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Krakรณw & Maล‚opolska 

locations guide

This is where we are located, and this is where we welcome you:

Kraków is the main city of Małopolska lying in the very south of Poland, a country situated in the heart of Europe.

Poland Kraków Małopolska

30% cash rebate for filmmakers in Poland 2


The Małopolska Region prides itself in its unique combination of material culture and natural environment: the large number of preserved heritage sites in the cities but also the woods, rivers, mountains, and lakes (and a desert!) form a perfect traditional culturescape. ↘↘ Such merits have been sufficient to have Małopolska’s heritage inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List six times at several locations: ©© Historic Centre of Kraków (including Kazimierz) ©© Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines (with the Wieliczka Saltworks Castle) ©© Auschwitz Birkenau: German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940–1945) ©© Kalwaria Zebrzydowska: Mannerist Architectural and Park Landscape Complex and Pilgrimage Park ©© Wooden Churches of Southern Małopolska (Binarowa, Dębno Podhalańskie, Lipnica Murowana, Sękowa) ©© Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region (in Małopolska: Powroźnik, Owczary, Kwiatoń, Brunary Wyżne)



owczary Auschwitz Birkenau


Kalwaria Zebrzydowska




Kraków Małopolska

SĘKOWA Brunary Wyżne Dębno Podhalańskie

KWIATOŃ krynica powroźnik


Slovakia III



↘↘ One of Poland’s smallest administrative regions (15,108 square kilometres; 5,833 sq. mi), it boasts a total population of over 3.3 million: a number equal to that of the foreign tourists (14.5 million total) visiting it each year. ↘↘ The Royal Capital City of Kraków is the capital of Małopolska. A city of culture (museums, galleries, art house cinemas) and innovation, it has the second largest student population in Poland. ↘↘ The region is easily accessible by air (besides Kraków Balice Airport offering over 40 regular direct connections to Europe, America and Asia and convenient bus and shuttle train links to Kraków, there are Katowice Pyrzowice and Rzeszów Jasionka airports which have motorway links), as well as links by car and rail. It also offers plentiful accommodation in all standards.


Krakow Film Commission: this is who we are The Krakow Film Commission, a special branch of the Krakow Festival Office (KBF), can bring the desired locations in the city and region into a movie, providing support during film production and on the set. Even more so as we are the operator of the Krakow Regional Film Fund (RFF), to which you can also apply


for financial support. As such, we assist in securing rights to locations and streamlining cooperation with city services, manage a rich database of specialist companies in the region and continually update the database of locations in Kraków and Małopolska. Another

Kraków Małopolska

benefit of the Krakow Film Commission is the possibility of getting financial support for film productions through the Krakow Regional Film Fund that we have operated since 2009.




Krakow Regional Film Fund: this is what we have for you A tool for co-financing film productions, the Krakow Regional Film Fund, is financed by the City of Kraków and Małopolska Region. Its mission is to leverage the development of the local film industry by increasing film production and film-related expenditure in the region.

The Krakow Regional Film Fund (RFF) was launched in 2009; organisation-wise, it is part of the Krakow Festival Office (KBF). The goal of the fund is to provide financial support to film productions connected with Kraków and the Małopolska Region, and thus also to the city’s and the region’s tourist and economic promotion. Every year, competitive awards of assets from the fund are made to support film production.


↘↘ The Krakow RFF has to date supported more than 45 co-productions: documentaries, animated, and feature films. ↘↘ Support is granted to Polish productions and international co-productions alike. ↘↘ A call for submissions is announced in the first quarter of each year. ↘↘ Having received our funding, you are obliged to spend 150% of its value in the region. ↘↘ You don’t even need a business address in Małopolska to apply to the Krakow RFF: it is the spending in the locality


that counts, and not where you come from. ↘↘ We run a database with dozens of contacts to experts in an array of fields in the audio and video sector, ranging from

Kraków Małopolska

script consultants to sound engineers. Let us know who you need or have a look at the database on our website. ↘↘ We work closely with key local partners, including: ©© the Animated Film Studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, offering skills and practical experience, as well as digital and video tools, in different manual and digital processes throughout the animated film production process, from concept development, via script writing, storyboarding, shooting script preparation, animatics, set building, animation, layout, shooting, image editing, sound editing, soundtrack production, VII



to postproduction FX for the entire range of animated 2D and 3D film making; ŠŠ Multilab: postproduction film studio, running full DI process from conforming to deliverables and offering a green screen studio, cinema hall, workstations, and editing room rental services.


Krakow Festival Office The Krakow Festival Office (KBF) is the organiser of key cultural events in the city, including festivals covering music from early, to contemporary, jazz, ethno and of course film. The Krakow Film Music Festival is one of the most important events of its kind in the world. The KBF also manages the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature programme with the Conrad Festival and is operator of the ICE Kraków Congress Centre and the tourist


information network InfoKraków.

Kraków ↘↘ In 2018 alone, the events KBF organised attracted over


625.000 participants. ↘↘ The impressive record for 2018 included 510 celebrations, ranging from grand galas to comfortably informal merrymaking that lasted for a total of 365 days, making it a true all-year-round festivity with nearly 1.4 events being held each day.




Film festivals in Kraków: this is what film is known for locally In over ten years on the stage, the Krakow Film Music Festival (FMF) has garnered worldwide acclaim for its production, accomplishment and enthusiasm, and has earned the sobriquet the “Cannes of film music” among our guests from Hollywood. It is open to mainstream as well as experimental music, also from Polish and European cinema, at the same time continuing to honour established composers. It’s unique character stems from the combination of the highest quality interpretation of film music performed by artists and orchestras of the highest standard against high-quality moving pictures. The FMF has no paragon in Europe and attracts the contemporary elite of the world of music, culture, and film, as well as video games and film aficionados. Composers brought the world premieres of many pieces of film music to the FMF, often to be performed in the presence of world class directors. ↘↘ When heavy rains meant that the main event of the Film Music Festival could not be held on the open Błonia Common in the centre of the city in 2009, the organisers (Krakow Film Commission included) succeeded in moving it to the ArcelorMittal tinning plant in under 72 hours! This unbelievable project included obtaining all the permits, building a stage, X

moving seats for 5000 people, organising transport, and importing another screen, as the original one was damaged by the winds and rain. ↘↘ The greatest film music composers at the FMF have so far included Oscar-winning Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, Dario Marianelli, Elliot Goldenthal, Tan Dun and Jan AP Kaczmarek, as well as Joe Hisaishi, Shigeru Umebayashi, Don Davis, Alberto Iglesias, Trevor Morris, Patrick Doyle, Garry Schyman, Wojciech Kilar, Abel Korzeniowski, Reinhold Heil, John-


ny Klimek, and Eric Serra. In turn, the OFF Camera Festival, a trailblazer in the world of festivals, honours artists speaking with their own voice and embarking on subjects that spark reflection and make ripples

Kraków Małopolska

in the world. Its philosophy is strongly aligned with the genius loci of Kraków. It shows that differences may not only divide but also bring together and inspire action. It not only attracts independent filmmakers through the atmosphere in the variety of events it encompasses, but also attracts them to the Krakow Film Awards of USD 300,000 and USD 100,000 that help to bring more films to the silver screen and which frequently show how attractive are the film sets that can be found in Poland. It features the OFF Camera Pro Industry: a space for active networking and development, and an opportunity for Polish actors to work with Hollywood casting directors. XI



One of the world’s vital locations for documentary, animated, and short films to meet, the Krakow Film Festival (KFF), organised since 1960, has brought up generations of film lovers, and, besides its meetings, runs workshops and exhibitions and involves the screening of around 250 Polish and foreign films. One of the oldest such festivals, it is full of youthful verve and is attractive to film aficionados and professionals alike. In its initial decades, it was an opportunity to take a peek at the non-communist world, it survived censorship and threats to be disbanded. Now it remains the mainstay of intriguing, ambitious productions, usually from outside the mainstream.


Poland Krakรณw Maล‚opolska



Film festivals in Krakรณw: This is what film is known for locally



Our selected projects: this is what we have done so far

In the last 10 years, Krakow Film Commission and Fund have been constantly involved in the production of successful films in our city and region. As a picture tells 1000 words, it’s perhaps best to use images to describe our moving pictures. Demon, dir. by Marcin Wrona

The Mighty Angel, dir. by Wojtek Smarzowski

Coach’s Daughter, dir. by Łukasz Grzegorzek

Clergy, dir. by Wojtek Smarzowski

Mr. Jones, dir. by Agnieszka Holland

The Hoax, dir. by Jacek Koprowicz



Manhunt, dir. by Marcin Krzyształowicz

The Red Spider, dir. by Marcin Koszałka

The Magic Mountain, dir. by Anca Damian

All About My Parents, dir. by Marcin Krzyształowicz

Marie Curie: The Courage of the Knowledge, dir. by Marie NoĂŤlle

Entanglement, dir. by Jacek Bromski

Mug, dir. by Małgorzata Szumowska

Sleep Darling, dir. by Krzysztof Lang



Imagine the main square of the city. Imagine a place under strict heritage protection. Imagine a place visited by tens of thousands of people every day. Imagine this is just where you have planned a major explosion. Unattainable? Not in Kraków! We did it, or rather, we arranged everything and the crew did it themselves. To the great satisfaction of both parties.

Invitation from Krakow Film Commission ↘↘


A team of people experienced in film strongly versed in local conditions. What more could you hope for?

From the primeval and natural to the

A group of film professionals and enthusiasts

Enjoy the ancient forests, castles, man-

post-industrial. From the ancient and

asked the right question: if we live in such an

sions and manor houses; the expanses of mar-

historical to the modern and innovative

interesting location, why isn’t it cherished daily

ket squares and the narrow streets; pristine

– tell us your ideal solution, and we’ll

by the world’s top cameras? So we banded our-

landscape and amazing mines, mountains and

work out how to make it happen.

selves into the Krakow Film Commission, gath-

rivers, lakes and fields, and even Europe’s only

Kraków, one of the world’s first cities

ered the resources, and gained support from

desert. Our assets, yours as sets.

to begin conscious preservation of its

the relevant authorities. Having acquired con-

material heritage, was entered on the

siderable experience on an array of demand-

original UNESCO World Heritage List.

ing projects, such as period productions Marie

The region of Małopolska boasts six

Noëlle’s Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge,

UNESCO listed sites yet dispersed

Mick Jackson’s Denial and Agnieszka Holland’s

around twelve locations. The landscape

Mr. Jones, and in this way the appreciation of

of the region offers pristine shots thanks

local decision-makers, we turn to you.

to the rigorous landscape protection, covering most of its territory.

To make not only our dreams come true, but also hopefully yours, we give you access to the pride of Poland – Małopolska Region

We’re here to help you. And we will do it in

with the Royal Capital City of Kraków: with

many ways. See this space on the following

us this land of diversity and plenty unspoilt

pages for hints.

vistas is at your fingertips. 8


We have the right resources, know our way through the tangled rules and regulations, and love to show you places with good food and music, help you do your bookings, and, last but not least, get you in touch with the people you need. All you may need when coming to an intended location, whether you are a producer or a location scout.

