Unconventional Christmas Break Vacation 2018-2019 for the Nugents. We visited Austria, Czech Republic and Poland.
Below are some of the highlights of the trip and some of the places we went too.
- Reserving the Hotel in Vienna for Friday night even though we were not coming in till Saturday morning was smart. We were able to instantly get into the room and rest.
- This trip I used Uber more than the public transportation. Our Hotels were almost always within walking distance to what we were going to see. However, on some of the sights we were going to see taking an Uber for 10 minutes saved us 30 to 40 minutes if we had used the subway or bus. It was worth the time savings to pay more for the Uber than public transportation.
- Could tell the difference between Czech and Polish foods as compared to Austria.
- Prague was super crowded.
- I had been a little nervous traveling to the Czech Republic and Poland as I only speak English and German. We had no trouble at all. Both countries the people spoke great English.
- I really want to go back to the Czech Republic and Poland and explore more of the country.
- The private Hotel to Hotel transfer service was great. We had pre-planned spots to eat lunch and were able to do some sight seeing at stops along the way.
- Beth and the kids got “Churched” out. I love seeing the famous Churches and then all the Churches you encounter walking around. Each one has amazing architecture, stone work, paintings, statues and ornate decorations.
- Love how amazing Cell Phone cameras are. I ended up taking 3,459 pictures/video on this trip.
- Racking up airline miles with personal and work credit cards is super helpful to traveling.
We flew into Austria. Got to the Hotel at 9:40 a.m. Luckly breakfast was still going on so I took Katherine to eat. Everyone went to bed as we were exhausted. I woke up and went to The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. The Vienna Academy was founded in 1692 as one of the oldest art schools in German-speaking Europe. The earliest collection of paintings dates from the 18th century and consists primarily of the “recording works” of the academy members and the “prize pieces” of the students honored at the annual exhibitions. The pictures served as exemplary teaching aids in art lessons.
But the actual birth of the Gemäldegalerie does not begin until 1822, when Count Lamberg-Sprinzenstein, successful Habsburg diplomat in Turin and Naples, bequeathed his internationally renowned collection of around eight hundred paintings to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. However, Lamberg’s generous donation is subject to the condition that the pictures are accessible to everyone. The result of this is Austria’s first art museum at a public institution at the Vienna Academy. The masterpieces include Hieronymus Bosch’s Trial of the Judgment of the Truth, excellent Dutch and Flemish paintings of the 17th century, including paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt or van Dyck as well as significant works by Lukas Cranach the Elder, Titian, Guardi, Murillo and many others.
Big day of visiting two palaces and a famous Church.
Schönbrunn Palace was the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, it is located in Hietzing, Vienna. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country.
Unfortunately, you could not take pictures inside Schönbrunn Palace. We had a great lunch and dessert at the Palace.
Upper Palace Belvedere – The Belvedere is a historic building complex in Vienna, Austria, consisting of two Baroque palaces, the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. The buildings are set in a Baroque park landscape in the third district of the city, on the south-eastern edge of its center. It houses the Belvedere museum.
Karlskirche (St. Charles Church), is a baroque church located on the south side of Karlsplatz in Vienna, Austria. Widely considered the most outstanding baroque church in Vienna, as well as one of the city’s greatest buildings, the church is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo, one of the great counter-reformers of the sixteenth century.
Beth and the kids were tired so I took them back to the Hotel and made it to the Albertina Museum. It had a Special Monet exhibit that was absolutely amazing. SO many Monet painting. Situated in the very heart of Vienna’s City center, the Albertina houses one of the most important art collections of the world. Founded in 1776, the Museum today owns masterpieces by Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Duerer, Rembrandt etc. The Batliner Collection “From Monet to Picasso” is permanently on display and shows the most important works by artists from the age of modernism. The Habsburg Historic Staterooms of the Albertina give an air of Imperial glamour.
I came back to the Hotel. Beth and Katherine did not want to go out. So Emily and I went to a Christmas Market and got Bratwursts. We ate them on the steps of the Kunsthistorisches Museum which we will visit in the morning. Emily and I then got McDonald’s for Katherine and Beth.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum in Vienna, Austria. Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, it is crowned with an octagonal dome. The term Kunsthistorisches Museum applies to both the institution and the main building. It is the largest art museum in the country.
