Miracle on Clean Street

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14th-century Krakow was saved from the barbarians by the neck of a solitary trumpeter. Now, eleven years on from Poland's last great upheaval, the city is in need of no such inadvertant heroism. This city is swinging...
 
 
It was the trumpet fanfare that convinced me, when I first arrived in Krakow 20 years ago, that this crumbling old city was the perfect place to stay. Mostly because the concept was - is - so utterly crazy. On the hour, every hour, in a city that still likes to live off memories of now-faded grandeur (Warsaw is the rich upstart; Krakow has the insouciance of the faded aristocrat, short of cash but confident of its unmatched pedigree) a trumpet call sounds from the tower of St Mary's Church, high above the Rynek market square in Poland's former royal capital. The fanfare is played from the north, south, east and west windows of the 14th-century church tower, four long and stately blasts. The final phrase is interrupted in strangled mid-note, commemorating the occasion when a city sentry thus alerted the population to the threat from the approaching Mongol hordes. A Tartar arrow pierced the trumpeter's throat - but not before his incomplete tarantara... aaargh helped to save the city.
 
 
 
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Source: Independent
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