Comfortable home on the set

Having worked with crews from Hollywood to Bollywood, we know many ways to help you around Małopolska Region. And if we express opinions you don’t share, there’s room for negotiation and coming closest to your point of view.



From boutique and major-chain five-star

For centuries, our region has been home to

and a plethora of places in which to spend your

hotels to cosy budget accommodation,

visitors from many parts of the world. They

free time and enjoy the rich and varied culture

from designer restaurants that Miche-

not only enriched the material culture of

of the city and the region [d Film festivals in

lin takes interest in to popular take-

Kraków and Małopolska Region with architec-

Kraków, p. X].

aways – Kraków and Małopolska have

ture of German, Italian, French, Austrian, and


Jewish pedigree [d Kraków, p. 15], but also left

Besides accommodation and food, we

part of their hearts and minds here. As a place

are proud of the range of artistic events,

on the intersection of major trading routes

large and small, taking place virtually

from south to north, and moreover, lying for

everywhere in the city, all year round.

a millennium on the edge of the Western and Eastern worlds, we have learned how to look after visitors. And in the last thousand years, the visitors coming here and locals alike have left plenty of material heritage for your eyes to enjoy. Not only is accommodation plentiful, responding to your various needs (including five-star hotels, of course), but there is an assortment of all the cuisines of the world, 10





We are local. And love films and making them. This has enabled us to create the most complete database of everything you need to shoot a film in Kraków and the Małopolska Region plus specific knowledge on how to solve potential problems. In the course of past projects, we have worked with decision-makers, the municipal police, firefighters, police, traffic management and other agencies, and we know very well how to ensure that they remain a support rather than an obstacle.


Kraków’s visual variety resembles many of the world’s cities: “the Athens

centre of the world

of the North”, “the pearl of the Renaissance north of the Alps”, “the Polish Rome”: these words of eminent foreign visitors alone attest to Kraków’s splendour. For Poles no proof is necessary.

Unlike many other Polish cities, Kraków for-

the first bourgeoisie, in the Renaissance came

tunately escaped the damages of the world

the Italians with their artists, the 19th century

wars. The Communist legend spoke of a mi-

belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire,

raculous manoeuvre of the Russian general

while Jewish, Armenian, and other merchants

that saved Kraków from destruction. The

from the Orient called Kraków home in Europe

truth was that the river conveniently froze

for many centuries. Even the recent days of

so deeply that Soviet tanks could easily cross

communism, drab and memorable only for the

it, yet earlier the Soviets raided the city from

ragged skyline of concrete jungles elsewhere,

the air. One of the bombs they dropped hit

left Kraków with heritage that is sufficiently

Wawel Castle. The place’s lucky charm meant

special to be deservedly nicknamed the Doge’s

that no harm was done, and the impact only

Palaces [d Communist legacy, p. 55].

“unveiled” old precious paintings, shaking off more recent layers of whitewash.

If everything is here, at arm’s reach, then why look anywhere else…?

The history of the capital that ruled territories reaching across Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea and lying today in 12 countries may be matched only by the multitude of cultures that have influenced and built the city: German and Silesian merchants became 14


Kraków: centre of the world

It is obvious for Poles that Kraków must be the centre of the world. The only controversy is whether




Burial mounds standing 16 metres (50 ft) high (preserved unchanged with

the “hub” is Wawel Hill (maybe

a fair amount of neighbouring ground)

between the Castle and the

dating back to Celtic days [d Architec-

Cathedral), or the Main Market Square.

Settlement beginning in prehistoric

ture – model, though unique, p. 41]


Name of the city first registered by a passing Jewish merchant over 1000 years ago


A number of thriving fortified settlements operating in the 11th century


The Grand Charter of Kraków proclaimed by the duke in 1257


37 kings and queens of Poland crowned in the city ever since


The Royal Capital City of Kraków is second to none for many, many miles around.



Krakรณw: centre of the world

Whether you need cattle or virgins for your picture, we know where to look for them and will gladly oblige.


Wawel Hill. The Castle and Cathedral. Plus 1000 years of history and legend. Dragon included.


↘↘ ↘↘

The essence of Polishness, these sights

A hard-to-access limestone rock in a bend of

are more recognisable among the

the Vistula River provided a perfect base for

38,000,000 of Polish people living in

a settlement, was soon fortified and became

Poland and the millions living beyond its

the seat of power that subjugated many local

borders than Manhattan, the Pyramids,

tribes. A centre of ecclesiastical power devel-

or the Eiffel Tower.

oped here in parallel.

Wawel is believed to be one of the world’s only seven chakras – centres

which is quickly elicited from the general aura,

of energy exuding natural cosmic power.

is the fact that the place is the spiritual cen-

Wawel is not only the visual identifi-

tre of Poland, a powerful symbol that unites

cation of Poland, also a sonic one: the

all Polish people, as it did when the country

sound of the Sigismund Bell announces

ceased to exist for over a century.

all the country’s most important events.


What the eye may first fail to notice, but

Poles’ love of the place has graced it with

If you are interested in how the early

plenty of major and minor extras accrued for

medieval city developed in Kraków,

centuries. As a result, the Castle and Cathedral

the history of its development is availa-

standing atop Wawel Hill are highly eclectic, the

ble in a lavish 3D animation.

predominantly Gothic substance, and Renaissance decorations, Baroque interiors, which accounts for an eye-catching amalgamation of styles.




Cultures erect monuments to warlords or poets: heroes they are indebted to for their great services to the benefit of the local community. In front of the Dragon’s Den at the foot of Wawel Castle, Kraków put up a monument to its fire-breathing Wawel Dragon that devoured the city’s virgins (and cattle). Certainly, proof of the peculiar local humour.



The Main Market Square, situated in the centre of the medieval city, is a hallmark known to millions worldwide. The symbol of home to over 20 million Poles living abroad, it is also a tourist brand, often used as the symbol of Kraków and Poland by major TV stations, tour operators, and tourist websites. As this is the largest medieval market square in Europe, there is enough place for everyone, and your film set and to work on it too.

The Main Market Square: the centre of all things ↘↘ ↘↘

Planning for all options: on a warm summer’s evening more people sit in the cafés and restaurant gardens in the square than lived in all of Kraków at the time when the Main Market Square was laid out.

The place was perfectly organised – as

Established more than 750 years ago for the

Today the site sees important assemblies

hay burns easily, it was sold only in one

City of Kraków – at the time already a bur-

and processions, is a stage for major open-air

location in the Main Market Square.

geoning centre of trade – the Main Market

concert events, and still offers merchandise

Although Brussels (Belgium) claims

Square was its days’ equivalent of a shopping

– especially during the Easter and Christmas

to have the largest market square in

mall: the Cloth Hall – standing to this day –


Europe, this assertion is absolutely un-

and the adjacent rows of the Rich Stalls pro-

The cosy square by St Mary’s, formerly a

founded, as the one in Kraków is more

vided a place for trading the most expensive

cemetery, spells tranquillity and reminds us

than five times as large: over 4 hectares

goods. Others were sold from wooden stalls.

what the magnificent centres of cities were

(10 acres).

The assortment was huge, like in a super-

like hundreds of years ago.

market today: whatever was needed in the city was available. From lead for your roof (sold in 500 kg slabs) via trinkets from the Orient to hay (for thatching roofs and as food for horses) and butter. Also present here were other buildings important for the medieval community: the Great Scales, where goods were measured and weighed, the building for sheep shearing, and the Town Hall, of which only the tower remains. 24


St Mary’s Church:

The silhouette of the lofty church with two very different towers is

the worth of a pearl is not measured by its regularity

as eye-catching as it is unique. Poles consider St Mary’s the archetype


Like many other locations, St Mary’s

Standing so conspicuously in the centre of

marbles, and the colourful, though subdued

offers an unexpected contrast between

the city of Kraków is St Mary’s Church – the

19th-century wall paintings, resplendent with

its unadorned Gothic exterior and the

city’s main parish. Volumes have been devoted


colourful 19th-century murals within,

to its rich furnishings and majestic form. It

An aura of grandeur, but at the same time,

providing the backdrop to the blackness

may be interesting to point out that since its

reflection and memory. Being so famous, the

of the Baroque marble side-altars and

construction in the Gothic style 800 years ago,

church has inspired plenty of legends, includ-

the splendour of the magnificent Gothic

there have been few periods that have not left

ing that about the interrupted bugle call that

main one.

their mark on the church. The magnificent

is now played from its taller tower to the four

The high altar at St Mary’s – the finest

high altar, still Gothic, though “only” just over

corners of the world on every full hour.

woodwork in Europe has attracted as-

500 years old, was installed after the church

On the outside, the spires – very different

tonished gazes for over 500 years.

was repeatedly extended and elevated. In the

and 150 years apart from each other – go well

The rendering of figures is so detailed

meantime, it even survived an earthquake in

with the Gothic body of the church, which is a

that 20th-century physicians had no

1442 – a rarity in this part of the world.

few hundred years older: something you don’t

↘↘ ↘↘

of the Polish church.

Thanks to such developments, the inside

realise sitting at your leisure over a morning

people who modelled for the figures of

is composed of elements from many different

coffee or afternoon tea in the Main Market

saints. Quite a few had varicose veins.

centuries in many styles. The tall Gothic walls

Square – Europe’s largest medieval market

and figures go particularly well with the lush-

square, which spreads at the foot of St Mary’s.

trouble diagnosing the illnesses of

ness of the 300-years-younger Renaissance tabernacle altar and stalls, the black Baroque 26


St Mary’s Church: the worth of a pearl is not measured by its regularity



Architecture: testimony to universalism and diversity



from the Baltic in the north to the Black Sea in the south, one that covered the territory of 12 of today’s countries.

St Mary’s included, many Kraków’s church-

Little wonder that the largest power in the

Listening to them, locals might believe that

es were built in the Middle Ages in Gothic

east of Western Europe developed very

they live in a Frankenstein of towns, assem-

style, but had their interiors refurbished

quickly, as it enjoyed the boons from such a

bled from parts of living tissue of many urban

in Baroque style, and some later had Art

vast territory, and on the other hand attract-

organisms. Yet, on reflection, they conclude

Nouveau murals added. Such eclec-

ed artists and artisans from the most fash-

that it was so with medieval cities. Sharing

ticism, albeit natural, means that they are

ionable places of the time. In the 13th and

the same form of economy, and styles and

perceived as “fantastic creatures”.

14th centuries, the city was under consid-

fashions in architecture, they all had plenty in

Walking the streets of Kraków, you will

erable influence from German states, while

common. Kraków, in avoiding severe damage

find that the styles do not form clusters,

three centuries later, it attracted architects

in the two world wars, was simply among the

but rather mingle, creating an eclecticism

from northern Italy.

cities lucky to have plenty of that heritage of

welcomed by the eye. This is the result


In the 16th century, Kraków was the capital of a kingdom that stretched

Little wonder too that many locations in

of natural processes of city development.

