Salzberg of Success – Bochnia

Listen here to the podcast: Salzberg of Success – Bochnia

You have probably heard about an iceberg of success where the entire invisible hard work is under the water’s surfece and the only visible part, the actual success, is merely the tip of the mountain.

Source: internet

This is the story of Bochnia.

Bochnia is a city that, like Rome or Lisbon, is situated on seven hills. It is the oldest city of Małopolska – Lesser Poland region and one of the oldest in Poland. Situated on the river Raba, embracing the city from the north, it is only a stone’s throw away from the highest of Polish mountains in the Zakopane region, on the border with Slovakia.

The first written surviving mention of the settlement under the name Bochnia (“Bochegna”) comes from 1198, in which Patriarch of Jerusalem, Monachus confirmed the granting of salt from this place by the knight named Mikor Gryfit, to the monastery of the Order of Bożogrobców from Miechów.

Copy of the document in which Bochnia is mentioned for the first time, Source: internet

Of course, the salt mentioned here refers to the evaporated salt, obtained in Bochnia from salty springs known already in the Neolithic. It is believed that the Polish name of Bochnia derives from the Slavic word “bohy” which stands for swamps, wetlands. The reason behind it may be that the first brines and brewhouses were located in such areas around the Babica river – a second river that flows through the town’s centre.

The city was located along the very important trading routes. Given this and the ability to produce such an important back in the days product like salt, commonly used around the world as a preservative of all types of foods imaginable, it would most likely always thrive. However, discovery of rock salt in 1248, changed its history forever.

The legend has it that Little Bolesław, later known as Shy, a future king of Poland, who sadly lost his royal father very early in his life, often visited the Kingdom of Hungary. He would play with a few years younger than him Princess Kinga there and together they would enjoy lovely, salty in taste pancakes.

He could not understand why they did not have such lovely pancakes back at home, in Poland. His Russian mother, Grzymisława, explained it to him that sadly there was no rock salt in Poland and the amounts of salt avilable were only sufficient for more important matters.

Little future king could not stop dreaming about it. He wished for nothing more than to one day feed his people with such lovely pancakes.

When the two kids grew up, then, the Duke of Kraków-Sandomierz, Bolesław the Chaste or Shy himself, asked for the hand of the Hungarian princess Kinga. They moved over to Kraków and resided at the Wawel Castle.

Prior to their wedding however, Kinga asked her father, King Bela IV, not to present her with valueables as they are filled with human tears and sweat, nor the servants, as this was a sign of pride. She wished for the gift of salt, but not for herself. She wanted it for her people.

One autumn King Bela IV invited the young couple for a visit. Sadly Bolesław was unable to come but Kinga was very excited to see her family again. Along the way, she devoted plenty of time to prayers in the many roadside chapels.

Once arrived and unpacked, young Princess asked her father for a ride around the kingdom, particularily wished to see the salt mines though. They rode over to the richest of mines of Transylvania in Maramureş (then Hungary, today Romania), which she remembered well from her childhood times.

Standing there and playing with the rocks of salt, she turned sad and thought how this mineral could change the lives of the people in her new coutry. Her father noticed her sadness and knew that he could do no better but to present this mine to her.

At that moment Kunegunda (Kinga) approached the salt shaft, removed precious engagement ring from her finger and threw it directly into the shaft. The ring disappeared in the depths of the abyss. Unusual light however appeared in that darkness.

When returning to Kraków, she took experienced Hungarian miners with her. Once more, she did not miss any of the chapels along the way, making sure to leave a crystal of salt from the Maramureş mines in each of them. She remained so absorbed by her prayers that did not say a word out loud the entire way.

Upon arrival, she confessed to Bolesław that she sacrificed her engagemet ring for some greater riches. She then asked him to accompany her on a little horse ride. They arrived at a beautiful rural area where the people were particularily kind.

They were in Bochnia. Bolesław explained that this area abounded in salt springs called brines and it was from there that the local population obtained brewed salt by evaporating the water. Sadly, recently no salt could be obtained from these springs despite of deepening of the brine wells.

The Duchess of Kraków did not look worried. On the contrary, her eyes started to glow and when she saw a beautiful garden, with the permission of its owner, the shoemaker, she asked that a well be dug in this spot.

Once the shovels reached hard rock, the men thought it was a stone and that nothing else could be found there. One of the miners however noticed that this was salt. And he passed a piece of the rock to the Duchess.

In that lump of salt was a ring. The same precious ring that Kinga threw inside the salt shaft of a mine presented to her by her father.

Yesterday, the 15 March 2022, Bochnia welcomed a wonderful 3.2 tonne, new statue by Czesław Dźwigaj, depicting the Legend of the Ring of Saint Kinga. It is situated in front of the Sutoris shaft, which is one of the first shafts and some believe the very one where the ring had been found:

Source: Tomasz Stodolny

And only last July, Chloè and I were sitting there on this little square eating the best doughnuts this world has ever made, surrounded by masses of pigeons, and thinking how empty that place was and how it could do with, for example, a nice statue…. 🙂

The more realistic version of the story is that perhaps the discovery of the rock salt happened by accident, as a result of excessive deepening of brine wells by Wierzbięt Gryfit – the owner of the area at the time.

Either way, at first it was not easy to launch mining here, both from technical and financial perspective. This was done in 1251 when Cistercians from Wąchock were brought to Bochnia to manage the construction of the first shaft in order to enable large-scale extraction of rock salt.

