Monument to Mayor Juliusz Leo

Nadwiślańska, Kraków


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Where Józefińska and Nadwiślańska streets meet in Podgórze, close to the Father Laetus Bernatek Footbridge, there stands a monument commemorating one of the most eminent mayors of Kraków: Juliusz Leo. The location is not a coincidence as it symbolises the merging of Podgórze and Kraków over a hundred years ago.

Juliusz Leo (1861–1918) made his way into history books as the mayor of Kraków whose determination and resilience let Kraków expand its borders, greatly helping the city to develop. Having taken the helm as the city’s mayor in 1904, he embarked on the implementation of his vision of a so-called Greater Kraków. In its wake, a number of nearby villages were incorporated into the city in 1910–15, with Podgórze, previously an independent town, being merged with Kraków in 1915. Leo was three times elected mayor, a function he held for over 13 years. In his term he conducted a range of reforms, including ordering the finances of the city and increasing its revenue, expanding the tram (light railway), municipal water supply, and wastewater networks. Under his lead, Kraków built a new power plant and goods station.

Mayor Juliusz Leo was also involved in work to promote independence. His important initiative was to buy the Royal Castle on Wawel Hill from the Austrians in 1905 and initiate its thorough revival. In this way, he recaptured one of the most important Polish symbols for the nation. As a deputy, Leo represented Polish interests in the Austrian Parliament in Vienna, and after the outbreak of the First World War he obtained permission to set up the Polish legions as part of the Austro-Hungarian army. In response to a motion he put to the City Council of Kraków, they made a huge grant to the Legions. Leo died on 21 February 1918, only months before the proclamation of the free Republic of Poland.

Nadwiślańska, Kraków
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