Zakrzowek and Twardowsky Rocks
Zakrzowek is one of the most beautiful sites used by divers in Poland, and the rocks surrounding it offer a wonderful panorama of Krakow. The water reservoir in Zakrzowek came into being in 1990, after a limestone quarry began to fill with water. Situated south-west of the city center, it consists of two basins between an isthmus. Its banks are one of the favorite leisure spots of locals, nonetheless bathing is forbidden in its waters, which are only made available for divers. At depths ranging from 7 to 21 m (23 to 70 ft) you can see among others, a Fiat 125, a bus, a van, boats, and a former workers’ dressing room.
Clusters of boulders and rocky cliffs, known as Twardowsky Rocks, intensively exploited by Krakow climbers and sailors, surround the reservoir. Plenty of climbing routes furnished with established anchors have been staked out here. The place is frequently visited by walkers and bikers who prefer wildlife to asphalt paths.
Standing tall in the southern part of Kraków, this limestone hill is a picturesque place brimming with secrets, which has not yet been engulfed by civilisation. The very geological structure has always provided an extraordinary backdrop for the place, and one of the versions of the legends has the sorcerer Twardowski running his famous studio of magic here.
The complex of limestone rocks known as Krzemionki dominates the landscape of the Podgórze district, reaching nearly 270 m (885 ft) at its highest point. In 1896 a landscape park opened in the former stone quarry, to be later named after the main initiator of its construction, Wojciech Bednarski. Unfortunately, the intensifying traffic forced the construction of the multilane al. Powstańców Śląskich (1977–78), which bisected Krzemionki (later reconnected with a foot and cycle bridge). The picturesque King (or Prince) Krak (or Krakus) Mound, which commands an unbroken view over Wawel Hill, the Church “on the Rock”, and plenty of other historical architecture of Kraków on one side, while the other boasts the church and fort of St Benedict, and a beautiful, somewhat wild meadow. A peculiarity of the thoroughfare from the side of the fort is a mural from 2007 commemorating the 750th anniversary of the chartering the city.
The greatest necropolis of Kraków and the oldest municipal cemetery was set up early in the 19th century to replace parish cemeteries. It quickly became a symbolic space filled with masterpieces of funerary architecture and sculpture.
Its oldest section was designed in the form of a park with the chapel standing in the central point, and the lanes behind it were arranged into semicircles. This symbolic design resembling a gate was to reflect the mystery of passing through the pearly gates to the promised land.
The oldest graves and plaques marking the first burials – including the one of Apolonia Bursikowa, a young townswoman of Kraków, who died of tuberculosis and was the first to be buried here – stand along the wall to the left from the main entrance. Following the main lane, you reach the grave of Jan Matejko, an eminent painter, a representative of historicism, whose paintings portrayed the most important events in the history of Poland. Further, the lane will lead you to the grave of an actress recognised on both sides of the Atlantic – Helena Modrzejewska (Modjeska). The oldest section of the cemetery also includes outstanding sculptures, including the Angel of Vengeance (devoted to the victims of the shelling of Kraków by Austrians in 1848) and a heartrending figure of a woman in mourning on the grave of the Falter family. An extraordinary example of funerary art, making a reference to The Dead Class, presenting a boy reading a book in a school bench, is a work of Tadeusz Kantor, painter, set designer, director, and creator of the Cricot 2 Theatre. He designed it for himself (quarter LXXII). Also worth visiting is quarter LXIX with a true pantheon of contemporary Polish culture. Here you can find the graves of the painter Jerzy Nowosielski, the founder of the Vaults under Rams (Piwnica pod Baranami) cabaret Piotr Skrzynecki, and poet and songwriter Marek Grechuta. A modest grave standing far away from the representative parts of the cemetery is the last resting place of a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wisława Szymborska, who always shied away from the hullabaloo surrounding honours.
The grave of Karol, Emilia, and Edmund Wojtyła – situated in the section of the cemetery entered from Prandoty Street (quarter VI) is the destination of many pilgrimages. This part of the necropolis is known as the military cemetery, as originally soldiers were buried here. Resting in peace in separate quarters are the veterans of the January Rising (1863–65), the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian armies killed in the First World War, the British, Soviet, American, and German soldiers killed in the Second World War, and last but certainly not least, the soldiers of the Polish Army.