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Krakow Wedding Picture – National Geographic

This Month in Photo of the Day: City Pictures

Kazimierz, the historical Jewish quarter of Krakow, provides a colorful backdrop for an impromptu wedding shoot. “This wonderful place is the Jewish district,” Your Shot contributor G. Dzhevelieva says. “It keeps so much paint and history between the streets. Nowadays it’s the most interesting art place in Poland.”

via Wedding Picture –- Poland Photo — National Geographic Photo of the Day.

August 26, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Krakow Ghetto opened 72 years ago this week

IN SCHINDLERS STEPS – This day in history – 1941 – The beginning of the Jewish ghetto in Krakow

One of the five main ghettos created by Nazi Germany during their occupation of Poland in WWII. Before the war, the city was an influential cultural centre for the 60,000 – 80,000 Jews that resided there.

February 26, 2013 Posted by | This Day In History, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC Travel – Kazimierz: New life in Krakow’s Jewish quarter

Wander through Kazimierz, better known as the Jewish quarter of Krakow, Poland’s second largest city, and signs of the area’s cultural heritage are everywhere.

Szeroka - Kazimierz

The Old Synagogue dominates Ulica Szeroka (Wide Street), where wooden tables from traditional Jewish restaurants spill out onto the pavement In the evenings while the sound of traditional Jewish klezmer music emanates from the bars and cafes of the surrounding alleys.

via BBC – Travel – New life in Krakow’s Jewish quarter : Cultural Activities, Poland.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations, Tour Information | , , , | Leave a comment

Spielberg the Clear Favorite to Win best Director.

American filmmaker Steven Spielberg is clear favorite among the public to win the best director award for his film about President Abraham Lincoln at the Academy Awards this year, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

While the race to win best film at the February 24 ceremony was shaken up by “Argo” stealing the thunder of “Lincoln” at two award ceremonies last weekend, the best director statuette was deemed destined for one man.

Scene from Schindlers List, filmed on Szeroka in Kazimierz, Krakow.

Scene from Schindler’s List.
Filmed on Szeroka in Kazimierz, Krakow.

Spielberg, 66, who has been nominated seven times for best director at the Oscars and won twice – for the World War Two dramas “Schindler’s List” in 1993 and “Saving Private Ryan” in 1998 – was seen as far ahead in the all-male field of five.

A Reuters Ipsos poll of 1,641 Americans found 41 percent thought Spielberg should win and 38 percent said he was most likely to win for his U.S. Civil War-era drama in which British actor Daniel Day-Lewis plays Lincoln.

Almost half of the respondents to the survey conducted Friday through Tuesday were unsure who should or was most likely to be voted best director. The accuracy of the poll uses a statistical measure called a “credibility interval” and is precise to within 2.8 percentage points.

The online poll comes before the Directors Guild of America awards on Saturday in Los Angeles. Since 1948, there have been only six occasions where the winner of the DGA Award for Feature Film has not gone on to win the Oscar for best director.

But this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose members choose Oscar winners, overlooked the directors of four of the year’s biggest movies – Ben Affleck (“Argo”), Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained”) and Tom Hopper (“Les Miserables”) – opening the possibility of a rare split in February in the best film and best director categories.

January 31, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unesco video for Krakow


Planning on visiting Krakow, contact KRAKOW TOURS for all the help you need.

January 17, 2013 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kazimierz Smolen. RIP

Kazimierz Smolen survived the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Mauthausen, and went on to co-found the State Museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He died on Holocaust Memorial day aged 91.

Smolen was born into a Catholic family in 1920 in Chorzow Stary, southern Poland. After the Nazi occupation in September 1939 he joined one of the first resistance groups. Arrested in April 1940 in Chorzow, he was sent to the former Austro-Hungarian cavalry barracks on the outskirts of the Polish town of Oswiecim, which had been annexed by the German Reich and was now known as Auschwitz.

The Nazis had converted the old barracks into a concentration camp for Poles, and Smolen was dispatched in one of the first prisoner transports and given the prisoner number 1327. He recalled that in the first few months, he and the other prisoners, mainly Poles, were held standing in a totally dark cell; many suffered strokes. Each morning and evening the SS conducted roll call outside. Weak, starving and barefoot, prisoners were often made to do “exercise” by turning around in circles with their arms raised above their heads, sometimes for several hours. When the inmates stopped or lowered their arms, the guards beat or shot them.

Later they were put to work building Birkenau, a new sub-camp, where the gas chambers were located. They worked from 5am until dark in muddy fields and marshes, their food consisting of a litre of herbal tea in the morning and 250 grams of bread in the evening, and sometimes soup. There were deaths each day from exhaustion. Fortunately for Smolen, when the Nazis discovered he could type he was transferred to office duties.

Smolen left Auschwitz on the last transport of around 10,000 prisoners on 18 January 1945, nine days before its liberation by Soviet troops. He survived the “death march” and was imprisoned in Ebensee, the sub-camp of Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz in Upper Austria. There he joined Russian, French, Dutch, Norwegian, German, Austrian, Spanish and other nationalities. The camp was an integral part of the Nazi armaments industry where the policy of Vernichtung durch Arbeit [extermination through work] was the order of the day.

