Sunday, March 12, 2017

Poland Diaries - Day 4 & Day 5 (Weekend fun) - Part 3

After a heavy breakfast, the husband and I checked out of the Monopol. With some help of google maps, we figured that the number 17 tram from Opera can go to Racławice Panorama. After getting down from the tram stop pl Nowy Targ, we walked a bit inside the road and we could see the Rotunda from a distance - a purpose built exhibition room devoted to present the painting showing the battle of Racławice.

The idea came from the painter Jan Styka in Lwów in order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the victorious Battle of Racławice, a famous episode of the Kościuszko Insurrection, a heroic but in the end fallen attempt to defend Polish independence. The battle was fought on 4 April 1794 between the insurrectionist force of peasant volunteers under Kościuszko and the Russian army commanded by General Tormasov. After World War II, the painting was brought to Wrocław. Under the Communist regime, the subject was considered politically sensitive and the efforts to have the canvas restored and exhibited were successful only after August 1980. 

The concept is very unique, the painting is 360 degrees and you start at one point moving left as the commentary elucidates the course of the battle, one scene after another and enlivened by the lighting of the diodes in appropriate sections of the battlefield. The presentation helps the viewer confront the artistic vision of Kossak and Styka with historical reality.

It was extremely cold and it had started to rain however I insisted that we walk back to the market square assuming it is not that far. We walked along the Odra river and I saw a frozen river for the first time in my life - the swans had settled on the layer of ice and the ferry's had been put to a halt. On the river banks, we met the dwarf ParczekM who is sitting on the excavator.

Maybe it was the cold or maybe I had a lot of energy from the heavy morning breakfast, but very soon we were at the the University square again. The magnificent Baroque architecture of the main building was damaged in WWII and was not only a makeshift headquarter for Nazis but also suffered heavy bombing. At the end of the war, the German faculty were exiled and replacement professors were brought from Lwów. The past professors of the university include Alois Alzheimer (the man who gave his name to the disease) and Robert Bunsen (who didn’t invent the Bunsen burner but improved it to such a degree that it was named in his honour). Since the start of the 20th century, the university has produced a remarkable 9 Nobel Prize winners and today over 40,000 students are enrolled with 9,000 graduating each year.

The tickets are available for 2,3 or 4 rooms along with the mathematical tower and audio guides are available in each room in many languages. The first room we visited was the Music Hall. As with the case of the overall building, the music hall suffered serious damage. In 1997, with only minor modifications, the hall's architecture and the decoration has been reconstructed and the original pipe organ has been renovated and installed.

Next stop was the room - Aula Leopoldina. In true Baroque style, the ceremonial hall is a must visit in the building. In the center of the podium sculpture is Leopold I on the throne. Beside him are personifications: Prudence (old man with a mirror) and thrift (woman with a behive). Under the emperor are Dispute (a woman with her hair in disarray) and Stupidity. The painting on the ceiling depicts the apotheosis of God's wisdom - the source of all knowledge and the personification of contemporary sciences and arts. The portraits ringing the walls depict the founding fathers of the University. 

Winding upstairs, the visit to the museum ends on the terrace of the university's 'Mathematical Tower' which affords great photo opportunities and panoramic views of the Old Town and Odra River. 

As we were walking back, we stopped on the way to have a doughnut from Stara Pączkarnia which apparently seemed very popular looking at the length of the queue. Further down the Kuźnicza street, near the ATM, we saw three dwarfs at work - Bankomatnik, Pinek and Chipuś who are busy repairing the ATM.

The entire street has several dwarfs like the Janinek - Dwarf looking at himself in the mirror after coming out from the salon and Pierożnik - who sits in front of the restaurant eating Pierogi. Enjoying the line of dwarfs, we are at the market square where I notice another dwarf - Piwosz z Psem who is having a merry time drinking beer outside a club.

