Hidden treasures of Zwierzyniec

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Zwierzyniec, one of Krakow’s districts, may not be the most touristic part of Krakow, however the area has some hidden gems worth visiting. It features beautiful monasteries, churches, mounds and green areas. Some Krakow’s traditions and legends are connected with Zwierzyniec. The district starts on Kosciuszki St. just behind Debnicki bridge and boasts a beautiful location along the Vistula river and The Wolski Forest.

The central place of Zwierzyniec is Salwator, located at the end of Kosciuszki St., on the riverbank. Salwator features a vast complex of buildings including Sisters of St. Norbert Convent (Klasztor Norbertanek) as well as the church of St. Augustine and the church of John the Baptist. The historic complex of convent and church buildings got its present Baroque shape in the early 17th century. Its classicist interiors date back to the 18th century.

Church of St Augustine was founded in 1162, but the original buildings were destroyed during the first Tatar invasion in 1241. Soon a new Gothic church was built, of which a section of the walls survived. The complex was rebuilt in 1596.

Salwator also features two other historic churches located across the street on a little hill: a 17th-century octagonal wooden St. Margaret's Chapel and the 12th century Romanesque stone church of The Saviour (Kosciol Najswietszego Salwatora). The church is surrounded by the former parish cemetery. One of the great Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lew is burried there.

Another attraction of Zwierzyniec district is the 19th-century neo-Gothic Chapel of Blessed Bronislawa, located on the Kosciuszko Mound. The chapel took its name from the 13th century sister of St. Norbert who left the convent and led a hermit's life in the place of the present-day mound.

One of the landmarks of Zwierzyniec is the Monastery of the Cameldolite Brothers perched on the hill in the Wolski Forest, some 7 km west of the city centre. The monastery was established in the first half of the 17th century. It was damaged in 1655 during the Polish-Swedish war and rebuilt after a fire in 1814. The monastery features a beautiful Baroque fasades, chapels and paintings. The monastery has a strict monastic rule. Male tourists can visit the monastery only on cetrain hours, while women only on a few days during the year.

Zwierzyniec legends

Krakow's sisters of St. Norbert once owned vast and rich estates, which gave them special place in the history of the city. The convent and its turbulent past inspired many legends. As one of them has it, the monastery's bell, which was sunk by the Tartars in the Vistula river, resurfaces every year on St. John's night (24 June) and its sorrowful toll is heard till the midnight.

Zwierzyniec Festivals


On Easter Monday at the Church of the Holy Saviour in Zwierzyniec, the fair called EMAUS is held. The fair took its name after the exract from the Bible about the apostles going to Emaus.

Lajkonik festivities

Annually, every first Thursday following Corpus Christi day a large crowd of people gather on Salwator. Some men are adorned by oriental garments and hold horse-tail insignia in their hands. The main character of the festivity is Lajkonik, which is a hobby horse dressed in Tartar clothes. After a visit to the monastery Lajkonik sets off for a rip round the streets of the Old Town.

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