Seeing the profits coming from the mines, Bolesław the Shy or Chaste, on the 27 February 1253 in Korczyn, decided to allocate numerous privilages to the settlement. A city was located on the Magdeburg Law, which was back in the day one of the styles in which cities were being designed. Kinda like a stencil which could be used to arrange the streets, create the net of the main city functions and positions, etc. – with the name of Salzberg – The Salt Mountain – Bochnia. Both names are mentioned in the foundation act as many of the newcoming settlers were from the region of Silesia, a historically mixed region, rich in coal mainly and endlessly fought for by Polish and Prussians.

The mine was a magnet for anyone who could make money out of salt, crafts and trades related to its mining. There was even maintenance paid to the inhabitants of the area. The first guild was created in 1316. In the years of the greatest splendor of the city there were 13 of them.

No other city in Poland would have been granted privilages similar to the ones Bochnia received. Kraków itself was not yet even a city for another four years to come and the neighboring Wieliczka, which now is probably the most famous of the Polish salt mines, was only a tiny village, dreaming about the discovery of salt in there.

The Salt Mine in Bochnia is the oldest salt mine in Poland.

Situated on trade routes from Western Europe to Ruthenia and Asia Minor as well as from Hungary to the Baltic Sea, Bochnia was included in international trade, becoming an important transit center.

The period of splendor of the city is the time of the reign of King Casimir the Great. This great ruler reorganized the saltworks by giving it the Mining Ordinance and expanding the saltworks castle, in which he visited many times together with his court. On his initiative, the first in Poland hospital-shelter for sick miners was established in 1357. The town, which at that time had about 3,000 inhabitants, was surrounded by defensive walls (in some parts by ramparts), and city councilors were in office in the stately, gothic town hall on the market square.

On May 29, 1871, a ceremony of unveiling of the statue of the king holding the Wiślica statutes, took place. Over two meters high, carved in pińczów limestone by a well-known sculptor Walery Gadomski, the form of the great king was placed on a neo-gothic column, on the pedestal of which – stone bas-reliefs depicting the granting of the Wiślica statutes, the foundation of the Kraków Academy, the Polish emblem and the inscription; “To the King of Peasants, their benefactor, Guardian of Cities Casimir the Great, Bochnia 1871”.

King Casimir the Great – Kazimierz Wielki

Jan Matejko himself, one of the greatest of Polish painters, was present at this ceremony. It was under his very suggestion that his brother-in-law – the then marshal of the county Leonard Serafiński made a plan to commemorate the great king.

Bochnia was so thriving between 14th and 16th centuries that already back then it had a municipal water supply. The wealth of the city also brought culture and developement. A number of Polish kings, including: Kazimierz Wielki, Władysław Jagiełło, Kazimierz Jagiellończyk, Zygmunt Stary with Bona and their son August, as well as king Stefan Batory visited here. During Middle Ages and Renaissance, numerous artists including painters, writers or goldsmiths were being employed either by the city or in the nearby castle at Nowy Wiśnicz, which I mention in my other blog post, see here:

Various and rich book collections and a parish school operating since the end of the fourteenth century, associated with the Kraków Academy, currently Jagiellonian University, were a proof of high educational level of the townspeople of Bochnia.

Unfortunately, all these testimonies of the splendor of Bochnia and the wealth of its citizens have not survived to our times. The seventeenth century was for Bochnia a series of constant misfortunes: epidemics, marches of troops, arson, robberies.

In the mid-seventeenth century, during Swedish wars, the town fortifications, the parish church, and the town hall were ruined. Swedish army stayed in Bochnia, plundering it completely. The devastation was continued by the Transylvanian troops of Franciszek Rakoczi, and later the Cossacks. As a result of all that, in 1664 only 54 houses survived in the city.

The initial decline of Bochnia’s splendor turned into its eventual fall. Its development was shaken by further fires, but the most devastating of all was the regression of Żupa – as we call the rock salt there, which occurred as a result of negligence in the exploitation of the deposits and the thefts done by the mine’s administrators.

Source:, Karol Fleckhammer, Bochnia. A fragment of a cross-section of the first level of the mine, 1777

In February 1772, Russian troops occupied Bochnia and in June of that year, as a result of the First Partition (there were 2 more), Poland was torn between Russia, Germany and Austria and disappeared completely from the maps of Europe till 1918. Austrians, or Habsburgs if you prefer, took control over southern Poland. This region was known then as Galicia.

After multiple rebellions, the Bochnians finally started to see the revival of their town in the early 19th century.

A gymnasium founded in 1817 contributed to the intellectual revival of Bochnia. Later, the bishopric of Tyniec and the seminary had their temporary seat in the city. At the end of the nineteenth century, the railway line Vienna – Kraków– Dębica, running through Bochnia, has been lounched in 1856.

During this period, new houses were built, shaping representative streets. In 1908, one of the most modern municipal waterworks in Galicia was established and in later years the city was canalized. The salt mine was modernized too, but the rapid development of competitive East Galician salts meant that it never regained its former importance.

Bochnia at the turn of the century flourished in terms of cultural life. In 1886, the first public library was established. In 1913, the first permanent cinema was opened.

Bochnia city itself as well as its surroundings witnessed the fighting between Austrian and Russian troops during WWI. The Russian army ingloriously inscribed itself in the history of the city with numerous plunders and bloody murders.

