Another … church in Poland

I am often asked why most of the Polish tours have at least one church in the itinerary… Sometimes it is describeb with an expression: “ABC” (another… church).

Before any explanation WHY another church – enjoy a short visit to the splendid ST. ANNE’S in Cracow, which is one of Europe’s outstanding examples of baroque.  🙂

And now – here is some explanation:

In Poland – so dreadfully destroyed during the last great military conflict which was the Second World War – sometimes the only REAL art is located only in churches. It is worth remembering that a great lot of the splendid art that Poland was furnished with – was simply STOLEN by both armies (first the German and then Red Army). Earlier in the history there was a Polish-Swedish military conflict, which resulted in a great Polish loss of art as well as architecture (just to mention the Krzyztopor castle in Ujazd) and what should be NOT forgotten – is the Napoleonic period – which also resulted in plundering and destruction of Polish art and goods.

After WW II that art that was luckily found or (more rarely) claimed – was placed in museums. Unfortunately many Polish museums still do not have the knowledge of how to display the possessed art. Besides – not everybody likes (or has time enough) to visit museums. Another thing is that Polish museums still do not have the opinion or reputation as (for example) the Rijksmuseum has.

Another thing is – that most of the foreign visitors think Poland still is a country far, far behind the world. Common opinion says that visiting the museums in Russia, or Western Europe gives more art reflection. Yes it does – but among their exhibitions – there are many pieces that come from Poland. Think of it when you stand in front of a wonderful huge Beer Mug with coins  in the Louvre. Do remember please, that it was made in Gdansk :), not to speak of a variety of art held in the Hermitage.

However church visiting is not only a Polish speciality. During my visit in Prague, we were rushed through nearly all the city’s churches, starting with St. Vitus Cathedral. In Rome, the sightseeing also starts with significant churches of the Eternal City (not to mention a special church to all the Catholics and art lovers – the St. Peter’s Basilica)

Also for a better understanding – please read the below fragment from The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo… Very beautifully it explains WHY are the churches so important in and to Europe 🙂

Thought was then free only in this manner; hence it never wrote itself out completely except on the books called edifices.  Having thus only this resource, masonry, in order to make its way to the light, flung itself upon it from all quarters. Hence the immense quantity of cathedrals which have covered Europe–a number so prodigious that one can hardly believe it even after having verified it. All the material forces, all the intellectual forces of society converged towards the same point: architecture. In this manner, under the pretext of building churches to God, art was developed in its magnificent proportions.Then whoever was born a poet became an architect. Genius, scattered in the masses, repressed in every quarter under feudalism, finding no issue except in the direction of architecture,–gushed forth through that art, and its Iliads assumed the form of cathedrals. All other arts obeyed, and placed themselves under the discipline of architecture. They were the workmen of the great work. The architect, the poet, the master, summed up in his person the sculpture which carved his façades, painting which illuminated his windows, music which set his bells to pealing, and breathed into his organs.Architecture was, down to the fifteenth century, the chief register of humanity; up until that interval not a thought which is in any degree  complicated made its appearance in the world, which has not been worked into an edifice; that every popular idea, and every religious law, has had its monumental records; that the human race has, in short, had no important thought which it has not written in stone. And why? Because every thought, either philosophical or religious, is interested in perpetuating itself; because the idea which has moved one generation wishes to move others also, and leave a trace. Now, what a precarious immortality is that of the manuscript! How much more solid, durable, unyielding, is a book of stone! In order to destroy the written word, a torch and a Turk are sufficient. To demolish the constructed word, a social revolution, a terrestrial revolution are required. The barbarians passed over the Coliseum; the deluge, perhaps, passed over the Pyramids.In the fifteenth century everything changes.Human thought discovers a mode of perpetuating itself, not only more durable and more resisting than architecture, but still more simple and easy. Architecture is dethroned. Gutenberg’s letters of lead are about to supersede Orpheus’s letters of stone.

Published in: on 31/12/2013 at 18:54  Comments (2)  
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At leisure – a bit of Chełmno (Culm) and Torun at dusk

Day off…

I learned to cherish each day off like the best delicacy. Especially, as my season seems to be a very long one – with the end in January. Well… we had a day off at the same time, and almost in the same company.  So we started off in the morning. It means – well after 9:00 a.m. we finally decided to move.

Our aim was Torun (Thorn), with a short stop in Chełmno (Culm) on our way. Unfortunately the days are getting shorter (thanks to the stupid time change, giving nothing but earlier darkness), and additionally – because we did not take the highway – in Chełmno we had time only to visit the High Church of the town (popularly called the… St. Mary’s). The reason for it was the lack of time on the way to Torun. As Torun was our day’s target.

But, it doesn’t mean we did not have time to drop in for a tasty chocolate cake and a delicious apple pie in Vanilla Cafe (just upstairs of the flower shop in the center of the town). It seems we did not lack the time for this.

However, Chełmno is a town for a whole day’s visit. For one can’t just walk past the details on the buildings, which although still awaiting better times – retained their charm. How not to sink in the soothing silence of the town’s churches, or how not to walk down the streets – yearning for the good old long gone times of the gossip on the thresholds… So we shall return to Chełmno in spring, when there will be neither itching chill of the wind, nor the drizzle, successfully discouraging to hunt for a good camera shot.

So – promising ourselves a longer spring visit, we finally took off for Torun.

And when we got there… Well, as always – we walked without a rush, and in fact without any purpose. As it is so difficult to decide what to touch first, what to see first. Should it be the Leaning Tower, or the Saint Johns’ Cathedral, or maybe St. James soaked in the purple light of the setting sun, or maybe should it be rather the Town Hall… Finally – as always, we ended up in St. Mary’s

And then we took a stroll through the streets in the deepening dusk.

However Torun is not only one of Poland’s 14 UNESCO sites, it is not only the place to explore the untouched medieval architecture, or to feel the atmosphere – retained throught the centuries. It is not only the town where the famous Nicolaus Copernicus was born…

Torun is also a place to eat delicious dumplings (pierogi). So to maintain the tradition – we went to the Leniwa restaurant. The dumplings were more than worth a visit.

Honestly I can state, that our Torun visit was without any plan, nor aim. We went there just because we love the city, and have known it for a long time. My long historical family bonds keep me tied to the city very firmly…

So we did not have to see anything in particular, neither we needed to admire anything special, to know we visited a unique place on earth 😉

I managed to take some photos of pretty good sights both in Chełmno and in Torun. And of course, because I forgot the tripod – some of the photos are out of focus… And for this I am sorry. 😉