catherdals of poland

Little Secret; Big Surprise : Gdansk, Poland

Poland was never on my list of ‘To be visited countries’, however my work gave me this glorious opportunity quite a few times, and what more can I say now, I love this country more than any other in Europe.

If you are not able to pronounce ‘Gdansk‘, its acceptable, neither was I. G-dansk or Danzig in German is a small port city on the Baltic sea-coast. Along with its picturesque neighboring cities Gydnia and Sopot, they form the famous ‘Tri-City‘ which is the next most upcoming hot spot for multinational organisations. With its modern infrastructure and lots of skilled workforce, we too went there as part of a project for my organisation.

I stayed here for two days. As part of my work I attended a job fair at Gdansk University, meeting a whole lot of professionals from other organisations and a bright young generation of students who on an average speak 2-4 languages. Our morning started with a quick visit to the beach. The questions in my head ‘Whats there in Gdansk’ were answered as I was stunned by the beauty of its coastline.

The Beaches!

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Gdansk Beach early morning

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And a pic in the evening as the sun goes down

The city comes alive during summers when it starts buzzing with tourists. A much cheaper and affordable beach holiday destination compared to its neighbours. My visit was during March which was pretty cold.

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Gearing up for the oncoming Summers. A beach shack under renovation.

Old Town

Like any other European City, the nucleus of the City is the Old Town which is a legacy of the heritage of the country. Gdansk old town is quaint and picturesque lined with old rustic buildings, churches and narrow cobbled streets. Couple of hours is good enough for a tour. And i would insist as always, to reserve your time for enjoying and clicking after dark.

Gdansk old Town is in the Tentative List to enter the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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Old Town, Gdansk

Town Hall

The towering spire of the Town Hall is visible from quite a distance. Gleaming in the setting sun. this clock tower was re-built after it was ruined in the World War II. I didn’t get a chance to visit inside, however I have read about its ornamental painted ceiling and other spectacular exhibits.

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The Main Town Hall

St Mary’s Church

You would be surprised to know this; St Mary’s Church, in this small city is the largest brick church in the world. The church is massive and certainly an architectural marvel. Located in a congested area, I couldn’t find any spot from where i could click a full photo of the church.

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St Marys Church

The Church has modest interiors at the first look, however a walk around would unearth a beautiful ornate organ…

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View of the organ

….And many rare Gothic and Baroque paintings in the Church as well.

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A painting and exhibits on one of the walls of the Church

The Green Gate

Paraded by the Polish Kings, the Royal Route is an architectural delight, starting from the Upland Gate to the Golden Gate thru the Long road which is lined with beautiful monuments and ends at the Green Gate.

Green Gate has now become a tourist spot, famous for its four arches. It houses a museum too. If you are in the center of the Old Town you cannot miss it.

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The Green Gate

Streets of Gdansk Old Town

Gdansk is a small town out of a Russian Fairy tale. It has lovely streets that you can incessantly admire and photograph.
Small town with colorful buildings and of course the old world charm.

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One of the streets in Old Town of Gdansk

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Another beautiful street at nightfall

River Motlawa

Gdansk perches on River Motlawa. Lined with old houses, few modern buildings and eateries, it does give it a little dreamy Parisian feel. One of my favorite views of the sketchy buildings on the banks of the river.

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On the banks of River Motlawa

Food

A seaside place has the advantage of treating you with fresh catch. Gdansk like other Polish cities was a delight for food specially meat lovers. We ate at a small restaurant called Big Apple. There is McDonalds, Istanbul Kebab shops and many other fast food joints as well if you want to go with the usual.

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Wild Rice with salad, fried meat liver, fish in a white colored curry and boiled vegetables

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That a giant salmon fillet with carrots in a white curry, tomato flavoured rice, fried meat livers and carrot juice..

Ulica Mariacka

More popularly known among the tourists as St Mary’s Street. Words would be less to describe the enigma of this street which is truly timeless. This is an old secluded street which has attracted lovers and artists for last many years.
Flanked by eateries and museums which are really as small as your washroom, this street was re-constructed after the World War II. A Must click at nightfall. My favourite recommended Must See Destination for All.

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Ulica Mariacka, From St Mary’s Church to Motlawa River

Note for Travelers

How to reach Gdansk – Fly to Gdansk from Warsaw or other European destinations. It has a full fledged airport. You can reach here by train as well from major destinations like Warsaw or Berlin. I traveled from Warsaw to Gdansk by Train and it costed 150 PLN and was about 3 hours.

Where to Stay in Gdansk – Many hotels are there in the city. You could book something a little closer to the beach if you are camping here in summers. I stayed in Golden Beach Resort which was 10 minutes walking distance from the Gdansk Beach.

