Today was another hot day for MYWE here in Krakow. We spent the morning sight seeing in the old quarter of the city. We went into St. Mary’s Basilica, a beautiful brick cathedral in the central square, where we saw the ceremony to open the giant wooden alter. The cathedral was beautiful, with hand painted ceilings and marble, wood, and gold decorations everywhere. We also got to hear the trumpet call from the very top of the church steeple. Apparently a trumpet plays this specific call every hour of the day, four times (one in each direction, N, S, E, W). Our guide Isabella explained that the trumpet call commemorates a trumpet player in the 13th century who was killed by an arrow to the throat while he was trying to sound the alarm for a Mongol attack on the city. We heard the trumpet player play many times throughout the course of the day. At one point, we even all waved at him from the ground below, and he waved back!
After free time for lunch, everyone had the option to take a tour of the oldest university in Poland, Jagiellonian University, or have more free time. About half the group, myself included, decided to go on the tour (I think the air conditioning swayed many people). Inside was an amazing collection of old documents, scientific instruments, and treasures as well as the preserved dining room, living room, and lecture hall for the scholars. They even had a first edition of Copernicus’ De revolutionibus orbium coelestium!
After meeting up with the group again, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our concert at the Krakow Conservatory. Upon arriving at the hall for a quick rehearsal, we were all surprised by how dry the acoustics were. It took some getting used to after the resonance of the salt mine! During the concert, we performed some pieces that we had not played on the send off concert, including the Ives Symphony #2 Finale. The audience was smaller, but seemed receptive to our music.
After a dinner at a local restaurant back in the old part of the city, we came back to the hotel to get some sleep for the final leg of the trip. Tomorrow, we are going to drive four hours to reach Warsaw. I think everyone is excited to see yet another beautiful city!
Welcome back to the Sr. MYWE Tour Blog. Today, we toured the medieval old town in Krakow (after getting to sleep in until 11!). Krakow is the one major Polish city to have survived unharmed through World War II, so much of its historical features are well preserved. Krakow was the capital of Poland for almost 600 years starting in the 11th century, and it contains monumental architecture dating from the middle ages and the Renaissance, as well as newer constructions.
Today we learned about Krakow’s legendary dragon, which is said to have required sacrifices of the townsfolk. The legendary leader Krak, for which the city is named, sent knights futilely against the dragon until a local shoemaker volunteered and outwitted the dragon. After seeing a sculpture of the dragon we visited the fortified castle and cathedral on Wawel Hill, looking out over the city. The cathedral contained the tomb of Queen Hedwig, who married a Lithuanian king 30 years her senior to unite the kingdoms of Poland and Lithuania, and a relic from the late Pope John Paul II, the first Polish pope who is likely to be canonized.
After lunch in the old town square (I had goulash in a bread bowl with shredded cabbage and pickles), we continued to to Wieliczka Salt Mine, one of the world’s oldest salt mines. Inside lie a number of beautiful chapels carved out of salt by the miners, who must have been quite pious. The most massive of these contained two towering staircases, Da Vinci’s Last Supper carved in relief, and a rock salt chandelier. It was created by only three miners over 70 years! We were grateful to have the opportunity to play a concert of chamber music inside this chapel, including pieces by Telemann, Bach, and our own Alex Mayhew and Ezra Weller (that’s me!).
From the salt mine, a cool 55 degrees F, we reentered the blazing heat of the summer day in need of a refreshing meal, which we received at a restaurant near the mine. Back at the hotel, most chose to watch the final game of the Euro 2012 Football Cup. Too bad for us Italy fans, Spain dominated in a 4-0 victory. But still, a great day.
Sr. MYWE Manager
Here are the latest videos
Hi, MYWE fans. Today we moved on from Wroclaw to Krakow, stopping on the way at Auschwitz and Birkenau, two of the biggest Nazi concentration camps from World War II. It was a scorchingly hot and sunny day and an emotional visit for all of us. After a refreshing midday meal, we arrived in Krakow early enough to spend the evening around town, eating at local restaurants and seeing the local scenery. More updates and videos to come tomorrow!
Sr. MYWE Manager
Videos from the first few days in poland. You can see more at the SR MYWE channel on Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQAGm83sIm4nlTst40AQz2w
MYWE Students on the Lover’s Brige.
MYWE Students first Concert in the Wroclaw Philharminic Hall.