A painting of horses.

After visiting St. Mary’s Basilica, I made my way to the second floor of the Rynek’s Cloth Hall, where the 19th Century Polish Art Gallery is housed. Given the usual size of museums, I was surprised to find that the Gallery consisted of only 4 large rooms. Small in size however did not mean small in quality. There were several interesting paintings on display but my favorite by far was a piece called Czwórka (Four-in-Hand) by Chelmonski from 1881. The painting consists of a carriage being pulled forward by four massive horses, who literally appear to be running straight towards the viewer right out of the frame.

The artist did such a good job of making all other details fade away besides the look of fear in the horses eyes it’s as though you can feel their sense of urgency as they rush forward to avoid the whip of the carriage master. I like the painting so much I bought a magnet of it from the museum gift shop. Wondering what it looks like? The museum allows photos so I took one for you – although not as good as standing in front of the painting, you get the idea…

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Before leaving the Gallery, I stopped for a coffee on the cafe balcony overlooking Rynek Square towards St. Mary’s. Flower vendors gather there with assortments of bouquets for sale. The bright yellows and pinks and oranges really bring color to the square. I next headed to the other old church on the square – St. Adalbert’s, which is actually the oldest church in all of Krakow. The entire Rynek is laid out in an orderly fashion except for this church because it’s foundations date all the way back to the 11th century, older than the Cloth Market and surrounding buildings. Not much attention is paid to this little church, as most people hurry to see St. Mary’s Basilica. St. Adalbert’s is worth a quick look in the basement however. An admission charge of about $1 gets you access to go underground where you can see the oldest remnants of the church as well as an interesting soil display of how the Rynek today exists at least 10 feet higher than the Rynek of the 11th century. As you can imagine, a square filled with so much history certainly deserves a museum of its own to explain how it has evolved and changed over centuries of inhabitants. In 2010, Krakow Underground opened underneath the Cloth Hall to tell the stories of the people who lived and worked in the Rynek area throughout time. The museum is extremely high tech and is meant to submerse visitors into a sort of “virtual reality” of what life was like back in the day. The museum only allows 300 visitors per hour, so if you plan to visit, you can buy your ticket a day ahead. I picked up my ticket to visit later in the afternoon, then set out to explore the other nooks and corners of the Rynek. With no specific agenda in hand, but with several local magazines and guidebooks on my Nook, I somehow “stumbled” unto nothing less but a feminist gallery exhibit – smack in the middle of Krakow.

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One thought on “A painting of horses.

  1. Great that you had time to visit the gallery in Sukiennice. Chełmoński is one of my favourite painters. As to St. Adalbert’s Church, it’s even older: 10th century!

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