Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Scholarly Tour

Compared to other days I've spent here in Kraków, today was kind of slow.  The highlight of the day was taking a tour at Jagiellonian University.  Founded in 1364, it is the second-oldest university in Europe.  So what was the first, you ask?  Prague University.  Jagiellonian was also the place where Nicholas Copernicus studied, starting in 1491, I believe.  (Side note: Columbus was discovering Hispaniola when Copernicus was a sophomore.) Copernicus did not study astronomy per se; he studied medicine and was a doctor by trade.

I learned many more facts about Copernicus and how historical developments changed university life over the centuries.  Professors lived prescribed lives like monks.  There was a general ed curriculum in the early days, where everyone had to learn the arts of rhetoric, grammar, arithmetic, music, astronomy, and the like, to "level the playing field" before students started their faculties of study.  Women were not allowed to attend lectures until 1897.  Sadly, many professors were sent to concentration camps during the Nazi occupation, but Jagiellonian continued holding classes "underground" and was able to thrive and return to being a venerable educational institution afterward.

 This is a copy of the book Copernicus published, proving that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

Overall, this was among the best museum tours I've ever had.  The first guide I had was extremely knowledgeable, willing to answer questions, and had great English.  Puffer did not make an appearance during the tour, but he also wanted to be held in the high esteem of medieval scholars.

One more thing about the University: although it has many fascinating clocks, this one is the highlight:

Tonight, we had a lovely dinner at the Miód Milana (Honey Raspberry).  I'm going to miss being able to do outings like these when I leave.


ReadingMama said...

"That clock looks pretty good. I want to do it again!" said Alaina.

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