Floriańska Street

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Floriańska , Kraków

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Floriańska has always been one of Kraków’s most important streets.

Floriańska has always been one of Kraków’s most important streets. Laid out at the time of the Great Charter of Kraków in the latter half of the 13th century, it has been an important fragment of the elegant road – the Royal Route – leading from the church of St Florian (hence the name of the street), to Wawel. It was one of the city’s first streets to receive proper cobbles, and towards the end of the 15th century, hardly any of the houses lining Floriańska were wooden.

Even though most of the houses standing here have been rebuilt (especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries), many details testifying to the earlier, frequently mediaeval origin have been preserved. Especially worthy of note are the houses at No. 3 with its interesting Renaissance portal, Nos 5 and 8 with late Gothic portals, No. 7 with an early Renaissance figure of Our Lady and portals in the same style, Nos 9 and 26 with Renaissance portals, and No. 17, whose façade bears a fragment of the chain formerly used to bar access to the street at night.

The house at No. 14 houses the city’s oldest hotel, the “Pod Różą”, established around 1800. It was initially called the “de Russie”, i.e. Russian Hotel, to commemorate the visit of the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia and Tzar Alexander I. Besides these two, Franz Liszt also stayed here during his sojourn in Kraków. Interestingly, the information on the memorial plaque stating that Honoré de Balzac stayed here is not true. The great French writer preferred to stay in a cheaper inn in Stradom. Although the building of the hotel dates back to the 14th century, it underwent numerous reconstructions. Its front is decorated with a late Renaissance portal of rare beauty, featuring a magnificent Latin inscription wishing that the house continue to stand “Until the ant has drunk all the waters of the sea and the turtle has walked all around the world”.

The narrow house at No. 41 is the former House of Jan Matejko (1837-1893), where the artist was born and died. Today, it is a museum devoted to the most eminent Polish historical painter and his talents. The exhibition includes personal items, documents, photographs and gold objects from the artist’s collection as well as numerous paintings, sketches, and a collection of militaria. A very special feature of the collection is the set of torturer’s tools from the dungeons of Kraków’s City Hall. Designed by Tomasz Pryliński, the façade of the building (1873) is an example of neo-baroque architecture, quite rare in Kraków.

Poland’s largest Museum of Pharmacy, run by the Jagiellonian University – one of the few of its kind in the world – is situated in the house at No. 25. Established in 1946 by Stanisław Proń, a lawyer and collector hailing from a family of Kraków pharmacists, it has gathered together exhibits from 1200 pharmacies from all over Poland. The exhibition rooms recreate historical pharmacy interiors from the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as pharmacies in empire, Biedermeier, neo-classicist, and neo-baroque styles. The study of the inventor of the paraffin lamp, the pharmacist Ignacy Łukasiewicz, is recreated in one of the rooms and there is also a collection of 19th-century lamps in the museum.

The house at No. 45 is strongly associated with Jan Michalik, a confectioner who arrived here from Lemberg (today’s Lviv in Ukraine) and opened the Cukiernia Lwowska [literally: Lemberg Confectioners]. In the years 1905-1912 it became the stage for Poland’s first literary and artistic cabaret “Zielony Balonik”, literally “the little green balloon”, established by Kraków artists and men of letters connected to the Młoda Polska (Young Poland) movement, whose number included Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, Jan August Kisielewski, and Teofil Trzciński. Because the rooms of the confectioner’s have no windows, the artists called it “Jama Michalika – Michalik’s Den”, a name it uses to this day. The walls of the café are still decorated with paintings made to the design of Karol Frycz, and drawings and caricatures by the Młoda Polska – Young Poland artists. Marionettes used in satirical political plays based on nativity scenes that the cabaret performed are exhibited in the cabinets.

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Date: 2012-04-02 Show ticket
News author: ANNA WAŚKOWSKA
News Publisher: Redakcja MPI
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