I’m sure a lot of you have been to Kraków, but did you have a chance to explore the undergrounds, Podziemia Rynku?
The market square has always been one of Kraków’s main highlights, with sights such as Mariacki church, the Ratusz (town hall), numerous restaurants with outdoor seating under umbrellas and of course, the Sukiennice (cloth hall). However, in 2005, an archaelogical dig revealed there was even more to the market square than met the eye with many items of historical significance being found just under the squares cobbles around the Sukiennice. It was then decided in 2007 to build and open a museum that would house most of the archarlogical findings, and make them available to the public.
With about 800 years of history on show, the museum tries to blend an old world and modern feel in what is presented. There are a few visual tricks, some hi-tech options and then ‘real’ items to be touched and felt. The entrance is found just at the end of the Sukiennice, and entrance is limited to a maximum of 300 people at one time. This is controlled by musuem staff and some security guards, in order to make sure that the experience can be fully savoured without too many people. The entrance fee is 14 -17zl.
The first sight on entry is a real-life smoke screen with a projector showing Krakowians from the Middle Ages welcoming you to the exhibit. Visitors can put their hands and more through it, as it is only a steam projection. Later there are some water pools showing ripples of people walking by, also using projectors. From there, the exhibits get more ‘real’ as there are paving slabs from the 14th century, rebuilt houses of blacksmiths and goldsmiths, and then some re-created graves and burial grounds, with full skeletons inside. Indeed one of the surprises is when walking around and crossing a glass walkway to see a skeleton sitting in the hollowed space under the glass walkway. The highlight come next in the centre of the space, where a scale model of Kraków from the 15th century is shown. It is very realistic, but it is also the only part of museum visible under natural light, as above it, there is the 4-sided pyramid skylight, which can be seen from above ground on the Rynek.
The second part of the musuem is more of a walking tour, with long passages ways with small nooks and crannies available with small archaelogical treasures found in most of them, including some skulls which had been found, and are estimated to be from soldiers who had died trying to defend Kraków from the Swedish ‘Flood’ in the early 17th century. There are many small artefacts such as necklaces, small knives, spears and so on which would have all been used in Kraków’s market through the ages.
If this sounds interesting, next time you are in Kraków you should definitely reserve a little time to see it!
Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)