– Language spoken is Polish, a fair understanding of English is selective. The currency used is Polish Zloty.

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Categories: baltic sea coast, basilica, cathedral, cathedrals of europe, catherdals of poland, church, gdansk, must visit in gdansk, old town, places to see in gdansk, poland, streets, travel europe, travel gdansk, travel poland, visit gdansk, visit poland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wavel Castle, Krakow – Walking in the footsteps of Polish Kings

A hot sunny afternoon today and I have been dreaming since last night about being one of the Polish queens walking the Royal route alongside my King in the timeless streets of Krakow. Well sounds preposterous and very bloggish to write some invented crap like this. To be honest I do take my historical travels seriously. Okay!! After these possibly ‘LOL’ statements, I need to really say that I couldn’t help writing this tripping specifically on Wavel Castle; it was indeed one of the most impressive fortress I have visited till date in Europe.

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First sight of Wavel Castle

The mighty Wavel Castle situated on Wavel Hill in Krakow is built in Gothic style. Cited in many records are evidences of earliest settlement on Wavel Hill in Paleolithic age, hence human establishments and trade grew around it. For many centuries this was the royal residence of the Polish Kings. Today this is a symbol of Polish Heritage and a reflection of its rich culture.

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The edifice of the Wavel Castle from mthe riverside

Me and my friend just had an hour in between work which was our lunch break; we decided to munch something on the way as we both wanted to tour the castle. Staying close by was a boon; we grabbed a ‘zapiekanka’ each and walked up the gentle climb to the castle entrance.

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Entrance to the castle. Rather this is the view while we exit.

The giant doors admit everyone in and you can tour the grounds and get great views of River Vistula and a part of Krakow without any entry charges.

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One such view from the grounds of the Castle

As we walked to the main square inside the castle compound, I was suddenly taken aback by the beautiful architecture of the buildings inside, the multiple domes, sculptures, the whole ambience glistening in the sun looked quite a fascinating sight..

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The inside view of the Castle Compound

The Castle compound houses the Wavel Cathedral, Museums, Royal Crypts, State Rooms and Royal Private Apartments, Sigismund Bell. You can take anywhere from an hour to maybe a day to take a tour of the Castle. With the crunch of time we had, we decided to tour the major and most talked about corners of the Castle and the first one being the Wavel Catherdral

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Wavel Cathedral and the domes of the Royal Crypts. The golden dome undoubtedly stands out.

The interior of the Cathedral was stunningly jaw dropping. Its rich golden gilded pillars and altar, silver statues and exuberant tapestries, all spelled luxury and wealth of the Polish Kings. This is supposed to be the third Cathedral as the previous two were destroyed. There are more than 15 chapels inside the Cathedral which are all ostentatiously decorated. Photography is not permitted inside. This is definitely a must visit monument in Krakow.

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The front of The Wavel Cathedral

From the Cathedral, there is an alley leading to the inside of the Castle. The beautiful creamy Castle Courtyard is flanked by stately rooms. There is also an exhibition in one of the ground floor rooms which houses the world famous painting ‘Lady with an ermine’ by Leonardo da Vinci; one of the three of of his oil paintings in the world and a close cousin of Mona Lisa in ‘being mysterious’.

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The Castle Courtyard

Next me and my pal made our way up through a dark cellar with rustic narrow wooden steps to view the Sigismund Bell. The Bell is up at the top of the Tower and its quite a gruesome climb up but an interesting one. While you climb up the dark woody staircase you will cross few huge iron bells as well.

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Bells on the climb to the Bell Tower

Finally after all the sweat and strained knees, we reach the belfry of the tower. Hanging from the wooden ceiling is this giant intimidating bronze monster, Sigismund Bell, supposedly weighing 13 tonnes. This bell rings till date on national days and important festivals and the gong is heard as far as 50 kms. A true testimony of Polish heritage.

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The Sigismund Bell

It was truly rewarding to have walked the path of the Polish Kings all the way from the Wavel Cathedral to the Stately Apartments and Courtyard and then shed some sweat on our ascent to the Bell Tower. Before we take a flight down the steps to the Castle grounds, captured some lovely views of Krahow City from behind the ‘bars’ at the Belfry.

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The chariming city of Krakow as seen from the Sigismund Bell Tower at Wavel Castle

*Note to Travelers*

– Tickets to the Wavel Castle can be purchased from the Wavel Castle Office.

– The entry to the Castle Apartments, Bell Tower, Royal Crypts, Exhibition is all through the Wavel cathedral which shall be your entry point to explore all the spots.

Categories: castle, castles of europe, cathedral, cathedrals of europe, catherdals of poland, churches of poland, travel europe, travel krakow, travel poland, visit krakow, visit poland, wavel castle, wavel cathedral | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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