At the market square, a young girl is using large hoops held between two sticks, dipping them in a bucket of soapy water and creating huge soap bubbles, so huge that you could see the entire reflection of the town hall in it. Small children on the square were running behind the bubble and she was kindly obliging them by creating more bubbles to run after. We spent a good time just enjoying the scenery and burst a few ourselves - little things in life that give happiness.

We wanted to take a walking tour in the afternoon for the Jewish quarter so we decided to head back to Bar Vega, only this time we sat upstairs which is more like a restaurant and ordered using a menu in english. The potato pancakes were delicious and we rushed to the meeting point for the walking tour. We missed the introduction but were a bit confused as we were expecting to see the tour guide from yesterday for the 'Communism tour'. Whilst the tour guide seemed very enthusiastic about this tour, it wasn't of much interest to us so after a good twenty minutes in the tour, we mustered the courage to tell the tour guide that we were leaving this tour and excused ourselves back to the market square.

Nevertheless, we spotted some more dwarves on the way before we left the tour. At the St Elizabeths church we see Strażak (Firefighters), Pożarek  - The day St Elizabeths church was engulfed in fire, the dwarves showed a lot of courage. The Pożarki firebrigade duo was the first to arrive at the scene and joined the rescue operation.

śpioch (sleepy) - He cares for nothing more than lounging and he snores so loud that the enemies are scared of him. For his military merits, he has been given the position of guarding the entrance to the Underground city of Dwarfs

Ogorzałek and Opiłek are both fond of the restaurant outside which they stand.

The Weteran (The veteran) He appeared during the celebrations for the Veteran's day.

At the end of the road is Ziołek - The Herbalist - he goes around the town to enhance its collection of herbs. Working with Herbapol Wrocław, he prepares medicine and infusions for special orders

After leaving the tour, within no time we were back at the square and were now confronted with a difficult question on what to do for the rest of the day as we hadn't planned for this downtime. We sought the help of the tourist information centre and after much discussion on whether to do a half day trip outside Wroclaw, we decided to do the Hala Stulecia or the Centennial Hall. Several trams can take you from Swidnica to the Centennial Hall. The tram route went through Plac Grunwaldzki so I could also show my office building to the husband.

The Centennial Hall is a historic building in Wroclaw and constructed according to the plans of Max Berg. The cupola was made of reinforced concrete, and with an inner diameter of 69 m and is 42 m high. It was the largest building of its kind at the time of construction. The symmetrical quatrefoil shape with a large circular central space seats 7,000 persons. 

It was in the on 10 March 1813 where King Frederick William III of Prussia called upon the Prussian and German people in his proclamation to rise up against Napoleon's occupation. In this proclamation he created the award of the Iron Cross, which features in the architecture of this structure. In October of that year, Napoleon was defeated. The opening of the hall was part of the celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the battle, hence the name and was largely spared from the devastation during the Siege of Wroclaw

It was time to shift to Double Tree again, so we picked up the luggage and took the 17 number tram from Opera to Galeria Domińikanska. The booking was obviously under my name and the girl on the reception desk immediately recognized me from two days ago. We created a bit of strategy, the husband would stand outside while I checked in, and would casually walk in as if he had come to meet me, similar to what we did at Monopol. Now I dont think it was really necessary but we were in no mood to give any explanations on additional people on the booking so we did exactly what we had planned.

The room was even better than the last time and after settling down and charging our cellphones, we left for the market square again. We went straight to Kawiarnia Literatka to try our luck again and this time it seemed a bit empty being a sunday evening. We sat down at the bar and the bartender gave us abundant knowledge of the different flavours of vodka. After that, we walked to Piec Na Szewskiej and stuffed ourselves with amazing pizza.


Vivek Garud said...

missed part 1 and 2... lovely write up... keep it up..

Vivek Garud said...

fantastic. keep it up. any cultural shows..dramas..Broadway?
i had seen Warsaw in many polish movies of our film society...what about memories of WW 2.


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