Kraków are so reminiscent of other European

Just like the English find it difficult to

cities that they are mistaken for them: Ger-

believe that a few hundred years ago ma-

mans and Dutch people alike find here places

jority of important people in Britain spoke

that remind them of their early medieval

French, Poles tend to forget that in the

burgher culture. Italians walking the streets

Middle Ages, the burghers spoke German,

cannot believe that they are not in Florence,

and intellectuals and clergy Latin.

and point to the similarity of the Church

diversity of timelines and European universality survive.

of St Peter and St Paul to del Gesù in Rome. 30


Architecture: testimony to universalism and diversity

Kraków was obviously built and developed for


Villa Decius was the home of Jost

a purpose. To provide its people with a place

Ludwig Dietz, an Alsatian who came to

to live and earn their keep: safe thanks to the

Kraków from Hungary in 1508. A protégé

powerful defence walls. Its residents were

of a royal banker, Decius became

naturally keen to have the splendour of their

a consummate diplomat and secretary

houses match their status. For the burghers,

to King Sigismund the Old, famous also

splendour was counted in proximity to the

for his literary and historical disserta-

market square, so most eminent examples

tions, and friendship with Martin Luther

of bourgeois architecture (including the city’s

and Desiderius Erasmus included.

parish church – St Mary’s) are found around it. On the other hand, the impressive resi-


Following the example of “paradises on earth” from Florence and Rome, Decius

dences of the nobility were situated on the

had a magnificent suburban residence

outskirts, where there was less noise and the

built in 1535. Soon it became the hub for

air was cleaner, and land was cheaper and

creative confrontation between various

available in greater quantities. Yet soon also

views, cultures and nationalities.

the nobility learnt to appreciate the pleasures of city life and built their splendid Baroque residences in the Main Market Square and by the main streets.



Genius loci

Kraków is blessed with a powerful genius loci – the spirit of the place. Whether it ensues from the powerful chakra in Wawel [d p. 21], the multitude of churches, the famous university, or the continuity of history, every individual visitor should decide for themselves.



Kraków boasts the country’s oldest

Archaeologists claim that the earliest built

the greatest revolution in the history of sci-

Academy of Fine Arts, which has run

structures found (under the courtyard of

ence, but also the mythological Doctor Faus-

its Animated Film Studio since 1957,

Wawel Castle) were used as purposes of

tus, whose life and pact with the devil and

making it the oldest art film school in

worship. Not unlike the prehistoric Celtic

excellence in magic and alchemy made him

the country. It also boasts Andrzej

mounds [d Architecture – model, though

the hero of so many films, plays, and other

Wajda, who enrolled to study painting,

unique, p. 41], Kraków became deeply set

works of art.

as one of its students.

in spirituality, as reflected in the number of

Most numerous in Kraków are Roman

places of worship: the magnificent churches,

Catholic churches, and the second most

especially Gothic, that the city is famous for.

numerous are synagogues, of which


Besides spirituality, intellectual pursuits

the city has seven.

are also strong pursuits of Kraków. Since the

If you think there could be no more

establishment of the Jagiellonian University

churches in Kraków, you might be

over 650 years ago, the city has been under

mistaken: the Austrians destroyed a few

the influence of the powerful genius of the

dozen of them in the city centre in the

human intellect. Originally known as the Acad-

19th century.

emy of Kraków, the university – the second oldest in Central Europe – educated not only Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikołaj Kopernik), the author of the Copernican theory, apparently 34


Genius loci

On the one hand, there would be none of the genius loci that Kraków is famous for without its university and churches, yet on the other it would be hard to protect without the city’s defences, of which an impressive gate and three towers remain. Until the 19th century, the city was surrounded by powerful walls with 40 towers and seven gates, and a moat that was replaced by the Planty garden ring.




Today’s cities discover they are losing their unique character. This claim

a city within a city

may be unfounded, as many old and ancient cities considered “unique” were in many ways strikingly similar to others, located hundreds of miles away.


Thanks to the district being specifically

On the other hand, what is today considered

listed by UNESCO as part of the archi-

a metropolis is often composed of multiple urban

tectural compound of the city centre,

structures – former cities, villages and hamlets.

hardly anything has changed in the look

This is true not only of London, but of Kraków too.

of the streets. Even taking sweeping


One of the cities, or boroughs, that Kraków

shots needs no more than the addition

is composed of is Kazimierz, so called as it was

of some signage (based on multiple

given the city charter by King Casimir the Great.

preserved photographs), and the streets

Although it is church towers that stand most

look very much like they did a century

prominently over the city of Kazimierz (today,

or more ago.

a district of Kraków), Kazimierz was famous for its

Apart from many legends, Kazimierz has

synagogues, as this was the place where – until the

been made famous by the people born

second world war – the Jewish population thrived.

here: the famous Rabbi Moses Isserles

Throngs of tourists are attracted today to

(1530), the queen of cosmetics Helena

the narrow streets, some of them still cobbled,

Rubinstein (1872), Max Fleischer (1883),

and the not-too-spacious, very characteris-

the inventor of the rotoscope (in 1915),

tic public spaces: the square where everyday

and Yoram Gross (1926) the Polish-Aus-

business was conducted, and the grander one

tralian children’s animation guru.

with as many as three synagogues and other facilities important for the community. 38


Architecture – model, though unique: forts, mounds, monuments ↘↘


Landmarks are much more than just documentation of lives, legends and popularity. Memorable and attractive for the eye, they are also witnesses to many bygone periods and functions that might have disappeared from today’s landscape, capable of providing hints for side plots and storylines.

Even more contemporary, “useless”

Małopolska abounds with human architec-

many provide picturesque settings, while oth-

marks in the landscape are monuments:

tural creations representative of many peri-

ers are revived and may be turned into less

designed to be highly visible, they may

ods, many of them also of other regions. Over

dishevelled backdrops.

sometimes be considered eyesores,

a millennium ago Celts built tumuli for their

yet on the other hand, they do build

deceased rulers. Their mounds stand in the lo-

an atmosphere, however uncanny.

cal landscape, enshrouded in legend. Uniquely,

Relatively recently, the famous Celtic

they became a model for 19th- and 20th-cen-

mounds surviving in Kraków acquired new

tury memorials, and today provide the anchor

neighbours: Kościuszko Mound (19th c.)

for people who return to prehistoric customs

and Piłsudski Mound (20th c.).

and fuel the imaginations of re-enactors. The latter are greatly attracted to another, albeit much more contemporary, form of “forgotten” architecture: the brick and earth forts, defensive structures built throughout Europe in the 19th century. The core of the “Fortress Kraków” was the Wawel Castle in the city centre, surrounded by three consecutive rings of reinforcements. The forts were on the verge of ruin late in the 20th century. Though falling into ruin,



Building universal architecture for the modern city ↘↘

The history of Kraków in the second half of the 19th century is a real Cinderella story.

One of the impulses for new architec-

first ever film in Paris. Living Photo-

ture was the havoc caused by the Great

graphs was a series of around 40 shorts,

Fire of Kraków in 1850. It burned for

and stayed on at the Municipal Theatre

several days, and left part of the city

for a month.

in cinders – e.g. the Jagiellonian Univer-




sity’s Collegium Novum replaced

In the mid-19th century, Kraków was still suf-

the burnt-down dormitories.

fering a period of decline, and was not likely to

As the construction of the Municipal

be revived, as a garrison city situated close to

Theatre (today’s Juliusz Słowacki Thea-

the border of three quarrelling empires. Luck-

tre) required the razing of the Church

ily, a degree of autonomy, the city’s wise may-

and Hospital of the Holy Spirit, it was

ors, and the genius loci – the spirit of the place

accompanied by scandal.

– helped to rejuvenate the city. Soon, new,

Kraków also provided the setting for Po-

neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance architec-

land’s first documentary. Shot in 1910,

ture began to replace the derelict structures.

it recorded the 500th anniversary of the

Notably, the Austrian authorities decided that

Battle of Grunwald.

they had to demolish 80 churches, as many of

The first film show in Kraków took place

them were threatened with collapse. The new

on 14 November 1896, hardly a year

buildings creatively invoked the “classical”

after the Lumière brothers showed the

forms already present in the city. 42


Art Nouveau

Some authorities claim that Kraków was never as close to the latest in

and the end of an empire

European fashions as in the early 20th century.


Considered so modern and functional

As a city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,

that it attracted designers of psychiat-

many of Kraków’s intellectuals, including ar-

ric hospitals from overseas, including

chitects, were educated in the universities

Japan, Kobierzyn was furnished with

and academies of Vienna. As the Austro-Hun-

its own heat and power plant, assorted

garian Empire extended over the territories of

workshops for the patients, its own

ten of today’s Central and Eastern European

farm, gardens and horse stables, thea-

countries (but also Venice), the penetration of

tre, playground, chapel, bakery, laundry,

artistic visions of the Vienna Secession (Art

and… a cemetery.

Nouveau, Jugendstil) was huge.

↘↘ ↘↘

The burgeoning of modernist ideas was

Kraków did not only follow suit, or join the

cruelly interrupted by the first world war

bandwagon trends that made much of its ar-

in 1914.

chitecture of the time virtually indistinguish-

Art Nouveau favoured creative and

able from that of Vienna, Prague, Budapest,

versatile minds. Stanisław Wyspiański

and other cities of the Empire. It developed

became famous not only for his dramas

its own travesties and ideas. For example,

and paintings, but also for designs of

Kobierzyn: a self-sustainable garden town,

stained-glass decorations, building inte-

and in fact a psychiatric hospital.

riors, designing theatre sets, and theory of drama. 44


Turn to the classical form



Once the post-war 1920s were gone, Europe looked forward to times of greater stability. That anticipation was reflected in the architecture of the period.

Interestingly, the façade of the Jagiellon-

Standing out from the Depression, Kraków

ian Library – a representative building

opted for the development of its academic and

of the period – is very modern in its,

cultural capacities: hence the development of

after all, classical forms.

an entire academic district along the Aleje.

The decorations of the house built for

Little wonder that after times of despair and

university professors in 1928 were so

economic instability, like in so many other

unlike anything else in the city that they

cities of Europe, the stable forms of classicism

earned the building plenty of nicknames,

also prevailed in Kraków – and remain in the

ranging from “the Aquarium” via “the

buildings of the Academy of Mining and Met-

Black House”, to “the Coffin”.

allurgy and the PKO Bank. The hefty classicist buildings of Kraków and their functional, spacious, and relatively unadorned interiors can play the role of many, often no longer existing, structures from major European cities. On the other hand, they provide perfect backdrops for the urban tales of their days.



Second world war:

At a time of unbelievable planned bloodshed and terror, the invaders also

Europe under Nazi occupation

designed utopian architecture and residences.


