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Black Madonna

May 23, 2013

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

After a delicious buffet breakfast once again, we loaded onto the big Globus bus at 7:30 am to leave the beautiful city of Warsaw. We left for Krakow, which is one of the oldest and most magnificent cities in Central Europe, apparently. At one time it was the capital of Poland, as well. We had our first  stop in the city of Czestochowa,  at the immense 14th century  Cathedral of Saint John. Well, I have seen a lot of beautiful churches but this one is the most spectacular religious site I have visited yet. Unbelievable, the beauty of it inside and out. It just boggles your mind how they built such structures with all the ornate sculptures, etc. The Polish people are mainly devout Catholics and each year this church has a huge pilgrimage in August where millions of Catholics from all over come to this church. It houses the Blessed Virgin Black Madonna Shrine, which is venerated as the “Queen of Poland” and has become the country’s national symbol.  It was very busy and hundreds of children were having their first communion today and looked so sweet in their very dressy clothing but we had an in- depth tour by a rather comical older priest.  After eating some lunch close by, we boarded the bus to head to Auschwitz, where we visited the Auschwitz Memorial Museum as well as the camp itself, to give us a historical and symbolic reality behind the concept of this place of horror for millions of Jewish and others as well.  It was filled with visitors and our excellent guide took us through every stage of the terror that all those sent here experienced. Again, very distressing but very real and a place I am glad I visited to learn again, more history of the reign of the Third Reich and the terror inflicted on so many innocent peoples. I bought a book called Hope is the Last to Die by Halina Birenbaum, a little Jewish girl who grew up in Warsaw and is actually one of the few survivors of Auschwitz. I am gripped by its contents, as difficult as it is to read. The bus was pretty quiet after this visit, but soon we arrived at our lovely hotel in Krakow and headed for a delicious meal. Afterwards, with a couple from Arkansas, we headed for the main market square, which is just a few minutes’ walk from our Radisson Blu Hotel, for a quick tour. We look forward to our guided tour tomorrow and spending more time there. It is one of the largest and most famous market squares in Central Europe.

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5 Comments
  1. Tracy Millar permalink

    Wow……I want to read that book…….what is the Polish food like or are you eating North American food in the hotels?

  2. Barbara permalink

    I hope you have a chance to hear the trumpeter play the Hejnał Mariacki. It has been played every hour on the hour for several hundred years. Legend has it that in the 11th century, during one of the Mongol invasions, a sentry sounded the alarm from the top of the tower of St Mary’s Church (right off the old town square) by playing this melody. He was able to alert the city and the gates were closed before the army could sweep in. However, the trumpeter was shot through the throat by an arrow and so did not finish the tune. That is why the melody finishes abruptly, on an upward note.
    The best time to hear it is at night, when there is less city noise.

    Also, visit the dragon for good luck…

  3. Denise permalink

    Good photos, like I am right there with you both. The sounds and smells are missing from the photos, although we can fill in the missing senses from knowing the history. Enjoy the days ahead. Denise 🙂

  4. Gary permalink

    OMG…Tracy….my last comment was exactly yours…what do they eat in Poland? Aushwitz is somewhere that I must visit for sure. I bet when your actually there it must be quite terrifying when you think what people saw 60 eyars ago standing in your exact place……….glad those days willl never be again! Enjoy your weekend! love you!

  5. Gary permalink

    Arbeit Macht Frie……great picture……Work Sets you Free. I know they put that on the entrance to Aushwitz so that people entering actually beleived that someday they would be leaving….so terrible!

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