The Picture Gallery of the Kunsthistorisches Museum developed from the art collections of the House of Habsburg. Today it is one of the largest and most important of its kind in the world.
The foundations of the collection were laid and its main emphases set in the 17th century: 16th-century Venetian painting (Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto), 17th-century Flemish painting (Peter Paul Rubens, Sir Anthony Van Dyck), Early Netherlandish painting (Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden) and German Renaissance painting (Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach).
Among the other highlights in the Picture Gallery are its holdings of pictures by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, which are unique worldwide, as well as masterpieces by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Raphael, Caravaggio, Velázquez and Italian Baroque painters.
The picture Gallery was my absolute favorite museum of the entire trip. We visited Christmas Eve day and were there right when it opened. For the first two hours we had the Picture Gallery to ourselves. It was so incredible to be all alone in the big galleries with famous art work from the legendary artists.
A Terrible Beauty: Rubens’ Head of Medusa in Vienna encounters the version now in Brno
Rubens produced a famous Head of Medusa already much celebrated by his contemporaries: in 1629/30, Constantijn Huygens saw a version in the collection of his friend Nicolas Sohier in Amsterdam, and he begins his report by describing his inability to forget the painting – and noting how glad he is that it hangs in his friend’s house and not his own. There were two versions of this terribly beautiful composition: at the time, the Duke of Buckingham owned the picture now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
For the first time ever, the two versions are reunited and juxtaposed: the Moravian Gallery in Brno agreed to loan their Medusa, executed in oil on panel, to the Kunsthistorisches Museum so that both paintings can be examined and studied together.
We ate lunch at the museum and then went through several exhibits very quickly.
Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection
The Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum is among the world’s most important collections of Egyptian antiquities. The more than 17 000 objects date from a period of almost four thousand years, from the Egyptian Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods (ca. 3500 BC) to the early Christian era. Geographically their origins range from Egypt, Nubia, the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia to the Arabian Peninsula.
Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities
The objects in the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities span a period of more than three millennia and range from Bronze Age ceramics of Cyprus dating from the 3rd millennium BC to early Medieval finds. Some 2500 objects are on permanent display. Three main areas in particular make this collection one of the best of its kind: the unique and spectacular antique cameos, including the famous Gemma Augustea, the treasure troves dating from the period of the great migrations and the early Middle Ages, such as the golden treasure of Nagyszentmiklós, and the collection of vases with such masterpieces as the Brygos Cup.
Among the other highlights of the collection are the larger-than life Votive Statue of a Man from Cyprus, the Amazonian Sarcophagus, the bronze tablet with the famous Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus, the Theseus Mosaic from Salzburg and, not least, the Youth from the Magdalensberg, to name only a few.
Christmas Day we visited two museums and saw the Nutcraker.
Imperial Treasury Vienna
The Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation is the highlight of the collection: Created in the second half of the 10th century, it was used to crown the empire’s emperors. The octagonal crown was highly symbolic and is decorated with numerous biblical references.
The second important crown in the Imperial Treasury is the Austrian imperial crown. It was made in 1602 as a private crown for Emperor Rudolf II. (1552-1612). From 1804, it acted as the crown of the newly created Austrian Empire. However, it was never used to crown an Austrian emperor. One of the biggest emeralds in the world and many other richly decorated pieces of temporal and spiritual power can also be seen, such as two “inalienable heirlooms of the House of Austria”: a giant narwhal tooth, which was believed to come from a unicorn, and a late antiquity agate bowl, which was considered to be the legendary Holy Grail.
Ephesos, located in present-day Turkey, was one of the most important cities of antiquity. It was here that the Artemis Temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, stood; the city was also the home of Heraclitus, as well as of one of the largest early-Christian communities. Roman times saw Ephesos became capital of the Province of Asia, with around 200,000 inhabitants.
Nutcraker Ballet at Opera house
Vienna State Opera is an Austrian opera house and opera company based in Vienna, Austria. It was originally called the Vienna Court Opera. In 1920, with the replacement of the Habsburg Monarchy by the First Austrian Republic, it was renamed the Vienna State Opera. I made reservations at a restaurant. Then took an Uber to the Opera house. It was very cool to see the Nutcracker on Christmas day at the Opera house.
