone electric.


Also St John’s posted photos of what it looked like after WWII.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”  ( George Santayana)

I thought this last little angel  was beautiful and  shows the intense  grief of loss.  This angel sits on a memorial in  St. Elisabeth Church where many people were buried:


Many blessings to you and yours…..







May 8, 2015

Today my travels took me to Wroclaw, Poland where I spent the day exploring the Market Square and  areas near by.  Market Square was originally built in the 13th century  but most of  the buildings  today are 1950’2  reconstruction  due to the siege on Wroclaw during the WWII war.   Today  I  this Square is full of  people, activity and beautiful  colorful buildings:


Town Hall from 1290



These two buildings joined with an arch are commonly called

Hansel and Gretel .


Salt Square (the trading place for salt) which connects to the Market Square.


Any kind of restaurant you can imagine.


I found this on the way to the Market Square –  “The Passage” statues descending  into the earth. Dedicated to those who went underground on Dec. 13, 1981 when the Communist government declared martial law  to try to kill the solidarity movement.  Martial law stays in effect into 1983.


Near  by  there was also a sobering display of  dozens  of Wroclaw  photos  in 1945, after being bombed during WWII  and  how those same locations  look today.


There was also a drone flying over head in the Square – a little creepy,

Stay tuned …..more to come of Wroclaw…

Thanks for reading!



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