In December 1939, one of the first Nazi executions in Poland took place in Bochnia, where the occupant applied the principle of collective responsibility. An attack of the resistance on the German police station ended up with the two leaders being hung up on the lantern poles in front of the building for 4 days afterwards and 52 others shot in a group masacre.

Round-ups, deportations to concentration camps and deportations to forced labor in Germany were an everyday occurence to anyone there, no matter the roots, including members of my family. Speaking of, the City Archives have a fascinating collection of the names of Bochnia citizens. I remember spending hours once going through them and could not believe the variety of the Bochnia people origins.

The Jews were many in Bochnia and those who believed they managed to survive the worst, ended their existance in the bloody liquidation of the Jewish ghetto in 1943. There is a well preserved and protected Jewish cemetery, a visit to which can be pre-arranged via Bochnia Museum office. Sadly, it must remain locked as it was desecrated and devastated by the Germans, who destroyed or took away many tombstones. This cemetery was a place of numerous executions of Jews and the burial place of murdered both in the ghetto and outside of it.

There is a guide of this place written by Ms Iwona Zawicka.

Source: internet

Over the last few decades, Bochnia has increased its area and population and currently covers about 30 square kilometers and has about 30,000 inhabitants. It is the seat of the authorities of the Bochnia Poviat and is a part of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.

Today, when visiting the mine, you sign yourself up for a real treat. Approximately 2.5 – 3 hours walk, between 60 and 212 metres under the ground 🙂

Source:, One of the many plans of underground workings of the Bochnia mine in the collection of the Museum in Bochnia

Tourists start their descent via lift at the Campi Shaft which dates back to the 16th century and is the most remote of all Bochnia shafts. It took 12 years to dig through the hidden layers of wet soil to find rich rock salt deposits here. Initially it was named Fajgel, from the name of the shaft builder but later on, due to its remote location on the outskirts of town, it took the current name Campi from the latin campus – field.

There is a restaurant here and a little souvenir shop where you can choose between some true art pieces made of salt, including salt lamps and salt sculptures.

It is also in this area where you can visit the Settlement of the Seven Ploughmen, a scansen that brings to live the times of early settlements in the region.

There is one major rule when visiting the mine – you walk with a group and follow your guide.

The tour starts with a short train ride along the old tracks and it ends in the Chapel of St. Kinga where many o’masses take place, even Christmas Eve mass at midnight called Pasterka, and where absolutely everything is made, out of salt or wood. You can get married here or babtise your baby if you wish.

Miners were very religious people. The type of danger which could have been encountered only in the mine, led to the creation of a special type of religiosity here. When walking around, you can see pictures of saints in little niches and religious engravings on some walls.

Chapels were being established on the main communication routes, of which there were many. The chapel of St. Kinga is the largest and best preserved of all chapels in the Bochnia mine. Until 1782, named the New Chapel of Guardian Angels, it was a small niche measuring 1.65 m by 1.65 m, hollowed out in 1747 in the northern longitudinal bay of Augustus Shaft at 212 metrers under the ground. Later, the chapel was widened several times, traces of the progress of mining works are visible in the form of lines and inscriptions on the ceiling and walls. We owe the interior design to the work of professional artists as well as talented miners.

The work of a salt miner was not an easy one. As well as extremely dangerous. The biggest enemies of the miners were two: water, which of course had to be drained non stop and sadly not once or twice it flooded the shafts. Salt, as we know, dissolves in water, but before it gets this far, it softens, turning walls into mash. On some of my photos you will notice little areas of white salt. This is there due to water leaks. These formations look like small stalactites. What you see on the walls and ceilings and what is gray in color is the real rock salt, the mineral worth more than gold.

Another enemy is methane.

As you walk along the many tunnels, deep under the “world”, which in the slang of the miners means the city level, you will take part in the interactive tour where stories are being told by the holograms of kings, tradesmen and miners who visited, worked and influenced Bochnia salt mine throughout the centuries. The guides will also talk you through more detailed and super interesting facts. One of them is about the methane searchers who’s job was to find the sources of any leaks and of course they were the kamikaze of the mining business as the moment they found a methane source, they most likely ended their lives there and then.

Methane was and to this day remains a most dangerous source of majority of serious mines’ catastrophies. However nowadays it is also utilized as an energy source. As such, many mines use energy generators that gather, absorb and convert methane into something positive. Yet another, after water, wind and solar power, brilliant source of energy given to us for free by Mother Earth.

Horses were an important source of mine power throughout the centeries. In Bochnia, as anywhere else in the world, they would permanently live under the ground until they no longer managed to do the work. And the work was hard. They pulled heavy chunks of salt called “bałwan” which literally translates as “snowman” into English. In the Middle Ages one of these could buy you a village.

In Poland we say “pracować jak w kieracie” – “work like in a treadmill” sort of reflects the idea. Kierat was a huge wheel based construction, to which horses were tied. They then would spend their everyday up until the end of their existence pulling the threadmill, which main function would usually be the drainage of the mine.

There has been a study made on the Horse Behavior Physiology and Emotions during Habituation to a Treadmill, which I think is a great read for anyone who ownes horses and loves them. Simply hover over and download pdf for free.

It actually might not be of harm for the leaders, bosses and managers either to perhaps have a read and ensure the feelnigs of their employees are non comparable.

There were also other type of horses that worked in mines, the “lower horses”, that would be used to pull heavy objects and access areas where it was impossible to use machinery or where humans would not manage.