The totalitarian planning had monu-

The period found its way into numerous films,

undergone by cities in Nazi times, ranging

ments and other signs of Polishness

including Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List,

from posted execution bills, via swastika dec-

removed, and installed its brand every-

most of the shooting for which took place at

orations, to the destruction of monuments.

where: swastikas were displayed on

original locations. At a time when the nations

virtually all major buildings.

conquered by Germany were suffering, and

Andrzej Wajda’s Katyn used archive pho-

millions of Jews were exterminated in death

tos of the city to recreate the aura of the

camps [d Nazi death industry, p. 51], Nazi

second world war in occupied Europe.

architects implemented their plans of building

True to the time and picture-perfect.

a “perfect” city. Monumental and yet friend-


ly for the “chosen ones”: with gardens and plentiful space. The remnants of their plans still survive in Kraków, and range from an intriguing model residential area for the working classes to a splendid mock-Gothic residence perched atop a rock promontory commanding a beautiful view of the river. Thanks to the efforts of the Polish citizens – frequently dearly paid for – there is ample information available on the transformations 48


Nazi death industry: ghettos and concentration camps

Due to the inhuman plan to exterminate entire nations – Jews, Poles, the Roma – some locations in Małopolska Region became places of the demise of humanity that took place in the mid-20th century. Having refused Jews the right to live a normal life, the Nazis locked them


in ghettos, organised in major cities. Crowded within their confines, Jews There are other sites of former death

suffered not only from hunger, cold, and diseases, but primarily from

and labour camps strewn all over the

inhuman treatment at the hands of the Germans. Atrocities and executions

territories invaded by the German armies and administered by the Nazi regime. Some of them have been turned into sites of remembrance, while others

in the street were routine. Until, on an order, the ghettos were liquidated, which meant the murder of thousands of their inhabitants, and the rest being sent to labour and death camps.

remain wasteland or have been covered


by lawns, such as those in Płaszów

A place of remembrance of genocide, the

Roma, and other nationals. Though only one

(Kraków), and Piekary near the city,

Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, operating on

of the many death and extermination camps


the premises of the former Nazi death camp,

in the Nazi death machine, this is the one that

In 2015, the 70th anniversary of the

fulfils its mission of reporting the crimes of

is best documented and preserved in a large

liberation of Auschwitz Camp, proba-

the totalitarian Nazi regime. A silent witness


bly the last round anniversary in which

to some of the most cruel and inhuman crimes

homage could be paid to surviving for-

that modern Europe has known, the oppres-

mer inmates, was broadcast live by over

sive thicket of barracks of the Auschwitz

180 radio and TV stations and streamed

camp, much like the open spaces of nearby

live on YouTube. Steven Spielberg made

Birkenau, have been preserved by the long-

special documentary, narrated by Meryl

term effort of the many to give evidence of

Streep, for the occasion.

the mass extermination of Jews, Poles, the 50


Nazi death industry: ghettos and concentration camps



The people of Krakow Film Commission can provide you with information not only on the individual sections of the concrete jungle but also about their material and social history: human dramas, escape and adventure, and details of everyday hard work, as prominently featured in Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Marble.

Communist legacy

For nearly 50 years after the second world war, the Communist

and its concrete heritage

government made industrialisation of Poland one of its objectives.





The results are still visible and distinctive.

Nowa Huta boasting an area of over 110

for the utopian projects ran short, these were

the worker districts were lavish cultural

square kilometres (42 square miles) is

replaced by soulless concrete jungles of mon-

functions with parks and culture centres

among the largest socialist realist and

strous colonies with hardly any public func-

for workers and their offspring. Inter-

modernist urban developments you can

tions and little space for inhabitants. Typi-

estingly, many schools were designed to

imagine. The core of its architecture,

cal of half of the continent – from the Urals

the same patterns for decades. It may

both residential and industrial, stands

to Dresden, from the Baltic to the southern

be hard to believe, but one single model

almost unchanged.

Balkans – the forms of Socialist Realism are

Incorporated in the original layouts of

of a school building was copied in 1000

Many of the regime’s investments started

also present on the outskirts of most cities in

places throughout the country.

from scratch. The Lenin Steelworks, today

Małopolska Region.

Nowa Huta, the model city of com-

ArcelorMittal, replaced orchards. An absolute

Thus, the concrete jungles of Nowa Huta

munism, was designed without God.

novelty in the landscape, the “satanic mills”

can play virtually any city in the former Com-

Hence no churches either. Though

were also a new growth in the social sense.

munist bloc. On the other hand, the original

jealously defended by the communist

They needed plenty of workers, who flocked

design, with its Central Square, the broad

authorities, the plan to keep the city

from the most distant parts of Poland and had

streets radiating from it, and the oldest hous-

fully secular failed.

new places to live built for them.

ing estates, are the best example of Socialist

Originally considered a horror, the first

First, they were carefully planned neat

Realism, a trend that borrowed lavishly from

buildings of Nowa Huta are now appreci-

brick constructions with spacious backyards

past styles, including Renaissance and Ba-

ated, and more and more often architec-

and streets to be lined with trees allowing

roque, to put up constructions that are re-

tural protection is requested for them.

easy commuting. Later, however, as money

petitive, yet not devoid of a certain beauty. 54


Modernity melding into tradition: the new river front

It all started on the other side of the Vistula from Wawel Castle with the director Andrzej Wajda who bequeathed his 1987 Kyoto Prize to the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology (1994). The modern building was designed by the famous Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and Krzysztof Ingarden from Poland.

Kraków’s river front on the right, less historical, bank of the river includes the ICE Kraków Congress Centre, whose supra-modern glazed curvy façade stands on the other side of a roundabout from Manggha. Further down stands the huge body of the post-communist Forum Hotel; temporarily unused, whose ground floor has been adapted by the local hip community. Round a bend in the river, a footbridge spans the river with its futuristic arch offering a passage between the two most hip districts of the city. It’s only a stone’s throw from Cricoteka with its theatre-related exhibition and educational functions, whose huge and yet light frame was superimposed, believe it or not, over the city’s oldest power plant.



Modernity melding into tradition: the new river front



Architecture in the service of culture



Eager to cater to the new, emerging needs and ones that were neglected in days past, Kraków has developed plenty of modern buildings that offer futuristic, eye-catching backdrops.

New architecture in the service of art

Attracting plenty of business tourism with

The flying saucer-like Tauron Arena Kraków

has even entered the city centre: the

congresses, and cultural tourism with

landed further away from the centre to offer

Wyspiański Pavilion with amazing

crowd-attracting events, Kraków has de-

the 16,000 people in its confines entertainment

stained-glass decoration stands just

signed prominent modern sites to house

as varied as shows on ice, basketball, and fan-

yards away from the Main Market

them. New daring architecture with such

tastic concerts of film music, where films are


functions includes the ICE Kraków Congress

screened with just dialogues and FX, as the

There is the Małopolska Garden of Arts

Centre, which doubles as a concert hall with

music is played live by orchestras and choirs

in Rajska Street with very unorthodox

2000 seats, proudly brandishing its splen-

in line-ups of hundreds of artists under emi-

interiors in all its sections: events,

didly designed form within eyeshot of Wawel

nent film music composers [d Film festivals in

library, theatre, and bar, all of which are

Castle, very close to the Manggha Museum.

Kraków, p. X].

used for meetings, lectures, performances – in a word: art.



Museums of technology: when the cutting edge turns vintage ↘↘


Architecture survives all over the world, and once it is no longer stateof-the-art, more short-lived material heritage is usually scrapped and forgotten. Not in Kraków or Małopolska Region.

The Polish Aviation Museum and the

Kraków retained something that is normally

aircraft (one of the five existing first world war

Kraków Museum of Municipal Engi-

quickly forgotten in successive modernisa-

era Sopwith F.1 Camel planes) and, important-

neering take pride not only in what they

tions: its original gas plant, power plants, and

ly, expert knowledge founded on research and

have collected, but also in keeping their

the old tram depot. Initially serving horse-

true enthusiasm and dedication.

artefacts in prime working condition.

drawn trams, and later electric ones, it not

In Małopolska, we are used to seeing peo-

Until 1939, Polish aviators were among

only has architecture retaining its character

ple dressed in costumes from various periods

the most daring (Żwirko, Wigura), and

for nearly 120 years, but is also a collection of

and portraying past events. Re-enactments

constructors among the most innovative

still very much usable motoring accessories

are alive and kicking. Major events range from

(RWD: Rogalski, Wigura, Drzewiecki);

even from the 1960s.

medieval battles on horseback, via the con-

It’s more than trams and cars and ancient

flicts of the two world wars, to quite recent

the best, both in civil competitions

fire pumps that have been retained. With

events including the strikes and skirmishes of

and in battle. Magnificent specimens

technology the sky is the limit. And Kraków

the 1980s. Yet it is the small-scale ones, often

are kept today by the Polish Aviation

and Małopolska Region reached for the skies

known only to restricted audiences, that are

Museum in its 21st-century modern

– the Polish Aviation Museum holds not only

the essence of “re-living” the past events.

home and on the grounds of the former

reconstructions of still quite unknown, but

aerodrome surrounding it.

battle-perfect fighter planes from 1939, in-

consequently, the planes were among

cluding a PZL P.11c of unique “mosquito-like beauty”, but also a vast collection of other



Museums of technology: when the cutting edge turns vintage



This is our region. We feel at home here, and invite you to get first-hand experience of it. As good hosts, we are at your disposal – we know the place like the back of our hands, and are ready to foresee your wishes.

Małopolska Region:

In bygone times they called us Małopolska – Lesser Poland. Probably

where the imagination roams

because they envied us the Royal Capital City of Kraków. In Kraków, we built our castles and churches with their lofty towers, and they were surrounded by cottages.


Although this entire publication is just

Quite naturally, a city of power helped in

an introduction to Małopolska Region

the development of the territory around it:

and the city of Kraków, the pictures

Małopolska Region became a rich region

presented here are a digest of various

catering to the needs of the capital Kraków,

themes and notions presented on the

something it could achieve only thanks to its

following pages. For more comprehen-

diversity, natural resources, and the human

sive information, well, you’d best visit


us, and we’ll gladly show you around.

The ponds of Zator provided the city with sleigh-loads of the best carp 500 years ago, and they still do. The cavernous salt mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia, once the kingdom’s treasure, astound people familiar with the gold mines of Africa and emerald mines of South America.



Małopolska Region: where the imagination roams

Some of the museums feature empty spaces for future exhibits to be added; as yet they can be used for building temporary structures to expand the existing “villages� and thus cater for your needs.

Open-air museums:

Buildings of interest transferred from very different locations into a single

ready-made locations

place, often set against breathtaking backdrops.


Their designers paid special attention to

If something resembles paradise on earth for

Another asset of such places is the ab-

making the open-air museums camera

set planners, it must be open-air museums.

sence of power lines and other modern stuff

friendly: something you are most wel-

The most interesting examples of architecture

that has proliferated around similar houses

come to take advantage of.

are brought to a single place from many miles

standing “at large” among the countryside.