Beth slept in and I took the kids out to visit:
Kaisergruft The Imperial Crypt (German: Kaisergruft), also called the Capuchin Crypt (Kapuzinergruft), is a burial chamber beneath the Capuchin Church and monastery in Vienna, Austria. It was founded in 1618 and dedicated in 1632, and located on the Neuer Markt square of the Innere Stadt, near the Hofburg Palace. Since 1633, the Imperial Crypt serves as the principal place of entombment for the members of the House of Habsburg. The bones of 145 Habsburg royalty, plus urns containing the hearts or cremated remains of four others, are here, including 12 emperors and 18 empresses. The visible 107 metal sarcophagi and five heart urns range in style from puritan plain to exuberant rococo.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (more commonly known by its German title: Stephansdom) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, OP. The current Romanesque and Gothic form of the cathedral, seen today in the Stephansplatz, was largely initiated by Duke Rudolf IV (1339–1365) and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first a parish church consecrated in 1147. The most important religious building in Vienna, St. Stephen’s Cathedral has borne witness to many important events in Habsburg and Austrian history and has, with its multi-coloured tile roof, become one of the city’s most recognizable symbols.
The Hofburg is the former principal imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers and today serves as the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. It is located in the center of Vienna and was built in the 13th century and expanded several times afterwards.
Vienna to Prague
Drive to Trebic, Czech Republic, lunch then St. Procopius Basilica
St. Procopius Basilica is a Romanesque-Gothic Christian church in Třebíč, Czech Republic. It was built on the site of the original Virgin Mary’s Chapel of the Benedictine monastery in 1240–1280.
Drive to Kutná Hora — CHURCH OF BONES
The Sedlec Ossuary is a small Roman Catholic chapel, located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints part of the former Sedlec Abbey in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. The ossuary is estimated to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, whose bones have, in many cases, been artistically arranged to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel.
In 1278, Henry, the abbot of the Cistercian monastery in Sedlec, was sent to the Holy Land by King Otakar II of Bohemia. He returned with a small amount of earth he had removed from Golgotha and sprinkled it over the abbey cemetery. The word of this pious act soon spread and the cemetery in Sedlec became a desirable burial site throughout Central Europe.
In the mid 14th century, during the Black Death, and after the Hussite Wars in the early 15th century, many thousands were buried in the abbey cemetery, so it had to be greatly enlarged.
Around 1400, a Gothic church was built in the center of the cemetery with a vaulted upper level and a lower chapel to be used as an ossuary for the mass graves unearthed during construction, or simply slated for demolition to make room for new burials.
After 1511, the task of exhuming skeletons and stacking their bones in the chapel was given to a half-blind monk of the order.
Beth and I first learned of The Church of Bones when I made her watch a Motorcycle Adventure Documentary in 2005. I’ve been wanting to visit ever since. Only took 13 years!
Saint Barbara’s Church is a Roman Catholic church in Kutná Hora in the style of a Cathedral, and is sometimes referred to as the Cathedral of St Barbara. It is one of the most famous Gothic churches in central Europe and it is a UNESCO world heritage site.
We got dropped off at our Apartment. For Prague we rented an apartment instead of a Hotel because we were able to be much closer to the heart of the old city.
Prague, Czech Republic
Beth and Katherine did now want to get up so Emily and I went to visit churches and then a amazing art gallery in a convent.
Convent of St. Agnes
The convent of Saint Agnes is situated on the right bank of Vltava, in Prague Old Town area called „Na Františku“. The monastery of Poor Clares of the Order of Saint Clare and Franciscans was founded in 1231by Agnes of Bohemia, who also became the abbess of the convent. The museum showcases a collection of medieval paintings & statues in a 13th-century Gothic monastery.
Emily and I got sausage hot dogs (can you call them brats in the Czech Republic?) and came back to the Apartment. Then we were off to visit:
Národní galerie Praha – palác Kinských (The National Gallery) From conceptual 21st-century works to renaissance masterpieces in large, elegant museum of fine art.