Below you can see some of the photos of horses who worked in Wieliczka Salt Mine. The photos come from this mine’s archives.

Horses worked in Polish mines for as long as five centuries. Officially, they were withdrawn from the mining industry under a regulation of 1956. In some mines, however, they remained longer, as it was explained, “to help miners work in places where there is no chance of introducing machines”. An example of one such horse is Baśka, the last horse to leave Polish mines, who spent 13 years of life 135 metres under the ground of Wieliczka, the city neighbouring with Bochnia.

Source: Wieliczka Salt Mine Archives

Basia left the mine on 14 March 2002. She was 16 years old at the time and lived for another 13 years in a sanctuary and among her horsey friends. She died in December 2015.

In Bochnia, Kuba was the last horse to leave the mine, but that was 30 years earlier than Baśka, in 1961.

It is unclear though when horses began to work under the ground in the Polish mines. Some claim that it took place at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the proof of which could be the mention of “kieratne” (those that pulled threadmill often situated in the higher levels of mines or even above the ground) and “lower” (working in lower levels) horses in the “Description of the Kraków Saltworks” from 1518.

Mr Józef Charkot, curator of the Kraków Saltworks Museum in Wieliczka says the following:

In the sixteenth century, Wieliczka mine kept a total of about 30 to over 90 animals. In the next two centuries, the number of these animals in the Wieliczka salina significantly exceeded one hundred. These quantities were not large, if we compare them with the number of horses working in the Silesian-Krakow led ore mines. In the mid-sixteenth century, in Olkusz itself, about 600 horses worked – mainly on drainage treadmills- and 700 horses in Tarnowskie Góry.

In 1782 in Wieliczka, underground transport was served by rolling stock consisting of 60, and treadmills located on the surface of 46 horses. In Bochnia, on the other hand, 20 and 40 animals worked respectively. Improved treadmill structures at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and deepened day shafts enabled direct transport of salt to the surface, even from the lowest floors of the mine at that time. These changes reduced the demand for “lower horses”, but the fundamental breakthrough in this matter occurred only in the 60s of the nineteenth century, when the construction of the underground railway and the installation of steam hoisting machines over the shafts began.

After World War II, horses helped miners only with renovation works and in places difficult to introduce mechanization. During that period, the Wieliczka saltworks initially kept four horses at the bottom, however since the 70s of the twentieth century their number decreased to two, and then to one – Baśka. Also four horses were in the 50s of the twentieth century in the underground of the Bochnia mine. The last of them, Kuba, ended his service there in 1961.

Horses that worked in mines pretty much never left the underworld alive. Only in some unusual situations. They would also often become blind.

The old stables areas are preserved and have now been converted into a little picnic spot where you can also learn some about the everyday lives of both, people – on and under the ground – as well as the mine horses. Also the so-called horse roads – safe communication routes built especially for these animals between the mine levels – were preserved, to preserve the memory of animals that for centuries helped miners in their difficult work and were very much loved by them in return.

I have already mentioned the geological uniqueness of Poland, which lies within the Transeuropean Suture Zone. See my blog post called A shaky story by clicking on the title here.

The mountain-forming movements are constant and obvious, very well visible in the area of the Christian and Ważyn Chambers in Bochnia’s mine. On the below photos, you will notice cracked sticks that were placed between rock massives to prove the existence of the tectonic stresses.

Salt is no longer mined in Bochnia. Only scarse amounts which are destined for souvenirs, such as salt lamps and cosmetics, which are plentiful and have the properties of the Epsom salts that are probably better known.

Rock salt is also a great sculpting material and you will find some beautiful artworks carved in it, both over and under the ground in Bochnia.

This city has so much more to offer and these days it is undergoing some incredible restoration. I smell a great revival in the air. But it truly deserves it. Its success story is full of tears and heartache. A Salzberg of Success, which by the way also helped my Mommy to bring me into this world…



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Cosmic Spa @ the World’s Crown Chakra

Listen here to the podcast if you don’t feel like reading: Cosmic Spa @ the World’s Crown Chakra

Is there anybody out there from Poland who has not heard about the Wawel Castle? Well, if so, it must be someone who did not have access to education, and in this case he should receive compensation from the Polish State.

Wawel is not only the seat of Polish kings, it is one of the symbols of Poland, bringing to mind the most important events in the history of this country.

Everything that can be found on Wawel Hill has a timeless value. In fact, it is priceless. Wawel Hill is not just a cradle of architecture, culture and arts, it also means the graves of Polish kings and great people, it is John Paul II, German occupation and the seat of the Third Reich, the Sigismund Bell and numerous legends.

If you are interested in the architecture of this wonderful object and how it came to be what it is today, I invite you to watch the vlog of Radosław and Natalia from Architecture is a Good Idea, because they definitely know it better than me. It is in Polish, but English subtitles are available.

Well, but before any of this happened, we had the Wawel Dragon who benevolently occupied a den by the Vistula river. He destroyed and devoured everything that fell into his paws, thus driving the stronghold of King Krak crazy.

The king himself desperately sought help among the knights and nobles, asking them to liquidate the beast that inhabited the cavern under the castle hill. But nothing went his way. The dragon was terrible and so powerful that none of these knights ever returned.

One day, however, little Skuba, a poor city shoemaker, asked to be heard by Krak. The boy told the king that it was not with a sword, but with a trick how the dragon should and could be conquered and presented his plan to the ruler.