Not only are such museums numerous

around, and the management has plentiful

in Małopolska Region, but “out there”

knowledge about their reconstruction very

are also locations which do not differ

helpful when, e.g. you need a copy to be built

much from them, e.g. the wooden

and burned down or blown up for the needs

village of Chochołów.

of your picture.



Available throughout the year, open-air

Recreated in the open-air museums are

museums in a natural way participate in

not only typical village cottages, but primarily

the changing of the seasons: they look

the buildings that were the pride of a whole

very different clad in winter snow than

village as they provided special services, in-

when bathed in the rays of spring sun.

cluding cloth making, grain milling, and storing

In summer they will be adorned with

the harvest. Standing there are also manor

lush flowers, and in autumn – with

houses of village owners, churches, and plen-

ripening apples and other fruit.

ty of “the smallest architecture” making the places more credibly life-like: beehives, wells with cranes, etc. 70


Open-air museums: ready-made locations

Although this may sound implausible, the decision to recreate a small town, characteristic of what they looked like in the 19th century in Galicia (as the province was known under the Austrian administration), was reached without the slightest moviemaking intentions in mind, and now, the camera-perfect city stands amid the fields of Galicia, ready to be enjoyed.



Whether you need a fantasy train to the like of Thomas the Tank Engine or the Hogwarts Express, a “mule” to tow tons of coal, or whether it’s a stylish carriage to provide a backdrop to romantic vintage dialogues that you’re after, we at Krakow Film Commission know where to look for them, and can suggest the most relevant views from their windows.

Steam power

Today you arrive comfortably in Małopolska Region by plane. In the 19th century, the best option for long-distance travelling was by train.



The first mass people-mover, and the

Today you choose the means of transport

exhibits for events and films. The line to Nowy

vehicle that made it possible for the

you find convenient: you arrive comforta-

Sącz has been left unelectrified to retain the

industry to deliver its products every-

bly in Małopolska by plane, and then choose

true charm of the old, old choo-choo train. The

where, the railway is an important

what suits you. They did the same in the 19th

locals claim that twenty years ago the original,

element of the culturescape of the late

century, though the choices were different.

powerful steam engines helped Spielberg’s

19th and most of the 20th century. It is

In the age of steam, a dense mesh of rail-

Schindler’s List win its Oscar.

hard to create a credible vibrant land-

ways covered Europe from the UK to today’s

scape of the time without it.

Małopolska Region.

Not only did the region never forget the days when technology was young, but it cher-

Today’s cities have placed railway lines

Although the super-express trains roaming

ishes them and puts the early technologies

in tunnels and ditches, removing them

the Austro-Hungarian Empire are long gone,

on display, so that everyone can see what

from view. Yet in the past they were

atmospheric train stations have remained.

travelling, road building, fire-fighting and

a source of pride and a symbol of power.

Kasina Wielka boasts Poland’s highest train

many other things looked like decades ago

And as such they were present in many

station, opened in 1884. Situated on the west-

[d Museums of technology, p. 63].

central arteries of the cities – some-

ern slopes of Śnieżnica, the station features

times in places that today’s inhabitants

in numerous films, including Edges of the Lord

cannot even imagine.

and Katyn. The colourful historic trains are still there: the Rolling Stock Museum in Chabówka, which not only invites visitors, but also loans its 74


If your screenplay ever requires burning of a wooden structure, such as a church or a manor house, consult us: our wooden heritage is perfectly documented, with some of the historical structures having been transferred to another place, so there are precise plans that allow construction of their identical twins.

Wooden churches

Fine works of the human brain among marvels of mountainous landscape. Unique and universal. At the same time, acknowledged by both free spirits and international heritage protection organisations.



A figure of Suffering Christ by an anon-

For centuries, people built churches where

alike. Besides the appearance, each church

ymous artist from Rabka museum made

they worshiped God: to emphasise the sub-

has its own tale to tell: some about the con-

Pablo Picasso gasp for breath, shout

lime – they made them as high as they could,

gregation deported far away, and others about

“Genial!” and claim that if all art were

and for everyone to fit in – they were made

how locals helped one another in difficult

wiped out from the face of the Earth,

spacious. Locals built them of wood – a ma-

times, not heeding the differences between

this one would suffice to attest to the

terial they knew very well – in prominent


human genius.

places so that everyone could see what

UNESCO declared the churches of

beauty they had.

Małopolska Region as World Heritage as

Some of the villages are gone in the turmoil

they “represent outstanding examples

of history, but many of the masterpieces of

of (…) medieval church-building tradi-

carpentry and architecture have remained,

tions (…) particularly impressive

evoking an aura of reflection and pastoral

in their artistic and technical execution,


and sponsored by noble families and

Eight of the wooden churches of Małopol-

rulers as symbols of social and political

ska (four Roman Catholic and four of Eastern


rites) are recognised as World Heritage by UNESCO, many more stand in beautiful, unspoiled settings, cherished by local communities and heritage preservation authorities 76


Our contacts include historians who will not only tell you the story behind each individual fortress or palace, and what each castle looked like in a given moment. They are also experts in how they functioned, i.e. what life was really like within their walls.

Places of worship

Even though the majority of them are Catholic, the holy places of Kraków and Małopolska are as diverse as the times when they originated.


A look at Kraków and Małopolska in the

Some notable examples include the Bene-

entire complex is listed by UNESCO as World

context of multiculturality gives a better

dictine Abbey in Tyniec, founded on a rocky

Heritage under the name of Kalwaria Zebrzy-

understanding of why John Paul II, the

outcrop near Kraków in 1044. Today it may

dowska: the Mannerist Architectural and Park

Polish Pope who was born and lived

be difficult to believe that a large part of the

Landscape Complex and Pilgrimage Park.

here, was the first head of the Catholic

structure dominating the hill demolished

Church to visit a Jewish synagogue.

by Mongols (13th c.), and centuries later by Swedes and Confederates of Bar was long known as “the Great Ruin”. Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is one of the 17th-century calvaries – places resembling the Golgotha of Jerusalem that were popularly established all over Europe: in Spain, France, Germany, Italy, and even Switzerland. While the actual one remained in the hands of Muslims, such an approximation gave an idea of the original. A peculiarity of the Kalwaria in Małopolska is its “paths of Calvary”, covered every year by over a million pilgrims who pray and sing en route between the 42 chapels. The 78


Like anywhere else in the world, many of Małopolska Region’s castles are enshrouded in legends featuring ghosts, secret love stories, and the deeds of saints. Whether you need inspiration or are willing to include a local plot to make your story more convincing, we are here to help you.

Castles of Małopolska:

Today landmarks, in bygone centuries centres of power, and safeguard

the solitary and imposing icons of the region

of the riches of the land, castles are as plentiful as they are different


Castles fulfilled many functions: apart

Apart from Poland’s most noteworthy Wawel

they have remained in the countryside: pictur-

from the obvious ones including defend-

Castle [d p. 21], Małopolska Region has doz-

esque ruins, jarring the clouds passing over

ing territory or passage, they had others

ens more castles to offer. Some were turned

them, and often going together very well with

that are today hardly realised. Some

by the turmoil of history into picturesque ruins

the nearby limestone rocks from which they

(e.g. Lipowiec) functioned as prisons

[d see photo, p. 112], others stand guard as

were built.

and as such were the backdrops to pic-

they did in the past, and others still (e.g. in

turesque escapes, others were the place

Korzkiew) were recently rebuilt.


throughout the region.

Castles were built in Małopolska Region even in the 20th century. The spirit of histor-

to detain overly amorous members of

As one of their roles was to supervise

icism prompted famous architects to mod-

the family, and more still were built as

communication routes, castles are as a rule

el them on existing structures and deploy

a manifestation of power and potential.

situated in very picturesque locations: on rock

them “where they looked natural and were

A reason for the uniqueness of Małopol-

promontories that not only permit them to ob-

most needed”, e.g. overlooking the Vistula in

ska Region’s castles is their situation:

serve large swathes of land, but also – should

Przegorzały district of Kraków [d see photo,

perched on elevations high above the

the enemy or brigands be spotted – enable

p. 48].

valley beds, they were built to irregular

a quick attack, with the full force of the cavalry

plans, to fit the available space.

galloping downhill. The 17th century, with its numerous wars and the popular use of gunpowder, proved detrimental to many castles. Although many of them never resurfaced from the wreckage, 80


Castles of Małopolska: the solitary and imposing icons of the region

The castles of Małopolska Region are the opposite of the Disneyland concept, a phantom made to “look cool”. They are the expression of true need: protection of trade routes, a safe place to live and keep your life’s earnings, proving your magnitude, and hence are true to their surroundings. With time and the advancement of the art of war, fortified castles lost in strategic importance, and the noble and aristocratic families inhabiting them – in need of more space and prestige – expanded and embellished them, turning them into palaces of a stylish rather than defensive character. Such a transition is visible in the palazzo in fortezza – a palace within a fortress – style.



We will not only advise you which location (best) to choose based on your requirements and needs, but will also help you in negotiation with the respective owners of such premises.

Mansions: homes to the aristocracy


No picture about the aristocracy would be complete without their stately homes. Not just as a backdrop, but rather a frame that enforced a special way of life.

For centuries, in Poland, like elsewhere

The Poles approach mansions and stately

not only the changing styles and fashions but

in Europe, stately homes provided

homes with quite a reverence, which is re-

also the preferences of the successive own-

the upper classes with a refuge from

flected even in language. We’re quite likely

ers (as they frequently changed hands), yet

the noisy and dirty cities.

to refer to them as “palaces”. As befits the

they often retained more than an air of their

wealthy and influential region surrounding

original character, and touches of the interme-

the country’s capital, Małopolska Region is

diate stages. Others were designed relatively

blessed with numerous stately homes of mag-

late and have retained their original feel. The

nate families. Some were built many centuries

common denominator is their outstanding

ago, and were repeatedly transformed to fit

character and scenic beauty.

With time, cities – in the Middle Ages inhabited solely by burghers – opened to aristocratic families, who settled in the most prestigious locations, frequently buying out two or three neighbouring plots and developing them with imposing city residences. 84


Mansions: homes to the aristocracy

Such a process continued at different times, in all wealthy and attractive cities of Europe; in Poland mostly affecting its royal capital – Kraków. This interesting form of gentrification from a few centuries ago has left Kraków with stately residences around the Main Market Square and by the grandest streets, and added contrast to the already divergent development of the city. Quite obviously, the arrival of the aristocracy in city centres helped to transform local fashions. By importing a skilled labour force – architects, masons, sculptors, stucco decorators and others – from abroad, it brought the faces of Polish cities even closer to those of West European ones.



A nobleman’s life in the country: manor houses ↘↘



The nexus of Polishness throughout the centuries, recently perceived as no more than just witnesses to the history, manor houses are experiencing a true resurgence.

