Krakow Royal Way – Barbakan, Florian Gate, Florianska9 July, 2009
Barbakan was built in the 15th century as the biggest European defense building of its kind. The Gothic Barbakan was meant to defend the Florian Gate. The Barbakan was an important part of Cracow’s fortifications, and deadly projectiles were cast at anyone who dared to threaten the Polish capital. The three rows of the Barbican’s loopholes were filled with archers or riflemen whose shots wrecked havoc amongst the enemy lines. Along with the City Walls, the Barbican made Krakow an impregnable fortress.
Surrounded, along with the rest of Krakow, by a eight-meter-deep and twenty-meter-wide moat, and linked to the Florianska Gate, the Barbican was a relatively safe place.
The Barbican had its brave defenders, who used measures much more bizarre than one’s own breakfast. When Krakow was attacked by the Russians in the 18th century, a Krakow burgher named Marcin Oracewicz, for lack of other ammunition, shot an enemy colonel with his own button.
Florian Gate is the only part of the town where ancient walls have survived. It consists of four towers and the arsenal and gives you a good idea of what the five kilometers of walls around the Old City looked like in the Middle Ages.
Walking along Florianska – an bustling street with living advertisements, lots of kebab + ice-cream shops and street artists. The road leading from Florian Gate straight to Wawel Castle is known as Royal Way.
The Royal Way, which leads right through the heart of the city, was once the route of Royal processions and funerals. Even after the capital moved to Warsaw in 1596, Cracow remained the venue for such events, and kings were almost always crowned and buried here.