St. Florian's Gate and the Barbican, Krakow
Coming from the central market Rynek Glowny by the very touristy Florianska street - with burger and kebab shops - the contrast is great with the medieval St-Florian Tower gate from 1307 and the medieval fortification walls on both sides of the tower.
On the left in the Pijarska street is a small museum about the City Defensive Walls (Mury Obronne). Ticket is combined with the Barbican.
We did not visit; after Carcassonne, Aigues-Mortes, Avila, and others we think we have done our duty climbing on medieval walls.
Frankly I was not impressed by this barbican. Too nice, too clean, too restored, looking weak because build of bricks. Not military enough for me. Give me rough granite stone that's what I like to see on medieval fortifications.
This Gothic-style barbican, built around 1498, is one of the very few such fortified outposts still surviving in Europe, and the best preserved and largest.
Furthermore it is a nice barbican. The term "fairy-tale" was used here in some comments and I do understand because I'm not far from feeling that way when I discovered the barbican through the leaves of the Planty garden trees.
Another one is in Warsaw and was rebuilt after its destruction during WW II.
The surviving fragment of Krakow's city wall opposite the Barbakan, where students and amateur artists hang their paintings for sale in the summer, contains the Renaissance Municipal Arsenal, which now houses part of the National Museum's Czartoryski Collection. I bought the most beautifull little painting here, that always reminds me of the good times we had here.
This is the only part of the medieval walls around the city that has survived. Originally constructed as part of the city defenses against possible invasion of the Turks, it had 4 towers and an arsenal. This was the main gate to the Old town, separated from the Barbakan by a moat. Today it leads onto Florianska Street a place active with shops and places to eat.
This was part of the royal road, the processional route that VIP's would take through the city, going from Florian's gate to the Rynek Glowny and then over to Wawel Castle.
The Gate is named for St Florian, whose veneration is common in Central Europe. Among other things he is the patron saint of firefighters. He is commonly depicted as a roman soldier pouring water over a fire. He died in 303 AD after being tortured when he refused to offer sacrifice to the Roman deities.
The Florian Gate and adjoining Barbican are the remaining elements of the defenses that once protected Krakow in the Middle Ages. the gate was built in the 14th century as protection against the Turks. It contains an image of St. Florian, the patron saint of Linz, Austria.
The nearby barbican, which served as a fortified outpost, was added later on, in 1498. It is the best surviving structure of its kind in Europe. A museum inside shows the history and allows visitors to walk the parapets. Admission is charged.
Krakow's main city gate had to be defended, at any cost. Therefore Europe's mightiest barbican was built in 1498 - 99 thanks to king Jan Olbracht. It's diameter is nearly 25 metres and the walls are up to 3,65 metres thick. There are 130 loopholes in four rows: the upper for archers and riflemen, the lower for the artillery. In the past the Barbican was surrounded by a 30 metres wide moat, which is now filled up and actually where we walk today.
During summer the Barbican can be visited together with a tour of the Florian's Gate.
The medieval Krakow had a defence system consisting of around three km long walls. The main walls were 10 metres high and 2,5 metres thick with 39 towers and 8 gates. Alongside the main walls there were lower walls and an eight metres deep and 22 metres wide moat. The construction started in the late 13th century. Not much of this remains today, only the Florian's Gate, a short stretch of the wall together with three towers, and the Barbican.
The Florian's Gate is ~33 metres high. It was built around 1300. This was the site where Krakow's Royal Road begun. Visiting Polish kings and queens, foreign monarchs and other guests of importance entered the city here and then went to the Main Square and further on to the Royal Castle, Wavel.
Nowadays tourists can visit the Florian's Gate as well as the Barbican (see my next tip) on a tour every day during summer. First entrance is at 10.30 and closure at 18.00.
The 33 m tall St. Florian's Gate (Brama Florrianska) was part of the anicent defence walls. It was completed in 1307 and a Baroque roof was added in 1657. The gate was the entrance to the Old Town and the starting point for the Royal Route.
The St. Florian's Gate is situated at the northern end of the shopping street ul. Florianska.
Krakow, like any sizeable and respectable old city, has its city walls and gates. The Florianska Gate, near the Barbican, and the streets approaching it are the best preserved in Krakow. We always enjoy taking our time to just "wander", with no purpose in mind, the streets of the old citys, just sort of absorbing the ancient feel of them. Here near the Florianska Gate we found a wonderful bridge connecting two buildings on opposite sides of the street. Also a statue of the god Mercury with his winged hat and shoes.
St Florian gate is the main city gate, built at the end of the XIII century. to protect the northern entrance to the city. On both sides of the gate are the Medieval city walls, and it is great how they are using the old town wall to display paintings from new upcoming young artists and that way also introduce them to the world.
The Kraków Barbican is a former fortified outpost and munition depot. It's the sole remainders of a sries of similar barbicans that were located around the old city.
The building was constructed in 1498-1499. Originally the barbican was linked to the city wall by a covered passageway and a drawbridge at the St. Florian Gate.
Nowadays the building is a multi purpose exhibition center.
Admission fee: PLN 7.00 (adult)
Summer visiting hours:
Daily: 10.20AM - 6PM
The Brama Floriañska or St. Florian's Gate is the main city gate dating from the late 13th century.
In 1657 a roof in Baroque style was constructed.
At the town side there is a stone relief of St. Florian looking over the Floriañska street.
In the 19th century the city walls lost their original function and most of them were demolished; luckely the Brama Floriañska was spared together with the 16th-century city arsenal known as the Barbican in front of the gate.
Passing through St Florians Gate (see previous tip) we found ourselves standing behind this 15th Century fortification, that was part of Krakow's defense system. This is the only one of the pair of Barbicans in Krakow that remains.
