Posts Tagged With: Mona lisa

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.

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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

If in Love, every city is PARIS!

While writing this post, I am not sure if I am writing about Love or Paris. Both have become tantamount.

I browsed and read quite a lot of articles and blogs on Web, on why Paris is called City of Love, I felt every writer had his or her own view on attaching ‘Love’ with this city. A women’s magazine attributes it to being the fashion capital, some say it’s the Seine walks, some say its because of ‘French’ being a lovely language; from Architecture to its streets, to the food and to the unperturbed kissing couples, ‘Paris’ is officially crowned as World’s Love Capital.

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The iconic Eiffel Tower on a cloudy evening. Lovely colors as the sun envelops behind the clouds.

There is so much to love in the river town of Paris. World famous monuments, cabarets, idyllic streets, beautiful people, French food, the highly acclaimed French wine, the fashion which rules the global ramps, and much more.

Maybe I was one of those cynical ‘Not in Love’ who visited Paris and found it hard to relate it to being the Love destination. However if I wear my traveler’s hat, I cannot agree enough, if you are in Paris, you are bound to fall in love with it. My list of the places I found to be really romantic and beautiful.

  1. Cathedrale Notre Dame De Paris

Yes, I am a big lover of Cathedrals. Sounds funny to place a religious monument in a romantic post, but this was always on my bucket list, surprisingly not Eiffel Tower.

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Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

The magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris is more than 800 years old and has stood the test of times of religious and political revolutions. I was spellbound on its detailed and beautiful towers, Kings Gallery and the marvellously sculpted exteriors.

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Towers of Notre Dame Cathedral

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The Kings Gallery at entrance on The Towers of the Cathedral.

The intricate stained glass windows inside and the detailed interiors continue the spell of awe on you. Perched on the banks of River Seine, to me the whole persona of the Cathedral was outright romantic and I could really spend hours gazing at it from every possible corner.

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Nestled between thick canopy of trees, a very romantic view of one of the loveliest monuments of Paris, Notre Dame

  1. Louvre

Who hasn’t heard of Mona Lisa? And if you know her, you know Louvre. World’s most visited museum.

I did not get a chance to enter the Museum as I was past the time of entry, however I did spend a good one hour in the evening at the grounds and was aghast at its mammoth spread. Louvre was a Palace until Louis XIV found it a little too small to stay in and moved to Versailles. Since then this became a place to exhibit the Royal collections and what we see today, the Museum.

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An evening view of one of the sides of Louvre. Probably a high end camera would have done justice to get a panoramic view of the giant edifice.

The grounds do not disappoint you at all. The glassy Pyramide du Louvre is a treat to eyes. A modern architecture marvel, a glass pyramid created as an entry to the Museum. While I felt it looked a little out of place in the backdrop of the 12th century colossal structure, it is still a magnificent creation which will go down in the books of history, to be a vintage gargantuan glass pyramid.

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The giant Pyramid illuminated was a delight for visitors. There were probably more visitors to view the Pyramid than the exhibits inside the Museum.

  1. Love Locks

No you read it wrong. I said ‘Love Locks’ and not ‘Lip Locks’ 🙂

While the latter is quite omnipresent, Parisians have found out a way to seal their Love forever. The Bridges in Paris are a testimony to many ‘padlocked love’. Write your and your lover’s name on the locks, tie them to the bridge, and toss the key into Seine. Yes it is foolishly romantic and I loved it.

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Locks on Pont des Arts on River Seine.

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The romantic feel of the padlocked bridges is enhanced quite a deal by these musicians who churn out melodies of love as the sun sets.

  1. ‘Literary’ Parisian Streets

France like its close English neighbour, England, is also known for its Literary giants and their famed works. On top of my mind is Alexander Dumas whose books I have read in school. Victor Hugo with his work ‘Les Miserables’ is another icon. These lovely fabled streets of Paris lined with vintage books, miniature paintings, posters of famous artists would be the most adorable thing to me about Paris.

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The beautiful streets of Paris lined with books, leaflets, tabloids and posters.

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The humbled streets glamorized with Marilyn Monroe. Check out the books on the top of the wall.

  1. Moulin Rouge

The world famous and much talked about like Eifel Tower, is ‘Moulin Rouge’, a cabaret house since 1889. Yes we all remember Nicole Kidman with the mention of Moulin Rouge, the film which once again immortalised the birthplace of Can-Can dance. I was told that this cabaret house still retains its vintage Bohemian French décor and furniture. The Red windmill and psychedelic lights on it, makes Moulin Rouge the most flamboyant Parisian site and I simply loved it. I highly recommend every traveler to Paris not to miss visiting this iconic place or simply enjoy its colourful halo at night on the streets.

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The glittering Moulin Rouge Cabaret . Clicked this photo from a traffic signal right in the middle of the road just opposite to it.

  1. Seine

My last pick for Love of Paris, and the Best, the beautiful river Seine. I feel that Paris is so attractive owing to Seine cutting across the heart of this river town adding every bit of that glistening glamour all times of the day.

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Seine at mid day. Clicked from Pont des Arts

Studded with world Heritage Monuments on its banks like Notre Dame, Eifel Tower, Louvre, Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde, historical bridges and many more, a cruise on Seine is like sitting inside a Kaleidoscope

At the fall of dusk, Seine, bejewelled with historical sites, dazzles making it my most loved site of Paris. If I want to come back any day here with my Lover, I would spend my days and evenings soaking in love on the banks of Seine.

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A cruise across Seine crossing under the bridge at night.

The dazzling Seine with its illuminated jewels at Night.

I have made a promise to myself, to come back to this city when I am in Love, with my Lover. I would love to see if the love takes over the city or vice versa. Phew! This is a tongue twisting thought. However Paris is today a symbol of Love and the chosen destination of Lovers!

Whatever said and done, I would say that Love is an exhilarating feeling. If you are in Love, you feel on top of the world, in clouds, maybe in Space also. It doesn’t matter where you are, It’s that feeling which turns the murkiest of places around you, an utopian garden of love.

Love makes life beautiful. So of course, when in Love, every city is Paris!

Categories: france, historical france, love, travel, travel blog, visit france, visit paris, weekend trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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