As the Polish nobility accounted for 10%

Unlike the stately homes, called “palaces” in

given by Sienkiewicz in his Trilogy describing

of the country’s population, most of

Poland, the Polish dwór – manor house – was

events from the 17th century, and the manor

the nobles were not very well-off. This

a unique place, though popular. The manorial

house in Kraków’s Bronowice described so

is why many Polish manor houses are

estate consisted of the residence of the owner

vividly in Wyspiański’s The Wedding – a dra-

wooden and quite unassuming.

proper and the surrounding manorial build-

ma describing a wedding from the early 20th

Depending on the exact time of their

ings, which – depending on the wealth – could


origin and location, the manor houses

even form a self-sustainable “capital” of the

played various roles. Some were for-

surrounding estate, providing not only plenty

tified strongholds, while others were

of space for the farm produce and residence

artists’ conservatories with light wood

for farm labourers, but often a range of fa-

construction and plenty of glazing.

cilities including breweries, taverns, various

In the Polish encyclopedia, it is very

mills, and a chapel.

difficult to find a biography of a famous

Manor houses feature in all major film pro-

Pole living in the 18th, 19th or early 20th

ductions about life in Poland from the Middle

century who did not spend part of his

Ages to the late 19th century, and are en-

or her life in a manor.

shrined in all major works of Polish literature: the archetypal manor house of Soplicowo from the Pan Tadeusz epic poem at the time of Napoleonic wars, the countless examples 88


A nobleman’s life in the country: manor houses

Nowhere does the phrase “time has stopped here” fit the description as precisely and truthfully as in the case of our manor houses. Even the ones that have been engulfed by cities – like Kraków’s Rydlówka in Bronowice and the manor house of Jan Matejko the painter in Krzesławice – have managed to retain their slow pace, and seem to slow down the flow of time around them. Many manor houses have quite naturally become hubs of local life. A good example is Wysoka, whose manor is an internationally recognised centre of early music.



Wooden heritage

Just as in the years before the MP3 we listened to music from LPs and later cassettes, before the arrival of brick houses we lived in wooden and stone ones.




One of the most picturesque is the

Being far more expensive, the solid ones

Thus, even though actually short-lived,

Church of St Leonard in Lipnica Muro-

were the buildings of the community, usually

wooden architecture is as perennial as grass.

wana, rumoured to have replaced the

the church and perhaps the nobility, while

All the more reason for cherishing what re-

shrine, and picturesquely situated be-

the ordinary folks lived in the far more popu-

mained from the days of wooden architec-

tween a stream and wooded cemetery.

lar wooden ones. Yet they were of course far

ture. Village churches, manor houses, assorted

Plenty of wooden architecture can be

more perishable, with the enemies of wood

cottages and farm buildings – hundreds of

found in open-air museums [d p. 71],

including on the one hand natural processes

those that have survived are now linked by the

where it has been transferred to save it

of rotting and insect infestation, and on the

Małopolska Wooden Heritage Route. Although

from oblivion and where it forms pictur-

other fire, frequently the result of an enemy

as a rule no more than one or a few hundred

esque clusters.

attack, yet almost as often of somebody’s

years old, each of the sites on that unique,

An interesting approach to decorating

neglect, or simply an overturned candle.

perishable trail is a memento of the bygone

wooden buildings was taken by the

When built of wood, whole cities and vil-

people of the “Painted Village”.

lages would burn. Some fires lasted for days,

In Zalipie, even kennels and well cranes

while others destroyed human settlements

are painted with gaudy flowers.

overnight. Luckily, wooden structures could

“generations” of wooden architecture.

quickly be replaced with new ones by local craftsmen. As a rule, they used the same design as the previous ones, with just small alterations as necessary. 92


Wooden Heritage

Although it connects no fewer than 250 buildings and building complexes, and extends over 1500 km (nearly 1000 miles), the trail is still too short to reach all the sites of interest, as they are simply too abundant in the region (for example, it misses the Church of St Martin in Czermna). The idea to protect wooden heritage came about in 2001, and as soon as 2008 was attracting approximately 80,000 tourists.



Curious to know more about the history of any of our locations? We’ll be very glad to oblige with more information. Much more information in fact.

Local towns:

Many smaller and bigger locations in the region have retained their

so small and so varied

original character. As such they provide a perfect backdrop to various tales


There are intriguing local customs

Beloved by royalty (e.g. Biecz) or other wealthy

into course books on architecture, and Jurgów

throughout the region. Crowds gather

patrons in the past, many small towns live to-

became famous for its hamlet of highlander

on Palm Sunday, when many-metre-

day in the shadow of their bygone foundations.

shepherding shelters clustered together on

tall palms are collected in the market

They herald a perfect opportunity for the cam-

a meadow. Examples of places that offer an

square of Lipnica Murowana for the

era, as they are actual living organisms, where

insight into the looks of bygone villages and

annual contest.

nothing needs to be “made ancient”, and all

towns are numerous in the region: Gołkowice,

There are plenty of revellers throughout

the elements of the local tissue work together

Lipnica Murowana, Sławków, Stary Sącz…

Małopolska Region, not only on Mardi

well, as the town or village has grown organi-

Gras, but – depending on the location

cally over the ages or decades.


at various moments of the carnival.

from centuries ago.

Małopolska Region features plenty of such

Dressed as angels, devils, stars, and

sites, beginning with its capital in Kraków,

auroch-like demons they move from

the region’s only metropolis, with numerous

house to house, singing merry songs

unique districts, each individual in character.

and carols and collecting money

Mentioned above, Biecz is a coherent com-

or small gifts.

pound of a medieval city; Lanckorona and Ciężkowice – both visually and historically very unlike each other – are examples of small towns that have retained their character, Frydman is a village that has made it 96


Local towns: so small and so varied

Whether listed above or not, many towns and villages of Małopolska Region contain amazing surprises. Miechów is home to a centuries-old church with a representation of Christ’s grave from Jerusalem. In turn, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska [d Places of worship, p. 79] – just over the hill from Lanckorona – is famous for its paths of Calvary.




The more cultures inhabit a given area and the more variety is available locally, the more different are the inspirations of artists, including architects.



The time when a large Jewish commu-

Living in Kraków for well over 800 years, Jews

splendid and opulent, they used to mirror the

nity lived in Poland included plenty of

provided a fair share of the city’s environs. The

wealth and ways of the people who inhabit-

highly emotional moments, tragedies

narrow streets of the Jewish “walled city” in

ed them. Małopolska Region is home to some

and love affairs alike: Casimir, Poland’s

Kazimierz, the district Kraków’s Jews inhabited

of the very few preserved shtetls – the little

only king to be nicknamed “the Great”,

and developed for centuries, still retain much of

Jewish towns that were so plentiful before the

is said to have been deeply in love with

the pre-Holocaust spirit. Standing proud again

second world war.

a Jewish mistress, Esther.

after the annihilation of the second world war

Plenty of sad stories wait to be told, includ-

For many centuries a major centre of

and the oblivion of communism (together with

ing that of the poet and songwriter Mordechai

Jewish culture and learning in Europe,

manor houses of the Polish nobility d p. 87) are

Gebirtig, shot dead when, on his way to the

Kraków earned a lasting place in Jewish

synagogues and other buildings of the Jewish

train that was to take him to the Nazi death

history. The fame of the city as a place

community. Some shabby and wooden, others

camp, he decided to dance.

of mysticism and teaching of law carried far among the Jews, successfully upheld by the Jewish Culture Festival.

Krynica is just one of a number of spas and resorts in eastern Małopolska – Krakow Film Commission can show you all of them.


Since the discovery of their curative properties, “the springs” – Krynica

the spa

and its neighbours included – have attracted art and technology, romance


Małopolska boasts plentiful springs of

Common all over Europe in the 19th century,

a picturesque park – partially romantically

mineral water, whose curative and restor-

mineral waters attracted rather the fashion-

unkempt and partially finely ordered, while

ative properties were proven well over

able travelling classes than only the ailing.

those less inclined to exercise take the ancient

a century ago. They soon grew a wealth of

Travelling to the spas developing around them

funicular to a beautiful clearing and walk the

developments for “visitors to the waters”

may be claimed to be the other foundation,

forest-clad range of hills. Walking and skiing

typical of the spas popular in Europe in

beside pilgrimages, of what we know today

routes abound close by.

the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

as tourism.


The spas of Małopolska may be typical

Huddled in a horseshoe between hill

of the trend, yet they are also unique as

ranges, Krynica (Polish for spring) retains

their architecture had to be suited to the

plenty of its 19th-century aura, that of a spa

harsh weather this far north on this side

attracting the fashionable and the affluent to

of the Alps. They also feature in plenty of

its bounties.

first and second world war era postcards,


and crime.

The intricately decorated wooden archi-

when they were used as field and conva-

tecture is home to the state-of-the-art, and

lescent hospitals.

now antique art of pumping mineral waters,

Coming here for treatment, visitors

the promenade is still leisurely walked by

from the cities found themselves in new

hundreds of people who come here to sip

environments, which inspired art as well

water. The more enterprising ones reach

as affairs.

the top of Góra Parkowa, walking through 102


As Wieliczka was so important to the royal economy, the medieval labourers were not only handsomely remunerated but also enjoyed very high status and countless fringe benefits, salt and retirement pensions included.

Wieliczka and Bochnia:

Miles upon miles of an unbelievable kingdom stretch hundreds of metres

sublime underground kingdoms waiting for lights and lenses

below the ground: ready for light to reflect it and shine with thousands


The salt mines are very conveniently

Unbelievable though it may sound, Wieliczka

remaining maze is documented and safe to

situated. Wieliczka is within the range of

used to be a source of unbelievable riches for

enter, as electricity and ventilation are pro-

Kraków’s metropolitan trains and buses,

the whole of Poland, at the time covering a far

vided permanently underground.

and Bochnia is just 45 km (30 miles) away

greater territory than now and reaching down

from Kraków.

to the Black Sea.


Wieliczka Salt Mine is probably the oldest industrial enterprise operating in


Salt was necessary to keep food fresh longer, make it tasty, and let it travel.

A product of nature (salt deposits) and many centuries of human work (chambers, passages, mining machinery), Wieliczka Salt Mine was inscribed on the original (1978)

Today there is a tourist route that runs

UNESCO World Heritage List as a gem of

been acquired here over a millennium

underground and takes tourists along many

both natural and industrial heritage, and the

ago, the industrial operation has been

kilometres of passages to the oldest cham-

Bochnia mine followed in 2013.

documented for eight centuries.

bers hewn in rock salt. Some of the most

Although operating for centuries, the

imposing among them include the chapels

mines provide graceful substance to

and the chambers with underground brine

the creative mind, which e.g. ensured

lakes. Although subterranean boat rides were

that Wieliczka listed in The Guinness

organised in both in the past, the practice only

Book of Records as the world’s only

continues in Bochnia.

Europe. Although brine is known to have


of sparks are salt crystals that have waited for thousands of years to be

underground balloon flight. This not only

Only about 1% of all the underground pas-

shows how high some of the caverns

sages – a few kilometres out of a few hundred

are but also what you can do within with

– are accessible to tourists. Yet much of the

a touch of creative inspiration.