Gallery of Art Prague – Warhol, Dali and Mcucha
Charles Bridge is a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century.The bridge replaced the old Judith Bridge built 1158–1172 that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. This new bridge was originally called Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been “Charles Bridge” since 1870. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau) until 1841, Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town and adjacent areas. This “solid-land” connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.
The bridge is 621 metres (2,037 ft) long and nearly 10 metres (33 ft) wide, following the example of the Stone Bridge in Regensburg, it was built as a bow bridge with 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two on the Lesser Quarter side (including the Malá Strana Bridge Tower) and one on the Old Town side, the Old Town Bridge Tower. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries.
It was ridiculous crowded on Charles Bridge yesterday. So I got up before sunrise and went to the bridge. It is beautiful in the morning because there is hardly anyone on the bridge and you can watch the Sun come out and over the Castle Complex that is up on the hill. I enjoyed the bridge and then got the family for our big Castle day.
Prague Castle is a castle complex in Prague, Czech Republic, dating from the 9th century. It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room inside it.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world,occupying an area of almost 70,000 square meters (750,000 square feet), at about 570 metres (1,870 feet) in length and an average of about 130 meters (430 feet) wide. The castle is among the most visited tourist attractions in Prague attracting over 1.8 million visitors annually.
Old Royal Palace — The Old Royal Palace is part of the Prague Castle, Czech Republic. Its history dates back to the 12th century and it is designed in the Gothic and Renaissance styles. Its Vladislav Hall is used for inaugurations, being the most important representative hall in the country. It is also home to a copy of the Czech crown
St. George’s Basilica —St. George’s Basilica is the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic. The basilica was founded by Vratislaus I of Bohemia in 920. It is dedicated to Saint George. The basilica was substantially enlarged in 973 with the addition of the Benedictine St. George’s Abbey.
Golden Lane — Golden Lane (Czech: Zlatá ulička) is a street situated in Prague Castle, Czech Republic. Originally built in the 16th century, to house Rudolf II’s castle guards, it takes its name from the goldsmiths that lived there in the 17th century. Although the lane was temporarily called the Street of Alchemists or Alchemists’ Alley, alchemists have never worked or lived there.
Golden Lane consists of small houses, painted in bright colours in the 1950s. The street originally had houses on both sides, but one side was demolished in the 19th century. Golden Lane is connected with Dalibor Tower, which used to be a dungeon.
St. Vitus Cathedral is the largest and the most important temple in Prague. Apart from religious services, coronations of Czech kings and queens also took place here. The cathedral is a place of burial of several patron saints, sovereigns, noblemen and archbishops.
he cathedral is the third church consecrated to the same saint on the same site. Around the year 925, Prince Wenceslas (Václav) founded a Romanesque rotunda here, which after 1060 was converted into a basilica with three naves and two steeples. The importance of the church grew especially after the establishment of the Prague bishopric in 973 and the founding of the body of canons – the St. Vitus chapter, which later became an important cultural and administrative institution.
In 1344, Charles IV began the construction of a Gothic cathedral. Its first builders, Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler, built the chancel with a ring of chapels, St. Wenceslas Chapel, the Golden Gate and the lower part of the Great South Tower. It was already Peter Parler who started the construction of the South Tower, however he did not complete it. In the 16th century, is was finished with a Renaissance view gallery and a helmet. Later in the 18th century, the older helmet was replaced by a new dome.
Unfortunately, in 1419 the construction of the Cathedral stopped because of the Hussite Wars. In spite of the endeavours of some sovereigns to secure the continuation of the construction work, the Cathedral remained uncompleted for whole centuries.
Treasury of St. Vitus Cathedral — The Treasury of St. Vitus Cathedral is a collection of ecclesiastical treasures of the Prague Cathedral and is in the property of Prague Cathedral Chapter. It is the largest church treasury in the Czech Republic and one of the most extensive in Europe. The Treasure contains more than 400 items, 139 from them have been displayed since 2012 in a new exhibition in the Chapel of the Holy Rood in Prague Castle.
The Treasury includes many holy relics and reliquaries. Famous are the Sword of Saint Wenceslas or Coronation Cross of Bohemia. One of the oldest items in the Treasury is a relic of the arm of Saint Vitus, acquired by Czech Duke Wenceslas (Saint) in 929 from German king Henry the Fowler. Duke Wenceslas built a new church to preserve this relic in honor of Saint Vitus – today St. Vitus Cathedral. The Cathedral and its treasury was richly donated by many rulers, e. g. by Emperor Charles IV or King Vladislaus II.