The plan was simple, because simple solutions are the most effective, and yet so rarely used by the know-it-all rulers. The desperate king needed to try everything.

Skuba got himself to work; He stuffed the sheep’s skin with sulfur and sewed it well to resemble a living animal. It then was thrown under the dragon’s den.

As Skuba had predicted, the dragon came out of the cave, grabbed the sheep, and devoured it thoughtlessly and greedily.

After a short while, fire began to digest the beast’s entrails and to extinguish it, the dragon crawled up to our Vistula and drank and drank and drank… until it burst.

And Skuba of course got a wife as a gift in the form of the king’s daughter. (no comment)

Since then, the Cracovians have lived happily ever after, with occasional attacks from enemies, of course, but they have always repelled them.

And this is where the magic of Kraków comes in. Many who visited this city mention that they really felt its magic.


One day, I got my hands on Zbigniew Święch’s book: Wawel Chakra, the greatest mystery of the hill.

At first glance, I thought that if there was a dragon, why not a chakra. But at the time, I had no idea what that really meant. Never have I ever during my Wawel visits, and there were a lot of them from the time of primary school through high school until finally student times when I lived in Kraków, seen groups of Indians resting their heads against the wall, and no one ever mentioned the chakra.

And apparently, the Wawel Chakra is the greatest mystery of the Royal Hill. A talisman placed in the very geographical heart of Europe, which pulsates with extraordinary energy. Is it possible that centuries of Krakow’s strength and charm were to be owed to this seventh holy stone? I don’t know, but there is power!

I grabbed the book under my arm thinking to myself: Damn, Święch generally a wise guy, would he write some crap? Apparently, the first edition of the book was sold out within a week.

The legend that the author studies and describes says that at the end of World War I, archaeologists unearthed the chapel of St. Gereon, the first cathedral of Bolesław the Brave. Later, a German cartographer made a map on which he marked the location of the chapel between the castle and the current cathedral. In this chapel is placed a magical stone, which for two thousand years brings happiness to Wawel and Kraków, as well as to its citizens. At the same time, it makes the city eternal, because thanks to the chakra, it can never be destroyed. This stone was placed under the chapel by the magician Apollonius, who called himself the mediator between humanity and the gods. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is chakra.jpg

Who remembers Dharma and Greg? A show a la sitcom, in which Dharma was a laid-back yogi?

In today’s Buddhism, dharma is a set of principles by which a person should be guided so that his life is as it should be. Dharma is the gateway to a good life.

According to the beliefs of Dharmic religions and esotericists, chakra is the energy center in the body, that is, the place to which many energy channels lead and where this energy accumulates. The chakra receives, stores and radiates the energy that is necessary for life. The development of chakras leads to the development of inner and spiritual liberation.

You probably know, or not if meditation is not your slice of bread, that every person has such chakras in the body.

Source: internet

It is the same with our beautiful planet. According to Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, the Earth chakras, like the human chakras, constitute for the Earth its vital force, energy, information base and keep it in balance.

Over many years, the study of various Earth chakras have proven that in the described places, the body heals faster, the mind enters higher dimensions of consciousness more easily. Contact with such places improves well-being and gives a feeling of bliss and peace. 

Places of power pulsate with energy. Not only are they felt by the body, but also measuring tools are able to demonstrate the presence of “inexplicable” energy in such a place.

Each continent has one of the most important terrestrial chakra, only that there are two versions of their locations 🙂 And where to go?

First version:

• Base Chakra – Mount Shasta in California;
• Pleasure Chakra – Machu Picchu in Peru;
• Personality Chakra – Ayer’s Rock in Australia;
• Love Chakra – Avebury and Glastonbury in England;
• Creativity Chakra – Egyptian Pyramids in Giza;
• Transcendence Chakra – Kun / Lun / Gobi Mountain in Mongolia;
• Absolute Chakra – Mount Cook in New Zealand.

Second version:

• Base Chakra – Mount Shasta in California;
• Pleasure Chakra – Lake Titicaca in South America;
• Personality Chakra – Uluru in Australia;
• Love Chakra – Avebury and Glastonbury in England;
• Creativity Chakra – Egyptian Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and the Mount of Olives in Egypt;
• Transcendence Chakra – Glastonbury and Shafterbury in England;
• Absolute Chakra – Mount Kalisa in Tibet; Wawel Chakra located in the ruins of the church of St. Gereon at Wawel.

Let’s compare the above differences:

*Pleasure Chakra – Titicaca and Machu Picchu are both in Peru

*Personality Chakra – Ayer’s Rock is of course Uluru

*Transcendence Chakra – here, I would opt for version one as in version 2 Glastonbury is repeated. Besides we should have a chakra on every continent. For the same reason, Wawel sounds more accurate than New Zealand for the Absolute Chakra.

The Wawel Chakra is called the 7th Chakra of the Earth, analogous to the chakras in man, the seventh chakra is the crown chakra, located on top of the head. It is therefore the main entry point for the accumulation of cosmic energy, it connects all other chakras, supplying them with energy.

Catholic Church is not a fan of the chakra legend. However, this particular corner of the castle courtyard attracts a crowd of New Age believers and nothing will stop the visitors from meditating near the chapel or leaning against its wall to absorb even a little of its energy. Some say that if you spend a few minutes there, you will feel the flow of energy through yourself.