Wieliczka and Bochnia: Sublime underground kingdoms waiting for lights and lenses




Although generally a flat country, the southernmost tip of Poland is

a touch of the sublime

adorned by the most beautiful and alpine cluster of the Carpathians – the Tatra Mountains. And the whole of the Polish Tatras lie in Małopolska Region.



Home to the Górale highlanders, the

The Tatras mark their commanding presence

rocky mountains and climbing to their knees,

Tatras and their harsh climate enforced

over the landscape, and can be seen from

followed by dwarf forms of pine, extending

a lifestyle on the inhabitants of the foot-

afar. Frequently clad in snow, even long into

over which are only expanses of meadows, and

hills and made their mark on their style

summer, with snow remaining visible in their

only some lichens and similar vegetation con-

in architecture, costume, and traditions.

gullies well into autumn, they turn white again

quering the rocky peaks of the highest floor.

The folk culture of the Polish highland-

in its last days or very early in winter. The cli-

The glacier moving south across Poland

ers is among the best documented and

mate is as unfriendly as the rocks of which the

millions of years ago found the Tatras an un-


tallest parts of the mountains are built. The

surpassable barrier, and receded from here

More than a century ago, artists and

beauty of the Tatras is of the austere type, and

when an ancient global warming occurred,

antiquarians alike took interest in the

has been noticed and praised by many artists,

leaving a plethora of picturesque lakes: indi-

unsophisticated yet complex costumes

sentimental and romantic alike.

vidual and clusters.

and ways of the Highlanders and their

The variety of the relatively small area is

very difficult lives and made their cul-

unbelievable, partially due to the fact that the

ture famous, and their villages remain

mountains standing here are of various builds:

a popular destination even now, over

most are granite, yet some of the forms (e.g.

100 years later.

Giewont) evolved in soft limestone. All these formations are overgrown with characteristic “floors” of vegetation, beginning with lush forests over the low hills at the foot of the 108


Since 2004, when Poland joined the European Union, the fact that the PolishSlovak border runs along a section of the river is no obstacle for film-making.

River gorges:

While some are visited by thousands of tourists, others remain known


only to a handful of enthusiasts.


Like many other mountain ranges of

There are true pearls catching the eye among

the region, and notably the high rocky

the fields of Małopolska Region. Many of them

Tatras, the Pieniny are very well visible

are unique, of natural origin.

from a considerable distance, which


The Pieniny are absolutely spectacular,

makes them a great natural backdrop

white mountains covered with dark pine for-

for numerous locations.

ests, with a surprisingly swiftly meandering

While rafting down the Dunajec Gorge

river hiding in their midst. The Three Crowns

in the Pieniny is among the best-known

stands nearly 500 m (1640 ft) above the waters

tourist attractions in Poland, the moun-

of the Dunajec – the swift mountain river float-

tains themselves are well ingrained in

ing at its foot. The raftsmen learnt to navigate

the Polish imagination, as they feature

in the tricky currents centuries ago. Today, the

in plenty of school books.

load consists rather of tourists than wood and farm produce. Yet the tradition has remained, and so have the costumes and colours. Unlike that of the Dunajec, the nearby Białka Gorge is a picture of tranquillity. Romantic at sunset, it tends to be pensive in a summer rain, and acquires an unbelievable silent mobility when covered in snow. 110


We are in touch with knightly brotherhoods, sharpshooter associations, and plenty of other organisations that are a precious source of extras.

Castles perched on rocks


↘↘ ↘↘

High places have always captured the human imagination. And attracted daredevils.

The palazzo in fortezza was an Italian

Just as today many regions complain about

which provided a safe haven for magnates and

concept that provided the residential

wind farms becoming the main element of the

the riches they gathered, these ones can boast

interior for the nobility (the palace),

landscape, medieval Małopolska Region could

that they were luxurious, lavishly decorated,

surrounded by the defence structures

claim that it was the omnipresent castles that

and often designed by the best architects

of the fortress. The resulting clash

spoiled the view. There seemed to be simply

from distant lands.

between the rich and grand inside, and

too many of them. So maybe it is not that bad

the strong, simple and powerful outer

that time and the winds of war have turned

perimeter attracts the eye to this day.

some of them to ruin.

The ruins of Rabsztyn Castle can be

Castles were defensive structures. The

seen in Giacomo Battiato’s Karol: A Man

more you could see from the castle, the

Who Became Pope.

more efficiently it played its role, e.g. making

The Jurassic plateau between Kraków

sure that no highwaymen waylaid the mer-

and Częstochowa is famous for its “Ea-

chant caravans and that no hostile armies

gles’ Nests”: numerous fortresses built

approached. Luckily for us, this means that

of white limestone.

castles were built in the best vantage points, and, from all the places they overlook, provide an amazing accent to the landscape. As some castles were just watchtowers, they were simple and austere. Unlike others, 112


Wonders in the landscape

The gaze of the traveller in Małopolska Region is frequently attracted by a solitary standing rock (monadnock) that may suddenly emerge from behind a bend, and clusters of them lining the walls of ravines and gorges, or simply standing over the floors of valleys.



The names of Małopolska’s rocks are

Since much of the region is built of soft lime-

be visited with a guide, some lie in protected

highly imaginative, indeed, and range

stone rock, fast-flowing mountain rivers

landscape areas, and many more are open to

from the best-known Hercules’ Mace

eroded deep canyons in it. The tougher rocks,

whoever wanders near.

(or Club), via The Crows’ Tower, Man-

however, did not give up to the destructive

of-War, and Frog Horse to a plethora

force of water and remained, proudly and pic-

of devil’s stones.

turesquely, where they had stood for millions

Many of the rocks have legends as-

of years. The most characteristic ones became

signed to them, particularly the devil’s

ingrained in the collective memory of Poles,

stones, which were believed to have

and probably all – even the least conspicuous

been cast by various fiends at churches.

ones – were given popular names.

Led astray by people’s prayers, and


In many cases, archaeology supports the

the power of the saints, the missiles of

belief that in prehistoric times, such “freaks

the evil spirits sorely missed in all cases.

of nature” were centres of prehistoric pagan

However big, in their size even the larg-

cults. Yet it was another “singularity” in the

est caves are no match for the vastness

landscape that attracted people perhaps

of man-made mines in Wieliczka and

even earlier: assorted dry caves of the region

Bochnia [d p. 105].

were inhabited by various cavemen populations that left their traces and bones in and around them. Some of Małopolska’s caves can 114


The pungent yellow of the rapeseed flowers made its mark on the May landscape of Małopolska quite a few years ago, and is here to stay due to the production of biofuels.

A country of fields

The names of Polska – Poland and Małopolska are intrinsically connected to pola – the Polish word for “fields”.



Although fields are so special to Poland,

Very much characteristic of Małopolska are

it is a country of woods and lush forests

the long strips of fields, as the region has

[d p. 119], a fact emphasised by many

retained the historical divides. Looking pic-

tourists, especially those from West-

turesque, especially from above, where they

ern Europe and the United States. The

form colourful patchworks, amazingly reg-

forests frequently grow in clusters and

ular in their apparent chaos, they are highly

long lines along rivers and roads.

historical, frequently the result of medieval

Hovering high above the fields and

divisions of land.

striding proudly among the vegetation


They are best discernible in summer, when

are storks, which nest in such numbers

fields of wheat, rye, and barley acquire pic-

in Małopolska Region villages and towns

turesque shades of brown, golden and silver.

that the species has become the symbol

Far from dull and monotonous, also thanks

of Poland and an icon of the Polish

to the undulating terrain, the patchwork of


Małopolska is dotted with woods, intersected

Where better to look for fields – pola –

by numerous rivers, many of them forming

if not in Polska and Małopolska Region,

their own gorges and flowing into lakes and

which take their name from them.

broads, and speckled with other variations of the terrain described in the previous chapters.




Whether a small copse or shrubbery among the fields, or the huge stretch

nature’s ever-changing colour palette

of age-old primeval forest, Małopolska Region is the place to look for


Situated amid the awe-inspiring Nie-

Małopolska Region boasts both coniferous

Many of the region’s forests grow on steep

połomicka Forest (Puszcza Niepoło-

(predominantly spruce) and deciduous (most-

slopes of hills and mountains, providing pic-

micka) is a breeding centre of the

ly beech) trees, which means that there are

turesque processions of tree trunks climbing

European bison (wisent), a species so

magnificent autumns with multicoloured blan-

the hill while watched from close distance, and

far saved from extinction.

kets covering the hills, and evergreen stretch-

canopies of tree crowns – especially beautiful

Many of Małopolska’s forests are cov-

es of conifers that do not change their colour

while they change colours in the autumn – also

ered by nature reservations and left in

throughout the year, even though their entire

when watched from a distance.

their natural state, with fallen trees left

setting does. In many places, the two types of

to rot and feed tree funguses: a true

trees grow together, gracing the forests with

insight into what forests looked like

both the seasonal change and the permanence

before all the modern forest economy

of the evergreens.


and regulations prevalent all over the European Union.

splendid wooded areas with both deciduous and evergreen trees.

By far the most famous forest in the region is the Puszcza Niepołomicka: a tiny remnant of prehistoric forests that covered most of the land before it was used for farming agricultural purposes. A hunting ground for successive kings of Poland, the Puszcza Niepołomicka primeval forest embraces the town of Niepołomice with its royal hunting castle. 118


Surprises in the landscape: desert and lakes ↘↘



Whatever you remember from school about Europe’s climate, one thing is certain: it has deserts. Or, rather, to be exact – one. The Błędowska Desert to be precise. Surprise? Indeed!

In the town of Czchów and the village of

Some things are better not taken for granted,

something of a puzzle to naturalists. Even

Wytrzyszczka by the Czchowski Reser-

as reality can surprise us so much. This is the

though ecologists have for a few decades

voir, impossible to pronounce for non-

case with the landscapes of Małopolska Re-

tried to make it green and forested, and the

Poles, a castle tower and a small castle

gion, in whose valleys among the rolling hills

desert has been reduced by more than a half,

have recently been reconstructed.

there suddenly appear lakes and man-made

there are still large stretches of sandy dunes,

In turn, Poland’s largest dam allowed

reservoirs. Some of the latter are filling up

and – if your luck holds even today you can

the establishment of the Czorsztyński

with mud, which though not convenient for

see a mirage here. The Błędowska Desert,

Reservoir, which reflects two medieval

the economy – builds picturesque shoals and

which has already hosted Polish filmmakers,

castles: Czorsztyn and Niedzica [d Cas-

archipelagoes of miniature islands, so pleasing

is frequently the set for more or less formal

tles of Małopolska, p. 81].

on the eye.

all-terrain driving and live action role-playing

Set on the banks of the lakes – in some

A peculiarity of the Tatras – Poland’s

cases for 800 years – have been castles

only alpine mountains is its numerous lakes

and churches, picturesquely and some-

scattered throughout the central part of the

what pensively reflecting in their waters.

mountains. An ancient legend has it that the

groups, some of whom turn it into the world of Frank Herbert’s Dune series or Mad Max.

largest one of them has a “secret” underground passage connecting it to the sea, some 1000 km distant. An even greater surprise is the Błędowska Desert: a unique area whose origin is still 120


Surprises in the landscape: desert and lakes



The seasons:

Whether or not the climate is warming up, Małopolska Region retains its

gilded by the sun, silvered by the snows

beauty throughout the year. Especially as the number of sunny days has


The absence of foliage in winter is

The four seasons strongly affect the life cycle

of the conifers. And when winter comes, the

particularly conducive to interesting

of Małopolska’s inhabitants, especially those

evergreens preserve their colour against the

panoramas of the cities, where built

whose business depends on nature.

general whiteness. Thanks to the snow cov-

heritage emerges from behind the green



recently been on the rise.