Prague Castle Picture Gallery — Paintings of the famous collection of the emperor Rudolph II are displayed in Prague Castle Picture Gallery through the whole year. Among more than one hundred unique paintings also works of Titian, Aachen and Rubens can be seen. Unfortunately, no pictures allowed in the Gallery.
One they way back to the Apartment we got the kids food. They stayed in the Apartment and Beth and I went out to an amazing Dinner. The 10 course meal with Beth was an amazing time. I only had one bite of the veal brain. I just could not eat the rest.
TEN COURSE DEGUSTATION MENU
- Amuse Bouche
- Snail, parsnip, garlic, bacon
- 2013 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Achleiten Stockkultur Prager
- Pumpkin, spicy butter, curd, black garlic
- 2010 Pinot Gris Comtes d´Eguisheim Léon Beyer
- Sturgeon, vegetable, nut, spruce
- 2015 Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Patrick Piuze
- Lamb, Gouda, raisin
- 2009 Barolo Enrico VI Cordero di Montezemolo
- Goose liver, berries, peanut, Tonka bean
- 45 days aged beef, veal brain, celeriac, morel
- 2009 Cote Rotie Domaine Jamet
- Ravelin, Horský cheese, mulberry, redcurrant
- Forest honey, elderflower, ginger, rosehip
- Sea buckthorn, juniper, bergamot, beze
- Drappier Carte d’Or Demi Sec
Kids and Beth slept in. I walked around and visited some churches. Then came back and took the kids to Národní galerie Praha – Šternberský palác – Art museum in a palace, home to ancient Greek & Roman works, Renaissance and 19th-century paintings.
Then we had a very nice dinner at a steak house. Tomorrow of to Krakow, Poland.
Prague to Krakow
Stop in Olomouch, Czech Republic Lunch Church of Saint Maurice Church of Saint Maurice is a Roman Catholic church in Olomouc, Czech Republic. It is located in the city center, near the Horní náměstí and remains one of the most important landmarks of the city.
Saint Wenceslas Cathedral Gothic cathedral dating back to the 12th century. The cathedral began in the Romanesque style and was consecrated in 1131. Extensive Gothic modifications were made in 13th and 14th century. The cathedral is formed by three towers. The front two form the front, while the third one in the back, the southern tower, is with its 330.2 ft height the tallest church tower in Moravia, and the second tallest church tower in the Czech Republic
The Hotel in Krakow was able to get us a New Year’s Eve Dinner Reservation. Our Hotel was a 1 minute walk from the Main Square, Kraków. The main square of the Old Town of Kraków, Lesser Poland, is the principal urban space located at the center of the city. It dates back to the 13th century, and at 3.79 ha is one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe.
New Years Day, I walked Krakow as the Museums were closed. Visited several churches.
Beth did not want to go and we thought that the kids were not emotionally ready to see the horrors of Auschwitz.
Auschwitz ——- About 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at Auschwitz. 1.1 million people died during the four and a half years of Auschwitz’s existence. Auschwitz was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940.
Auschwitz concentration camp was a complex of 48 concentration and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. It consisted of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Auschwitz III–Monowitz, and dozens more subcamps.
It is estimated that the SS and police deported at least 1.3 million people to the Auschwitz camp complex between 1940 and 1945. Of these deportees, approximately 1.1 million people were murdered.
The best estimates of the number of victims at the Auschwitz camp complex, including the killing center at Auschwitz-Birkenau, between 1940 and 1945 are:
- Jews (1,095,000 deported to Auschwitz, 960,000 died)
- Non-Jewish Poles (140,000- 150,000 deported, 74,000 died)
- Roma (Gypsies) (23,000 deported, 21,000 died)
- Soviet prisoners of war (15,000 deported and died)
- Other nationalities (25,000 deported, 10,000- 15,000 died)
Auschwitz-Birkenau had the highest death rate, but also the highest survival rate of the killing centers.
