Kraków may surprise you in many ways! While walking around do you pay attention to monuments and memorials? If not, you should definitely start as it may be more interesting than you think!
1. Wojtek the Soldier Bear in Jordan Park
“He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer – he drank a bottle of beer like any man.” Yep, it’s a bear we’re talking about:) Wojtek was found in Iran in 1942 by Polish soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of Polish II Corps. They were fiding him with condensed milk from… a vodka bottle. He was also fed by fruits, honey and even beer (that became his favourite drink). He enjoyed as well smoking or maybe eating cigarettes.
Bear became a maskot of the team, he was tought to salute and was even driving with soldiers in jeeps. He was a good companion during their journey from Iran to Palestine. During the battle for Monte Casino Wojtek carried boxes of ammunition. Rest of his days he spent in Edinburgh Zoo. The unveiling of his statue took place on the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of the Battle of Monte Cassino.
2. ‘Eros Bound’ on the Main Square
Ever wondered what does the lying head represent in the Main Square? It is a sculpture called “Eros Bound” created by Polish artist Igor Mitoraj. His pieces often refer to mythology heroes and classic ancient monuments but with an emphasis on their human nature.
3. ‘Zak’ at St Mary’s Square
It was erected in 1958 by Jan Budziłło as a tribute to Wit Stwosz – artist and designer of the famous alter in St, Marie’s Church nearby. Guy sitting on the fontain is simply a student (former ‘żak’:) The legend says if you throw a coin to the fountain you will come back to Kraków in the future!
4. Dzok monument on Vistula Boulevards
Dzok monument is placed on the boulevards between the Wawel Hill and the Vistula river, nearby the Dragon’s Den. It was created by the famous sculptor Bronisław Chromy in 2001. Dog was a happy animal until one day when he was left tragically orphaned in 1990 after his owner had a heart attack in his car. Left behind when his master was taken away in an ambulance, Dżok waited patiently for his friend to return for a year before finally going to live with a lady who used to come and feed him. After this kind lady also died in 1998 poor Dżok was orphaned again and taken to a local dog hostel, from where he escaped on his second day of captivity and was swiftly run over by a train.
The Dzok Dog symbolises dog’s loyalty and devotion and a sculpture of Dżok was unveiled only a short walk from Wawel at Bulwar Czerwieński close to where his original master passed away, with an inscription reading “Most faithful canine friend ever, and symbol of a dog’s boundless devotion to his master.”
5. The Wawel Dragon is a famous dragon in Polish folklore. Standing on the Wisła riverbank in the shade of Wawel Castle is a rather ugly likeness of the Wawel Dragon who according to local legend once reposed in the large cave behind him between terrorising virgins and eating sheep. It’s worth to see it while being in Krakow! The statue even gasps with fire every few minutes 🙂