During one of my visits to Wawel, of course, I went in search of this corner. Well, I found it. I pressed my head against the wall and you know what? The power of persphasia, faith, propaganda or maybe chakra took over me and I felt blissful, all thoughts good and bad flowed away and it was only me.

Wawel Royal Castle, however, decided to meet the needs of the followers of chakra energy and provide a new route that allows you to visit the desired place. From July 2020, it is possible to go on trips to energy sources.

This new route includes a stop at the site of the former church of St. Gereon, which is located in the basement of the west wing of the castle. In the chapel you can find relics of the romanesque crypt and a new gothic chapel created in its place, which was under the patronage of St. Mary of Egypt. 

Such a unique energetic cosmic SPA tour.


Hejnał for dessert on the 750th anniversary of the founding of Kraków

Click here to listen to the podcast: Hejnał for dessert on the 750th anniversary of the founding of Kraków

It was one of the annual visits at my parents’ home near Kraków. The year was 2007. It is usually so that when you’d lived somewhere or know a place very well, you never plan to visit it unless there is something going on in the area.

Somewhere on a way from the Airport in Balice we noticed a banner advertising the 750th anniversary of the foundation of our Cracovia. It was impossible to skip such action.

Not everyone knows what this Kraków is all about. Some say that there were two cities, others talk about the dragon and King Krak, yet others about Wanda, who did not want the German. There is also a Basilisk, and Mr. Twardowski, of course. Well, legends are many, but where to go and what to look at when the 750th birthday is celebrated?

It’s simple 🙂 To Floriańska Street, towards the Market Square and then it goes by itself.

Before you enter the embrace of the remains of the medieval walls of Kraków, and you get there through the Florian Gate, you need to get to know a building that is extraordinary, beautiful and architecturally rich. An unusual addition to the Planty park surrounding the old town, but above all a building whose function not everyone understands. Namely, the Barbican.

The Barbican in medieval Kraków served as a foregate to the city. The entrance to it was on the right side, not from the front, which in the event of an attack allowed flank fire, hence from the side. Its main purpose was to defend the entrance to the city.

It is worth standing by the wall of the Barbican and looking up. There you will see rectangular holes that also served defensive purposes, the so-called machicolations, through which boiling tar, for example, could be poured onto the attackers.

Medieval Barbican and the walls of Kraków (source – wiki)

The city itself was surrounded by walls, in which a tower appeared from time to time. Currently, only three of these towers remain: Passamoniki, Ciesielska and Stolarska. Unfortunately, in the nineteenth century, so-called burzymurka (wall smashing) took place throughout Poland during which the medieval walls of the city of King Krak were not spared. Except for the fragment in the vicinity of the Florian Gate, which was once entered through the Barbican and the oldest Butcher’s Gate, which is a part of the buildings of the monastery in Gródek.

Whoever passed through the Florian Gate already knows where he is and where he is going. Namely, straight ahead, where on the horizon, appears a silhouette of the beautiful St. Mary’s Basilica.

At the beginning, however, we pass the city walls, which are hung with handicrafts and paintings, a few meters further on the left the house of Jan Matejko, one of the greatest Polish painters who happened to have a crazy witch for a wife. On the right pub Pod Złotą Pipą, then Hotel pod Różą, which was the first hotel in Kraków and actually began its career as an inn with a stable for horses.

Today, the hotel is housed in the former Renaissance palace of Prospero Provana, the courtier of Queen Bona. Since the seventeenth century, it has been welcoming the most distinguished guests. Among others, Russian Tsar Alexander I, Grand Duke Constantine, Persian envoy to Napoleon – Mohamed Riza, Franz Liszt and Honoré de Balzac stayed here.
And for several beautiful years, the role of its General Manager was held by one of my favorite lecturers from the university, who loved this place above all.

It would be a sin to forget about Georgian Khachapuri. On the corner with Mark Street. This restaurant appeared in my student days and Lavash, which they served there, literally melted the brain. Amazing thing and I hope you can still count on value for money.

The anniversary of the location of the city of Kraków is not just a random date and not some Night of Museums. It’s a mega party with free admissions to normally inaccessible places, artists on the streets, processions, parades, flowers, music, fireworks. Well, but above all, the ubiquitous history.

There are few cities that can boast the title of European City of Culture, where the Middle Ages mix with the twenty-first century. Where there are more artists and students than residents, and where it is easier to meet a Jew in traditional robe with ear locks hanging from under a hat than in Israel. 🙂

Finally, who has heard, knows that in Kraków, every hour the entire Market Square fills with crowds. People raise their heads and watch an extraordinary spectacle of the bugle call (hejnał) played by a trumpeter from the St. Mary’s Tower.

St. Mary’s Tower is, of course, the tower of the mentioned Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The legend of St. Mary’s bugle call refers to historical events that took place in 1241, when Tatar troops attacked the city of Kraków. It was a medieval custom to keep guard on a tower and warn the city in case of danger.

One morning, when everyone in Kraków was still asleep, thick fog was floating around and the twilight still did not give way to the light of the day, hordes of Tatars sneaked quietly under the city walls.

A trumpeter working in St. Mary’s Church, climbed the tower, as every other day. When he was at the top of it, preparing for work, he saw in front of the city gates hordes of enemy armies. As soon as possible, he decided to warn the inhabitants of the danger, playing his instrument with all his might.

Initially, sleepy citizens did not react, but after a while they understood that increased trumpeting was a warning.

