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Market Square - Igor Mitoray's Giant Head sculpture

Igor Mitoray (b.1944) is a Polish-German sculptor who studied painting at the Krakow Academy of Art. He is best known for monumental, classically-derived anatomical pieces (often giant heads), many of which have been scattered across European cities and beyond as public art. He works in teracotta, bronze and marble. It is he who is responsible for the giant head to be seen on the Market Square near the old Town Hall (Ratusz) tower, which has been in place now since 2003 (making it almost as established a feature of the contemporary scene as the Sukiennice renovations).

Opinions on this one are mixed – or they certainly were upon its installation. Was it a piece of ugly trash or a postmodern reminder of the classical roots of European civilisation? This is a tricky question to answer, but one thing is for sure: what it is now is a space into which children and the young at heart can clamber, play, shout and pretend to be one of the giant’s eyeballs, as they do every day, all day long. Since it is interesting to look at but can also be touched and used joyfully as well as seen, it appears to be performing an important function as a work of living public art and so we are now faced with another, perhaps more important question: what would the square be like without it?

Other attractions nearby

The Kosciuszko Mound

This dramatic spot, with its commanding view of the city, is a great symbol of Polish patriotism as it is dedicated to Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817), a hero of the Polish (and, indeed American) struggle for independence. It was raised constructed between 1820-23, inspired by the much older Krak and Wanda mounds. Its construction was itself a great patriotic endeavour, including the transportation of earth from battlefields on which the general himself had fought.

The Krzysztofory Palace

At 35 Market Square, on the corner with Szczepanska Street, we find the Krzysztofory Palace – the 17th century result of a merging of Gothic tenement buildings. This important site is a repository of Krakowian history, art and legend; from the Fontan room (named after the ubiquitous Baltazar Fontana , some of whose sclagiola - or imitation marble - work can be seen on the first floor)

Kazimierz

Originally founded in 1355 as a separate town with it’s own defences and town hall, Kazimierz was originally Krakow’s competitor. This sense of separateness was heightened in the 15th century, when Krakow’s Jewish population was moved here by King Jan Olbracht.

Market Square - Igor Mitoray's Giant Head sculpture

Igor Mitoray (b.1944) is a Polish-German sculptor who studied painting at the Krakow Academy of Art. He is best known for monumental, classically-derived anatomical pieces (often giant heads), many of which have been scattered across European cities and beyond as public art. He works in teracotta, bronze and marble.

Krakow mounds

Dramatic mounds - or manmade hills – are a Krakowian speciality, and one of the things that gives the city its particular visual identity and atmosphere. The local liking of these is prehistoric in origin though are now four main examples. The Krakus Mound to the north and the Wanda Mound to the south commemorate legendary figures of the eighth century.

The Krakus Mound

Over in Podgorze you’ll find the Krakus Mound, in which according to legend the bones of Prince Krak or Krakus, legendary founder of Krakow, are interred. It was constructed in the eighth century, not long after Krak or Krakus had taken out the dragon who’d been bothering the populace.

Fountains and water features

The dearth of watery attractions in the centre of this often arid city (at least in the summertime, and we will not mention the recent floods by the Vistula) is finally being addressed. The conversion of two of the Old Town’s formerly neglected central spaces (Maly Rynek and Plac Sczepanski) into quiet oases in the last couple of years has seen water brought a little more into the heart of things.

Podgorze

Just acrross the river from Kazimierz lies the Podgorze district, another formerly separate town with a distinctive atmosphere now incorporated into the big city. There’s plenty to see here, and a lot of history, so it’s well worth a visit. It’s now getting the full galloping gentrification and regeneration treatment, being just over the bridge from Kazimierz, so its worth seeing now, before those processes play themselves out.

Nowa Huta

Nowa Huta (‘New Steelworks’), about 10km from the centre of town, was planned as a purpose-built industrial suburb on confiscated church land. In this sense it was an attempt, started in 1949, to create a Renaissance-inspired, communist version of the ideal city, which would also have the benefit of parachuting an atheistic working class into the heart of historic, bourgeois Poland.

