The Zwierzyniec District

Zwierzyniec is the greenest district of Kraków. For years, its pride have been the Kraków Błonia, which can be considered the largest meadow in Poland (48 hectares), located in the city centre. The history of Błonia dates back to 1162 when the wealthy nobleman Jaxa Gryfita gave the area to the Norbertine Monastery in order to secure himself a happy journey to the Holy Land. In 1366 the Norbertines made over the land to the city in exchange for a town house on Floriańska Street.

For many years Błonia were the only grazing place in the centre of the city, since in 1834 taking cows to the Planty Park was banned. The privilege to graze cattle in the Błonia has survived for centuries and was granted by Queen Jadwiga to the villages in the vicinity of Kraków.

In the 1950s and 1960s Błonia were a very popular place among the Kraków residents, who spent there their afternoons and Sundays – camping or going on picnics. We have to remember that at that time there was no such thing as free weekends, and that the areas outside the city were not easily accessible due to a small number of private cars. Even today the Błonia owe their popularity to the fantastic location right next to the lovely Jordan Park (Park Jordana) and between two football stadiums – Wisła and Cracovia. It was on the Błonia that the first football games between these clubs (formed in 1906) took place. It was here that the townspeople watched the pre-war military parades (like the one in 1933 with the participation of Józef Piłsudski). The Błonia were also witness to the meetings with Pope John Paul II during pilgrimage to his homeland.

Speaking of the Norbertines it is worth mentioning the twelfth-century convent of the nuns in Salwator that overlooks the Vistula River. In days of old, this place was located outside the city, so the monastery was destroyed by the invaders. The last great reconstruction took place in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the current design of the temple derives mainly from the eighteenth century. It is worth noticing that it is here, in the Norbertine Nuns’ Monastery, that each year on Corpus Christi Thursday, the Lajkonik (person dressed as a Tartar riding a wooden horse) embarks on his frolics thus commemorating the years during which Kraków had to defend itself against the Tartars.

Also in Salwator, just slightly above the monastery, there is the Church of the Holy Saviour (Kościół Najświętszego Salwatora) the 12th-century fragments of which and a Romanesque chancel are well-preserved until this day. Walking even higher up, we reach the Kościuszko Mound (Kopiec Kościuszki), one of the symbols of the city of Kraków, which offers a magnificent view of the city. This mound (one of four in Kraków) was erected by the Poles, in the years 1820-1823, in memory of the national hero – Tadeusz Kościuszko.

Friday, 18th October 2019
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