The Tatars, angered by the vigilance of the bugle-caller, pierced his throat with an arrow from a bow, breaking the wailing of the instrument. Everyone who could, however, took up arms and soon a real fight for Kraków was unleashed, which the enemy troops did not bear.

The memory of the trumpeter’s courage spread throughout the world and since the invasion of the Tatars, the bugle call was played from Hejnalica (the tower from which hejnał (buggle call) is played) on St. Mary’s Church, continuously until the end of the eighteenth century, when for some time it was necessary to withdraw the function of the bugle caller due to the inability to finance such an employee. This custom returned to Kraków when private donors – Tomasz and Julianna Krzyżanowscy left in their will a large sum of money to support the trumpeter.

From 1810 to 1939, the bugle call resounded again every day. It was banned only during the Nazi occupation. After some time though, the Germans agreed to have the hejnał trumpeted from the tower at twelve and nineteen o’clock.

The Kraków’s bugle call is of such great importance to Poles that in the 20s of the twentieth century, Polish Radio Station began the custom of streaming it directly from the tower. Hejnał therefore resounds exactly as on that memorable day also via radio, always at twelve o’clock at noon.

When I was a little girl and black and white television did not turn me on (color television does not turn me on either) my mom and I often listened to the radio. Hejnał and the stories read to children on air were our favourite. It is from these times that all my life knowledge comes from. Ah, and those most beautiful songs for children that no one listens to anymore.

When speaking of St. Mary’s Church, at least three things should probably be mentioned. Namely: 1. Wooden altar made by Vit Stwosz, 2. Yellow ciżemka and finally 3. Polish Gothic.

This church – a legend, deserves therefore its own blog post.

So until next time!



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Hejnał na deser z okazji 750-lecia lokacji Krakowa

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Była to jedna z corocznych wizyt w domu rodziców niedaleko Krakowa. Był rok 2007. Wiadomo, kiedy się gdzieś mieszka lub często bywa to zwykle planowanie wycieczek w te miejsca nie jest sprawą oczywistą. No i tak też było tym razem. Pewnie gdzieś po drodze z Lotniska w Balicach mignęło nam przed oczami obwieszczenie o 750-leciu fundacji naszej Cracovii, więc nie można było takiej akcji w ogóle przepuścić!

Nie każdy wie o co z tym Krakowem chodzi. Jedni mówią, że to dwa miasta były, inni o smoku i Kraku, jeszcze inni o Wandzie, która Niemca nie chciała. Jest i Bazyliszek, no i Pan Twardowski oczywiście. No, legend aż się roi, ale gdzie tu iść i na co patrzeć kiedy 750-e urodziny się świętuje?

To proste, tam gdzie zawsze 🙂 Na Floriańską, w stronę Rynku a potem to już samo się idzie.

Tylko zanim wkroczycie w objęcia pozostałości średniowiecznych murów Krakowa, a dostaniecie się tam Bramą Floriańską, trzeba wam moi drodzy poznać budowlę nie zwyczajną; piękną i bogatą architektonicznie, będącą niezwykłą ozdobą Plant, ale przede wszystkim budowlą której funkcję mało kto rozumie, a już z pewnością mało kto ogląda od środka. A mianowicie Barbakan. Obecnie można zwiedzać od środy do niedzieli w godzinach 10-17

Barbakan w średniowiecznym Krakowie służył jako przedbrama do miasta. Wjazd do niego znajdował się po prawej stronie, nie od frontu, co w razie ataku umożliwiało ostrzał flankowy, czyli z boku. Jego głównym celem była obrona wjazdu do miasta. Warto stanąć przy murze Barbakanu i spojrzeć w górę. Zobaczycie tam prostokątne otwory, które również służyły celom obronnym, tak zwane machikuły, przez które można było atakujących polewać wrzącą smołą na przykład.

Średniowieczny Barbakan oraz mury Krakowa (źródło foto – wiki)

Miasto samo w sobie otoczone było murami, w których co jakiś czas pojawiała się wieża. Obecnie tych baszt pozostało tylko trzy: Pasamoników, Ciesielska i Stolarska, ponieważ niestety w XIX wieku nastąpiła tzw. burzymurka na ziemiach Rzeczypospolite,j w czasie której średniowieczne mury miasta Kraka nie zostały oszczędzone, poza widocznym fragmentem w okolicach Bramy Floriańskiej, do której wjeżdżało się kiedyś przez Barbakan i najstarszą bramą Rzeźniczą, która jest częścią zabudowań klasztoru na Gródku.

Kto przeszedł przez Bramę Floriańską już wie gdzie jest i dokąd podąża. A mianowicie prosto przed siebie, gdzie na horyzoncie jawi się sylwetka przepięknego Kościoła Mariackiego.

Na początek jednak mijamy mury, które obwieszone są rękodziełami i obrazami, kilka metrów dalej po lewej dom Jana Matejki, po prawej knajpa Pod Złotą Pipą, Hotel pod Różą, który był pierwszym hotelem w Krakowie i faktycznie zaczął swą karierę jako zajazd ze stajnią dla koni. Obecnie Hotel mieści się w dawnym, renesansowym pałacu Prospera Provany, dworzanina królowej Bony. Od XVII wieku przyjmuje najznamienitszych gości. Zatrzymywali się tu, między innymi, car rosyjski Aleksander I, wielki książę Konstanty, poseł perski do Napoleona – Mohamed Riza, Franciszek Liszt i Honoré de Balzac.
A przez kilka pięknych lat rolę jego kierownika sprawował jeden z moich ulubionych wykładowców na uniwersytecie, który kochał to miejsce ponad wszystko.