Piotr Skarga and his statues

The Place of St Mary Magdelene (plac sw. Marii Magdaleny), situated cosily between Kanonicza and Grodzka by the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. is a good place to rest up and take stock of things if you are circulating in the area – as you are likely to be at some stage. Here there are benches, a bizarre miniature water feature and a statue. It is the latter which has made this recently renovated little plaza, pleasant as it is, a site of cultural conflict and controversy.

The Pilsudski Mound

The great Marshal Jozef Pilsudski (1867-1935), who led Poland to its longed for independence after WWI, is commemorated here, along with those who lost their lives in the long struggle for Polish freedom between 1772 and 1918. The mound was raised, between 1934-36, for the most part by Krakowians themselves, as had been the case with the earlier Kosciuszko memorial.

The Grey House, called Kamienica Szara in Polish

This house, which has to be one of the most beautiful and distinguished in Krakow, originated in the 13th century and features Gothic vaults, Renaissance ceilings and a large Baroque portal in its façade, this latter a legacy of a 17th century remodel. It is the oldest burgher house in the city and has had some very famous residents throughout its long history, including the first of the elected Polish kings, Henry de Valois.

Town Hall Tower

A centrepiece of the Market Square, this is all that survives from the old Town Hall, most of which fell victim to modernization frenzy in 1820. The tower itself originated in the 1380s and was raised higher in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Its characteristic Baroque helm dates from the seventeenth century.

Collegium Maius

This quiet little spot is one of the jewels of Krakow, whether or not you’re an architecture buff is not to be missed. Built in 1492-7, this is one of the best preserved medieval university buildings in the whole of Europe and in its day a lively centre of Renaissance culture, with Copernicus himself being among its alumni. The exquisite, balconied courtyard has a cloister with star vaulting and carved columns and in the centre there is a Baroque well-head decorated with the arms of Poland, Krakow, Queen Jadwiga and King Wladyslaw Jagiello.

The ''New Sukiennice'' project

Nobody needs telling by now that the cloth hall (Sukiennice) in the heart of the Market Square is an architectural and cultural beauty beyond prize. It was decided some years ago, however, that the history and beauty of the thing were not matched by its state of repair or technical facilities. And so, with help from the Norway Fund and the ‘financial mechanism’ of the EEA (European Economic Area) was born ‘project new Sukiennice’.

St. Florian's Gate & St. Florian

One of the most important architectural landmarks in the Old Town, and one of the most important Gothic towers anywhere in the country, St. Florian’s gate was once joined by a bridge to the Barbican as part of Krakow’s medieval fortification system. The original gate was built in stone before 1307, heightened in brick in the 15th century and acquired its Baroque roof around 1660 (estimates of the date vary).

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Welcome to KrakowHomes - family enterprise set up with an intention of bringing new quality to the short term rental business. After many years of our presence in the market we can proudly say that we succeeded in creating our homes away from homes. Our intention has always been to combine professionalism but not at the expanse of home like atmosphere and we believe we made it. The choice of holiday rentals in Krakow is extensive. What makes us special is that our furnished apartments have been visited and recommended by BBC Good Homes magazine and National Geographic magazine. When saying luxurious we do refer to truly luxurious apartments which are located in or near Krakow Old Town and can be compared with elite Krakow hotels or with amazing boutique hotels only. Why? Because apart from amazing decor and comfort they offer such things as fountains, saunas, floor embedded Jacuzzi or Zen garden under glass floor. Our luxurious old town rentals in Krakow are just a part of coherent overall approach to serve the needs of most demanding travelers. We do not limit our service to providing accommodation but also select our tour operators diligently. As a result our trips & tours are provided by those who do it with passion. No wonder, the official Tour Guide of KrakowHomes is a person who became the official tour guide of Prince Charles while in Krakow. This all is designed to make your Krakow vacation a memorable event. Rent apartment in Krakow to enjoy your Krakow holiday.

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