Planty Garden Ring
The favourite destination of locals taking a walk, and a true adornment to the city. There is no other city in Poland that can boast a similar park. It encircles the entire historical city centre with a golden ring, which is why it’s poetic name is that of a green jewelled necklace around the neck of the city.
The Planty takes its name from the verb “to plant” (in the sense of “to flatten”) as it was designed early in the 19th century to replace the medieval fortifications that had been falling gradually into ruin since the end of the 18th century. Not only the condition of the structures but the sanitary conditions (the moats, which were brimming with filth, became hotbeds of disease) as well prompted the city councillors to rule in favour of their liquidation. Fragments of the walls were retained together with St Florian’s Tower and the Barbican. A few years later, the decision to replace the destroyed fortifications with a municipal garden was reached. The main author of the concept of the Planty Garden Ring was Feliks Radwański. His idea and project were taken up by Florian Straszewski, who is commemorated in the name of one of the nearby streets. The land was planted and dried, the moats were filled in, alleys were staked out, and spaces between them turned into lawns. Trees were planted, and fences painted into white and light blue (the colours of the city) stripes were installed.
In the 19th century, numerous squares, fountains and ponds were laid out in the Planty together with flower beds and hedges, and even exotic plants: agaves, palms. and dragon trees. An important thread was the tradition of building monuments to commemorate Polish artists, people who rendered great services to the city, and even literary heroes. Many benches and bowers were built, and so were kiosks that sold sweets and soda water. Three of them have been retained: at the mouths of Szewska and Sławkowska streets, and near the Słowacki Theatre (today an InfoKraków City Information Network point). Around that time the Planty received its lighting: originally the sources of light were gas lamps situated centrally in the main alley.
Today, the Planty Garden Ring is divided into eight gardens stretching along approximately 4 km (2.5 miles), covering the area of 21 ha (52 acres), which makes them Kraków’s largest city park. Within it, you can admire 40 tree and shrub species, with specimens including monuments of nature: for example, the 130-year-old plantain at the mouth of Wiślna Street.
Chief built heritage by the Planty:
- the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre
- the Barbican
- St Florian’s Gate
- Church of the Reformed Franciscans
- Palace of Art
- Collegiate Church of St Anne
- Palace of the Bishops of Kraków
- Dominican Church
- Franciscan Church
- Church of the Holy Cross
Highlights of the Planty:
- Monument to Nicolas Copernicus
location: mouth of Gołębia Street
Built early in the 20th century, it initially graced the quadrangle of the Collegium Maius. Initially designed as a fountain, as attested by the culverts at the bottom of the plint
- The Lantern of the Dead
location: mouth of Św. Sebastiana Street
The Chapel of St Gertrude dates back to the mid-17th century and was most probably built by the non-extant Church of St Sebastian, by which a hospital for venereal patients operated. The lanterns of the dead were built especially for nocturnal travellers: the light warned you in darkness that you were approaching a place connected with death, perhaps a hospital, a church or a cemetery.
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