The wild explosion of green that comes

cloak concealing it in other seasons.

in the spring is long sustained, as there are

The “Golden Polish Autumn” became

different types of vegetation which do not

a brand decades ago, and defines

all bud and later flower at the same time,

the sunny spell that usually begins in

extending the period of spring “freshness”

September and may continue till early

somewhat longer than in many other places


in Europe. When many plants, and especially

With winter temperatures sometimes

trees, are still in bloom, the first fruit is already

dropping below -20°C (-5°F), and frost

harvested from the fields – an unmistakable

painting the window panes with fractal

mark of summer.

decorations, the climate and the snow

er, local winters are bereft of that grey, drab quality that torments the eye further south.

This is followed by autumn (fall), which is

cover make it easy to recreate Arctic

often hailed as the most beautiful and “Polish”

and Siberian panoramas, without the

season. With their mixed trees, the forests of

torments of their frosts.

Małopolska Region not only turn all shades of yellow, orange, amber, red, and brown, but also retain the frequently very deep greens 124


We know our enthusiasts of horseriding of all styles and colours well, and will be pleased to get you in touch with the right ones.

Among horse masters

↘↘ ↘↘


Before the planes and trains came, for many centuries transport relied on horses.

It’s good to remember that in the past

Poland, where 10% of the population were

patience. Today, the country and the region

people were shorter than they are today,

nobility, was definitely an equestrian country.

are well known for the large number of capa-

and so were the horses they rode.

Besides riding, horses were used for trans-

ble horse riders, many of whom are members

In the 17th century, no European army

port – from peasants’ wains to monarchs’

of knightly brotherhoods, re-enacting events

could break the siege of Vienna laid

ornamented carriages. Although horses are

from the past, often in exact copies of mag-

by the Turkish army until the arrival of

hardly ever used for transport, the equestrian

nificent historical costumes.

the Polish winged knights – husarze –

tradition continues. Stables and riding schools

whose impetus broke the enemy ranks.

are abundant, and horse riding has become

Famous and craved for centuries, the

a popular skill.

Polish cavalry continued to fight even

The region provides not only perfect loca-

well into the 20th century, being victo-

tions for galloping cavalry, a host of huntsmen

rious e.g. during the Bolshevik war of

cantering through woods, and ladies trotting


leisurely on a country road towards a stately home, but also some unique horse breeds. The Hutzul from eastern Małopolska Region is a pony-sized horse perfect for hippotherapy and recreation, which has proved great for film productions. Crews especially appreciate and admire their intelligence and 126


We know a lot about the workings and complexities of the traditional dress. For example, Highlanders “down south” prefer whites to the navy blues of their cousins living further to the east. We’ll gladly help you with the hue of your preference.

Colours and customs

Some are well known all over Poland, while others have almost become forgotten and remain known only locally or to aficionados.


Although no longer worn for everyday

Interestingly, the costumes of two localities

that its owner did not have to work to make

work, the colourful regional costumes

within Małopolska Region are counted among

ends meet.

are still donned, especially for church

the three “national” Polish costumes. They are

There are also some costumes that are

holidays. Many observers have noticed

the Highlander clothes: very practical in the

worn only for one special occasion (e.g. for the

that, unlike film extras, local people,

chilly winds, whether you work as a lumber-

traditional splashing of young girls with water

and especially Highlanders, wear their

jack or tend to sheep, and that of the Kraków

on Easter Monday) each year.

costumes as a “second skin” – with

region – much more decorative, not to say

Someone said that Zalipie is “just a whole

absolutely no trace of artificiality.

glamorous. Yet even the ones from the poorest

village dressed up”. They could not have been

mountainous regions are a way of showing

closer to the truth: everything from wells and

pride and individuality – in the part of Poland

dog kennels to whole cottages is painted here

most distant from the sea, using seashells

with gaudy flowers.

to decorate your hat became a sign of high status, much higher than an eagle feather (common) stuck in it. Small towns had their costumes too. In the case of the petty bourgeoisie, the costume was there to emphasise wealth, frequently mirrored the fashion from the capital (in the 19th century: Vienna), and might hint 128


Colours and customs



Andrzej Wajda: Kraków is a city made for film

Kraków is the city of the kings of Poland, and

Everything is here: from inexhaustible

at the same time a place with such a sense of

sources of inspiration for film production –

latest, updated information on Kraków and

“homeliness” that a Japanese person can feel

be it material heritage or knowledge, spirit

Małopolska locations, and everything con-

at home here. Here, visitors will find Gothic

or legends.

nected to the film industry around here:

churches with the high altar by Wit Stwosz, the university precinct with Collegium Maius,

Kraków, the capital of Małopolska Region, is a filmmaker’s dream location.

the magnificence of Wawel Castle with Eu-

The book we deliver to you contains the

institutions, companies, festivals. However, in honour of the late Andrzej Wajda, the greatest filmmaker connected to Kraków

rope’s largest Renaissance courtyard, and


(four nominations for an Academy Award

– among the modern works – the Manggha

Andrzej Wajda

for Best Foreign Language Film and an

Museum, designed by the Japanese architect

Honorary Oscar “in recognition of five

Arata Isozaki.

decades of extraordinary film direction”),

On the one hand, those who designed

we have retained for you his foreword

the Main Market Square 750 years ago did

to the original edition of this publication

so with such foresight and vision that today

from 2012.

the popular café gardens in the square can accommodate more people than lived in the entire city long after its chartering, and on the other, Kraków is full of narrow streets and nooks, also in its district of Kazimierz. 132


We hope you have enjoyed this brief visual and verbal presentation of our broad offer. Due to limited space we were unable to fit the whole of our region and city, together with their material and intangible heritage, into this book. Although we have made every effort to make this book worthy of you, we realise that every film project has specific needs, therefore we do encourage you to contact us.

Yours, The Set the Scene team of the Krakow Film Commission

Contents: This is where we are located and this is where we welcome you . . . . . . . . I

Museums of technology: when the cutting edge turns vintage . . . . . . . 63

Krakow Film Commission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . V

Małopolska Region: where the imagination roams. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

Krakow Regional Film Fund . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VI

Open-air museums: ready-made locations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

Krakow Festival Office . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IX

Steam power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

Film festivals in Kraków . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X

Wooden churches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Places of worship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

Our selected projects: this is what we have done so far . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Castles of Małopolska: the solitary and imposing icons of the region. . 81

Invitation from Krakow Film Commission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Mansions: homes to the aristocracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85

Comfortable home on the set . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

A nobleman’s life in the country: manor houses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

Kraków: centre of the world . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Wooden heritage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

Wawel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Local towns: so small and so varied . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

The Main Market Square: the centre of all things. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Jews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101

St Mary’s Church: the worth of a pearl is not measured

Krynica: the spa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103

by its regularity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

Wieliczka and Bochnia: sublime underground kingdoms

Architecture: testimony to universalism and diversity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

waiting for lights and lenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105

Genius loci . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

Mountains: a touch of the sublime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109

Kazimierz: a city within a city . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

River gorges: Pieniny . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111

Architecture – model, though unique: forts, mounds, monuments . . . 41

Castles perched on rocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113

Building universal architecture for the modern city . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

Wonders in the landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115

Art Nouveau and the end of an empire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

A country of fields. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117

Turn to the classical form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

Forests: nature’s ever-changing colour palette. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119

Second world war: Europe under Nazi occupation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Surprises in the landscape: desert and lakes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .121

Nazi death industry: ghettos and concentration camps . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

The seasons: gilded by the sun, silvered by the snows . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125

Communist legacy and its concrete heritage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

Among horse masters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127

Modernity melding into tradition: the new river front . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

Colours and customs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 Andrzej Wajda: Kraków is a city made for film . . . . . . . . . . . . . .134 . . . . . . 135 .133

Architecture in the service of culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Photographs: przeMysław czaja: 13, 15, 18, 19, 21, 23, 30, 36, jaceK drygała: 4,

© 2019, Krakowskie Biuro Festiwalowe | Krakow Festival Office

6 (x2), Bruno fidrych/plasTersTudio: 64, filM polsKa archive: 8, wojciech gorgolewsKi: 16–17, 20, glinKa agency: 5, a. golec: 6,

First edition 2012 | Second edition 2019

MarTa gosTKiewicz: 4, grzegorz harTfiel: 7, 9, a. KliMowsKi: 67, 68, 69, 72, 95, 98, 99, 111, 116, 117, 118, 119, 123, 124, 125, 127, 129,

Publisher: Krakow Festival Office

Michał łuczaK: 5, Magic Mountain (filM sTill): 6, MaKufly: 7,

Director: Izabela Helbin

Marshal’s office of The MałopolsKa region archive: 84, 108, 109, 110, 120, 122, 126, 128, 130, 131, paweł Mazur: 12, 13, 22,

ul. Wygrana 2, 30-311 Kraków, Poland

25, 26, 28, 29, 32, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48,

phone: +48 12 354 25 00, fax: +48 12 354 25 01

50, 52, 53, 65, 69, 70, 72, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 82, 85,

86, 87, 88, 90 (x2), 91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 100, 102, 103, 104, 106,

107, 112, 113, 114, 115, 132, BarTeK MrozowsKi: 5, 7, roBerT pałKa: 5, Michalina rodzińsKa: 7, doroTa&paTryK słoTwińscy:

Project coordination: Natalia Woda

66, 69 (x2), sTorMann&weBBer: 59, K. Turyna: 117, wojciech

Text and editing: Piotr Krasnowolski

wandzel: 3, 10, 14, 24, 31, 33, 37, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 101, 129,

Editorial consultant: Grzegorz Słącz

ToMasz wiech: 2, szyMon wiTKowsKi (KBf archive): 40, 41, 54,

Language consultant: Benjamin Koschalka

56, 82, 83.

Editorial collaboration: Barbara Skowrońska Graphic design and typesetting: Katarzyna Wolny-Grządziel Graphic design collaboration: Jacek Florek ISBN: 978-83-65270-41-2 Print: PETIT. Skład–Druk–Oprawa. Wojciech Guz i Wspólnicy Spółka Komandytowa

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Krakow and Lesser Poland - Location Guide  

Set + the Scene Kraków & Małopolska LOCATION GUIDE

Krakow and Lesser Poland - Location Guide  

Set + the Scene Kraków & Małopolska LOCATION GUIDE