Na Floriańskiej malował też kiedyś fajne karykatury Włodek Gonczarenko. W życiu poza Floriańską, Włodek jest ukraińskiego pochodzenia malarzem o niezwykłym talencie, który wybrał Kraków na swój dom.

Grzechem byłoby zapomnieć o Gruzińskim Chaczapuri. na rogu z Marka. Restauracja ta pojawiła się za moich czasów studenckich i Lawasz, który tam robili normalnie roztapiał mózg. Niesamowita sprawa i mam nadzieję, że nadal można liczyć na jakość za dobre pieniądze.

Rocznica lokacji miasta Krakowa to jednak nie byle gradka i nie jakaś tam Noc Muzeów. To mega impra z darmowym wstępem do miejsc normalnie niedostępnych, artyści na ulicach, korowody, pochody, kwiaty, muzyka, fajerwerki. No ale przede wszystkich wszechobecna historia.

Niewiele jest miast, które poszczycić się mogą tytułem Europejskiego Miasta Kultury, gdzie średniowiecze miesza się z wiekiem XXI. Gdzie więcej artystów i studentów niż mieszkańców, gdzie łatwiej spotkać Żyda w tradycyjnym stroju i z pejsami zwisającymi spod kapelusza niż w Izraelu i gdzie jak się wychodzi z domu, to idzie się na pole 🙂

Wreszcie, kto słyszał, ten wie, że to w Krakowie, co godzinę cały Rynek wypełniają tłumy by zadrzeć głowy w górę i obserwować niezwykłe widowisko jakim jest hejnał z wieży mariackiej.

Wieża mariacka to oczywiście wieża Kościoła Najświętszej Marii Panny. Maria = mariacki

Legenda o hejnale mariackim nawiązuje do historycznych wydarzeń mających miejsce w 1241 roku, gdy oddziały tatarskie zaatakowały miasto Kraków. Średniowiecznym zwyczajem było czatowanie strażnika na wieży i ostrzeganie miasta w razie niebezpieczeństw. Legenda opowiada o czasach, gdy ziemie polskie były pustoszone przez Tatarów, którzy w pewnym momencie postanowili napaść na Sandomierz i Kraków.

Pewnego ranka, kiedy wszyscy w Krakowie jeszcze spali, wokół unosiła się gęsta mgła a półmrok wciąż nie ustąpił światłu dnia, hordy Tatarów podkradły się cichaczem pod mury miasta. Trębacz pracujący w Kościele Mariackim jak co dzień wybierał się na wieżę. Gdy był już na jej szczycie, przygotowując się do pracy ujrzał przed bramami miasta całe zastępy armii wroga. Czym prędzej postanowił ostrzec mieszkańców przed niebezpieczeństwem, trąbiąc w instrument z całych sił. Początkowo zaspani mieszkańcy miasta nie reagowali, jednak po chwili zrozumieli, że wzmożone trąbienie jest ostrzeżeniem.

Tatarzy rozgniewani czujnością hejnalisty przeszyli jego gardło strzałą z łuku urywając zawodzenie trąbki. Każdy, kto mógł, chwycił jednakże za broń i wkrótce rozpętała się prawdziwa walka o Kraków, której wojska wroga nie uniosły.

Pamięć o odwadze trębacza rozeszła się po świecie i od czasu najazdu Tatarów hejnał wygrywano z Hejnalicy na mariackiej wieży nieprzerwanie aż do końca XVIII wieku, kiedy to na jakiś czas konieczne było wycofanie funkcji hejnalisty z powodu braku możliwości finansowania takiego pracownika. Zwyczaj ten powrócił do Krakowa gdy prywatni darczyńcy – Tomasz i Julianna Krzyżanowscy ofiarowali w testamencie sporą sumę pieniędzy na utrzymanie trębacza. Od 1810 do 1939 roku hejnał znów zatem rozbrzmiewał bez przeszkód każdego dnia. Zakazano go jedynie w okresie okupacji hitlerowskiej. Po pewnym czasie Niemcy zgodzili się, by z wieży trąbiono o godzinie dwunastej i dziewiętnastej. Hejnał krakowski ma tak wielkie znaczenie dla Polaków, że w latach 20. XX wieku Polska Rozgłośnia Radiowa rozpoczęła zwyczaj bezpośredniej transmisji z wieży. Hejnał rozbrzmiewa zatem dokładnie tak samo jak tego pamiętnego dnia również w eterze, zawsze o godzinie dwunastej w południe.

Kiedy byłam małą dziewczynką i telewizja czarno-biała mnie nie kręciła (kolorowa też mnie wyjątkowo nie kręci) często słuchałam z mamą właśnie radia; hejnału i bajek czytanych dzieciom na antenie. To z tych oto czasów pochodzi cała moja wiedza życiowa. Ah no i te najpiękniejsze piosenki dla dzieci, których już nikt nie słucha.

A skoro mowa o Kościele Mariackim, to zapewne trzeba by wspomnieć o co najmniej trzech rzeczach. Mianowice: 1. Drewniany ołtarz w wykonaniu Wita Stwosza, 2. Żółta ciżemka i wreszcie 3. Polski gotyk.

Dlatego też ten kościół – legenda zasługuje na własną historię.

Tak więc do następnego razu!



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