This was our meet up point, so it wasn't until the following day, when we passed by this structure to reach Plac Matejki, that I got to see its full impact. (Main photo)
From this Square, I could see why it is considered one of the most beautiful (and largest) of the few remaining similar structures in Europe.
If I had seen this view initially, I would have thought it was a small arena (It did resemble an Andalucian bull ring, with its circular structure, Moorish/Arabic style gated archways and the overhanging windows above the gate)
The seven turrets gave it a Disneyesque appearance. The 24.4 metre diameter circular brick walls are 3 metres deep, and have 130 loopholes. The lower ones were for artillery, while the upper holes were for archers and riflemen. The moat was 20 metres wide and 8 metres deep.
Apparently, it was connected to St Florians Gate by a narrow passage and drawbridge that crossed the moat.
This would probably have been the site of jousting, sword fights and executions.
Today, the Barbican is used as an open air gallery, and also is host to small concerts and theatre productions.
It was also the meet up point for the 6th VT Euromeet, where Matt and Urszula and their helpers were here to welcome us, then take our money for our guided walks of Medieval Krakow, so we'll continue to our next Thing to Do/See in Krakow........
Leaving the Square, near the Basilica, we found ourselves in Florian street, which is lined with souvenir shops, fast food places, shops selling clothes and accessories, cafes restaurants and bars. Apparently this street is the place to head for the best kebabs in Krakow!
This gate was one of 8 original gates, built (around 1300) into the city walls, to defend Krakow from invasion.
Built of red granite, the gateway tower reaches 33.5 metres. The metal 'helmet' was added in 1660, which added another metre.
On the South facing wall, look for the 18th Century Bas Relief of St Florian (pic2) The North face has a carved Stone Eagle.(pic 3) Balfor also pointed out some 'unusual decorative features!!!' on the ground near the gateway on the North facing side (pic 5)
By 1500 Krakow had the strongest defence (it was also one of the richest cities) in Europe.
The Old Town was protected by a wall, containing 47 towers (These were all individually designed, and were each owned by the many trade Guilds that were forming. The towers were guarded by the Royal Troops, and the Guild Merchants) encircling the wall was a moat, which was encircled by a second wall and another moat. Within the 2nd defensive wall were 2 Barbicans (Only one still remains-this was the one we were heading for as it was our meeting point)
By the end of the 18th Century, many towers and sections of the walls had crumbled and fallen into disrepair. During Austrian Occupation, it was intended to remove all of the defensive structures. However, Feliks Radwanski, a patriotic citizen launched a campaign to save the walls.
The most northerly section was spared . This included the section of wall containing St Florians gate, which is topped by the tower of the Furriers Guild. The gate is flanked by the Haberdashers Tower (eastern) and that of the Carpenters (western)
This gateway was the historic entrance to the city, and so it was the starting point for processions and parades that date back to ancient times. Royals passed down Florianska Street, into Rynek Glowny and onto Wawel for their Coronations. This route is known as The Royal Way.
It is possible to look around the towers and The Barbican (entrance to both with one ticket. Adult/Concessions and Family tickets available) LP 6th Edition May 2008 quotes 6/4/12 zloty for these.. Open 10.30 - 18.00 May- October (Same opening times for Barbican)
Although Krakows defensive walls kept out foreign invasion for over 200 years, you can see that one international invader has taken up residence just outside St Florians gate - (pic 4)
Following the end of communism in Poland in 1989, restaurants re-opened, and a wider variety of food was available in the shops.
Warsaw was to be the first city in Poland to have a building featuring the 'Golden Arches' - Ulica Florianska, 55, Krakow, Poland was to be the address of the 2nd Mc Donald's in Poland. Later that morning, our guide would explain how as a 7 year old, she excitedly queued with her family to enter this place for the first time. For many it symbolised an end of Communism and the Cold War. For some it was associated with higher 'Western' Standards of food and hygiene. I do remember hearing the news reports when Mc Donald's opened their first Russian Venture in Moscow, with long queues.
I'm not a particular fan of the food sold by this company, nor of their marketing tactics, but I guess that I too would have been queuing excitedly if I'd lived through such a regime.
Apparently there was a lot of controversy about the site for the first Mc Donald's -originally it was going to be on or nearer Rynek Glowny, For some of the objections but ended up here. During renovation of this building, a gothic cellar was discovered, which was restored.
As you would imagine, once Ronald Mc Donald had his toe in the door, there was no stopping at just one outlet...
McDonalds Krakow Czyzyny - Pokoju 67
McDonalds Krakow Grzegorzki - Pokoju 44
McDonalds Krakow Podgorze - Wadowicka 2a
McDonalds Krakow Podgorze - Wielicka 85
McDonalds Krakow Pradnik Bialy - Jasnogorska 2
McDonalds Krakow Pradnik Bialy - Opolska 9
McDonalds Krakow Pradnik Czerwony - Bora-Komorowskiego 33
McDonalds Krakow Pradnik Czerwony - Pilotow 6
McDonalds Krakow Srodmiescie - Pawia 5
McDonalds Krakow Stare Miasto - Florianska 55
McDonalds Krakow Stare Miasto - Szewska 2 P
To get from our hotel to the central market square we would have to pass by the Barbican and through the Florian Gate, Krakow's northern defense against invaders. The Barbican was built in 1498 as an extension to the 14th century city walls, there was at one time a covered passage between the Barbican and the Florian Gate but that is no more. At one time there were 47 towers and 8 city gates, I believe this is all that is left of the city's defensive walls.
It looked like you could walk the small part of the wall here and the guidebooks say you can visit the Barbican.