During the Holocaust, concentration camp prisoners received tattoos only at one location, Auschwitz. Incoming prisoners were assigned a camp serial number which was sewn to their prison uniforms. Only those prisoners selected for work were issued serial numbers; those prisoners sent directly to the gas chambers were not registered and received no tattoos.
I have been to Dachau (near Munich) and Sachsenhausen (near Berlin). There is no way to explain the eerie feeling you get when visiting these places of pure horror. Walking around Auschwitz in the cold and snow was indescribable. I had thermals top and bottom, jeans, shirt, heavy jacket, gloves and a toboggan knit hat. Every time I exited a building my mind thought about the prisoners of Auschwitz standing for hours in the cold during roll call with minimal clothing on. Walking through the gas chamber made me nauseous. This was the first time visiting a concentration camp as a Father. Looking at pictures of children was very difficult and made me want to cry.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine, in the town of Wieliczka, southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. Sodium chloride (table salt) had been produced there from the upwelling brine since Neolithic times. The Wieliczka salt mine, excavated from the 13th century, produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world’s oldest operating salt mines. Throughout its history, the royal salt mine was operated by the Żupy Krakowskie (Kraków Salt Mines) company.
Commercial salt mining discontinued in 1996 due to falling salt prices and mine flooding. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is now an official Polish Historic Monument (Pomnik Historii). Its attractions include the shafts and labyrinthine passageways, displays of historic salt-mining technology, an underground lake, four chapels and numerous statues carved by miners out of the rock salt.
After the Salt mines Beth and Katherine staid in the Hotel room.
Emily and I went out and took a tour of the city in a Golf cart. We had headphones and listened to the history of the city. We visited the Old Town, Kazimierz Jewish Quarter, Former Ghetto and Schindler’s Factory. We then had an incredible meal together. Emily got lobster and I got a giant steak. We got Beth and Katherine McDonald’s on our way back to the hotel room.
National Museum — DaVinci — Krakow is one of just six places in the world that can boast a painting by Leonardo da Vinci (born 1452, died 1519). And there are known only three female portraits of which Krakow’s Lady with an Ermine is arguably the most beautiful. It’s also in the best shape after the 500-plus years that elapsed. Leonardo’s masterpiece depicts a delightful teenage beauty, most probably Cecilia Gallerani who was the mistress of Milan’s ruler Lodovico Sforza il Moro, the artist’s patron. Most likely Leonardo da Vinci painted her in his early thirties, between 1482 and 1485 – i.e. some 20 years before the Paris’ Louvre’s famed Mona Lisa – and for the first time he showed the sitter in the way that would soon become the standard. Art historians maintain it’s the world’s first modern-age portrait ever painted.
Wawel Royal Castle
The Wawel Castle is a castle residency located in central Kraków, Poland. Built at the behest of King Casimir III the Great, it consists of a number of structures situated around the Italian-styled main courtyard. The castle, being one of the largest in Poland, represents nearly all European architectural styles of medieval, renaissance and baroque periods. The Wawel Royal Castle and the Wawel Hill constitute the most historically and culturally significant site in the country. In 1978 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Centre of Kraków.
For centuries the residence of the kings of Poland and the symbol of Polish statehood, the Castle is now one of the country’s premier art museums. Established in 1930, the museum encompasses ten curatorial departments responsible for collections of paintings, including an important collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, prints, sculpture, textiles, among them the Sigismund II Augustus tapestry collection, goldsmith’s work, arms and armor, ceramics, Meissen porcelain, and period furniture.
Gothic cathedral & national sanctuary. It was the coronation site of the Polish monarchs, with visits to the Sigismund Bell, royal tombs & museum.
Wierzynek Restaurant oldest resturaunt in Krakow. Over 650 years ago in 1364, wealthy merchant Mikołaj Wierzynek hosted a splendid feast for the monarchs of Europe on behalf of the Polish King Casimir the Great. Wierzynek undertook the task of hosting the feast with great care and overwhelmed his noble guests with a truly lavish welcome. According to legend the tables were groaning with food and drinks and the guests celebrated for 20 days and nights. Upon departure, the generous merchant presented each guest with a splendid gift – gold and silver tableware. At the Wierzynek Restaurant we continue this great medieval tradition of feasting until the present day by giving a royal welcome to each and every one of our guests