As the curtain fell on the Reich most of the SS guards and their commander, Franz Ziereis, fled. Ziereis was later shot trying to escape from American troops. On 5 May 1945 the camp was approached by soldiers of the 41st Recon Squad of the US 11th Armored Division, who disarmed the auxiliary guards and left. The 30 or so remaining SS were killed by the prisoners.

After the war Smolen returned to Poland and graduated from the law faculty at the Catholic University of Lublin. He worked for the Main Commission for Investigation of Nazi Crimes and had the satisfaction of living to see the longest-serving commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, tried and hanged. The last commandant, Richard Baer, died in custody. Smolen appeared as a witness and an expert in many war-criminal trials, including the Nuremberg trials in 1945 and ’46, and the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, which ran from December 1963 to August 1965. At Frankfurt six defendants were given life sentences and several others received the maximum prison sentences – though many others never faced trial.

Smolen was a co-founder and adirector, from 1955-90, of the StateMuseum Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was also a long-standing secretary-general and deputy chairman of the International Auschwitz Committee. Hisperiod in office saw many controversies: he not only had to rebut Holocaust deniers but he was often faced with disagreements within his committee with members from about 19 countries, which reflected the changes in Cold War alliances.

He and his wife lived within the camp in a flat above the main office. They remained there after his retirement. He explained his decision to return to the camp to manage it as a way of honouring those who were killed there. He attributed his survival to good health and extreme luck. He died in Oswiecim on the 67th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, which in 2005 was designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations.

Kazimierz Smolen, lawyer and museum director: born Chorzow Stary, Poland 19 April 1920; married; died Oswiecim, Poland 27 January 2012.

February 18, 2012 Posted by | Auschwitz | , , , | Leave a comment

Krakow’s ghetto opened 70 years ago today.

Seventy years ago today, the occupying Nazi German regime opened a ghetto in Krakow for Poles of Jewish descent. It was one of the five largest such ghettos in the so-called General-Government region of the Third Reich.

By 3 March 1941, over 36,000 Cracovian Jews had already been forcibly resettled outside the city. Now a second wave was enacted, enclosing the remaining Jews in a walled section of the city’s Podgorze district, south of the River Vistula.

By October 1941, the Ghetto housed about 16,000 people. They were enclosed in an area that prior to the war had accommodated 4,000. Apartments typically housed four families together.

Evacuations of the ghetto to forced labour camps began in May 1942, as recorded in the memoir of Catholic pharmacy owner Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who was later decorated by the State of Israel.

Another prominent figure who aided the Jewish community was Oskar Schindler, who famously used the free labour of Jews at his enamel factory, a short walk from the ghetto. He succeeded in saving the lives of over 1,000 Cracovian Jews.

65,000 Jews from the city and its environs perished during the war. Approximately ten percent of the pre-1939 population survived. Amongst those who escaped the ghetto was the young Roman Polanski, who went on to become one of Poland’s most renowned film directors.

In the summer os 2010, the city of Krakow opened a major museum chronicling the occupation in the former Schindler Factory. A march of remembrance also takes place every year, marking the bloody liquidation of the ghetto in March 1943.

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Events, Tour Information | , , , , , , | 1 Comment video


September 18, 2010 Posted by | Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Niepolomice Castle, and the stolen Wawel Chakra.

Krakow Tours to Niepolomice and the castle.

KRAKOW TOURS – Commonly known throughout history as the ‘Second Wawel,’ it shouldn’t come as surprise that the Royal Castle in Niepołomice shares (steals?) a bit of lore from the more famous royal residence in Kraków.

No there’s no tale of a dragon (though you’d think with all the dark, spooky woods surrounding it they could at least cook up some kind of Grendel story), but Niepołomice does try to get some of the good vibes from one of Wawel’s more famous legends – that of the fabled chakra stone.

According to many eastern religious, spiritual and yogic traditions, a chakra (if you don’t know) is a specific point where the powerful network of energy connecting all living things can be felt the strongest. Apparently when the Hindu goddess Shiva sent seven sacred stones – corresponding with the seven natural chakra points on the body – hurtling across the earth, one just happened to end up on Wawel Hill in Kraków and has since become a hit with travellers seeking to channel its powers.

According to local legend, King Kazimierz the Great liked his Niepołomice retreat so much he brought a piece of the Wawel chakra stone here and buried it beneath the castle in one of its gothic cellars. Since all this Hindu mumbo-jumbo doesn’t jive with Wawel’s status as a Catholic spiritual centre, Wawel authorities have done everything possible to downplay the legend; however keen observors will notice a plaque in the courtyard of Niepołomice Castle vaguely identifying the place where Kazimierz His Greatness deposited the chakra chunk in 1340.

Tours to Niepolomice and the castle are available from Krakow Tours, why not combine it with your Wieliczka Salt Mine trip?

Extracted from Krakow In Your Pocket Guide Book, available here.

August 5, 2010 Posted by | Recommendations, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Krakow Marathon 2010

KRAKOW TOURS – The 25th of April 2010 is the day of the annual Krakow Marathon.

With already over 1600 entrants, this years race promises to be the biggest ever for both runners and rollerbladers.

The route around the Old Town, through Kazimierz, along the Vistula river and out to Nowa Huta is one of the most scenic and historic in the world marathon calendar.

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Sport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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