Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bell Tower and Basement of Wawel

Today I went back to Wawel hill in order to see some of the items I hadn't gotten to see the first time.  First, there were the state rooms, which unfortunately did not allow for photography.  These were the various rooms of the castle that were for governors, senators, etc.  There were several huge tapestries of various biblical scenes, principally belonging to the book of Genesis.  Although faded, they were still quite impressive.

I also got to explore the bell tower and crypts of Wawel cathedral.  The bell tower has a narrow, steep staircase leading up to it and is in no way handicap accessible.  You actually pass several bells on the way up and down (different routes, thankfully).  The largest bell is the Sigmund bell, which is pictured below, along with its statistics.

In the crypts, there were two fellows who I specifically wanted to see.  The first was Jan Sobieski III.  You can read more about him on his Wiki page, but he basically rode out with the Polish army to save Europe from a Turkish conquest by defeating them in front of Vienna.  Austria repaid this favor by taking over some of Poland roughly 90 years later.  His crypt is this one, and I think his wife is in there, too:

The second fellow I wanted to see was Tadeusz Kościuszko.  You may recall my earlier post about Kościuszko mound.  Considering this Pole is both a Polish and American hero, I thought it was important to see him.  It turns out that in 1977, the US Congress sent a plaque to Poland in order to commemorate the help Kościuszko gave to the US during the Revolutionary War.  The plaque is below, along with his crypt.

Later, I also went to a recommended English-language bookstore in Krakow, Massolit.  It was really, really nice to go to a store and everything around me, including the customer service, was in English.  I can get along with most basic transactions in Polish, but it's just reassuring to see it in your native tongue.  The grocery store, for example, is difficult for me.  Is this the same product with a different label, or is it something different?  When Laurel was here, for example, we made the mistake of buying some fermented milk because we couldn't read the label.  I like adventures, but I generally prefer my grocery stores without them.


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