Kraków’s hikes. Kraków, the city of mounds - it has as many as thirteen of them

View over Kraków from the Mound
Kraków can be explored in different ways. The one who leads in the footsteps of the mounds has the advantage of letting you get to know the city from an unusual perspective. Firstly, you are closer to the sky, and secondly, you look at the city from above. This panorama is priceless. We invite you to join us for a series of Kraków hikes, in which we will show you around the well-known, and sometimes wholly unknown, places in the capital of Małopolska.

Every weekend, Kraków fills up with tourists, and not only those from distant lands. Inhabitants of Silesia and towns and cities of Lesser Poland come for excursions lasting a few hours. Here, we would like to tell you some interesting stories about Kraków.

Kraków has as many as thirteen mounds! The Three Mounds Run sets off every year in the trail of the most popular ones and has the category of mountain run! It starts at Krakus Mound or Lasota Hill (271 metres above sea level), goes through Podgórski Square, the Bernatka Footbridge (known not only to lovers), Inflancki Boulevard by the Vistula River, past the Norbertine Convent under Kościuszko Mound (St Bronisława Hill is 333 metres above sea level) and then follows Washington Avenue and the blue cycling trail straight on to Sowiniec Hill (358 metres above sea level) to Piłsudski Mound.

The route is 13 kilometres long and appeals to runners, walkers and family walks lovers. You can divide the path into two days, Saturday and Sunday, or consecutive weekends. It is worth remembering that apart from these very famous mounds, Kraków also has smaller ones, such as the mound near the Arian-Calvinist cemetery in Łuczanowice or the view-park mounds. The latter stand, among others, in the gardens of the Missionary Fathers’ monastery in Stradom and Wadow near Nowa Huta. There is also a mound commemorating Ukrainians in the Rakowicki cemetery and a mound for those who died of a cholera epidemic in Kobierzyn. It is also true that if it were not for the construction of fortifications, we would have more of these mounds, as there used to be 46 barrows from pagan times on Lasota Hill alone. There were similar mounds in the vicinity of Mogiła, where Wanda’s Mound is still standing today. Krakus Mound, one of those with the most beautiful views of the city, is also connected with the Slavic cult. Some researchers claim that it could have been as high as 20 metres, but the Austrians had to cut down the cone to place an artillery cannon on it while building a fortification around it. But one thing at a time.

Krakus Mound

Krakus Mound, also called Kraka Mound, can be found in Podgórze, a district located on the right bank of the Vistula River. It was raised on Lasota Hill, and Jan Długosz wrote that it was created during the rule of Krak, the legendary founder of Kraków. Research carried out here does not confirm its purpose and does not give reliable information that it was grave. During exploration, remains of an oak tree, a metal cap, coins and ceramic shells were found here. However, nothing indicated that it was the burial place of the legendary Krak or any other ruler. Regardless, it is one of those places from which you can see the most beautiful views of Kraków, a panorama of the royal city. If you want to reach it, you should go through the Jewish district of Kazimierz, over Bernatek’s footbridge and then up Parkowa Street or the so-called “colourful stairs” - Tatrzańska Street. You can also get there through the forest and see the Church of St Benedict and Fort Benedict. The Church is considered the smallest in Kraków. It was built on the site of a previous church from around the year 1000. The fort is part of the Kraków Stronghold, and unfortunately, it is not possible to visit it today. To get to the Mound, you have to climb a gravel road among trees or a makeshift staircase. It is worth it, as from the top, there is a fabulous view of Kraków, the Old Town with the Wawel Castle  and the towers of St Joseph’s Church, Corpus Christi Church, St Andrew’s Church and St Mary’s Basilica. You can also see the Lebanon quarry from the top of the Mound. It is worth going here even after dusk, when you will see Kraków from a completely different aspect, enchanting with all the lights … magical and charming. In the summer, you can relax on the meadow surrounding the Mound, spread out a blanket, light a barbecue. A tree grows here, by some called the tree of love, where many couples get engaged or have their photoshoots.

Kościuszko Mound

Kościuszko Mound can be reached by foot from the city centre. Still, you can also take a tram, stopping at the loop opposite the Norbertine Convent. There are also car parks to stop at. It is worth walking along the chestnut alleyways that lead to this distinctive point on the map of Kraków. The Mound was raised in the Zwierzyniec district, on the hill of the Blessed Bronisława. This is how Cracovians wanted to honour the memory of Tadeusz Kościuszko - a memento that was to be permanent and indestructible. Its construction took three years (1820-1823) and was a great national event. Today, Kościuszko Mound houses the Kościuszko Museum, where you can visit the exhibition “Kościuszko - a hero still needed”, a story about Poland and the defender of Polishness. You can also visit the Citadel fort, which is one of the oldest surviving buildings of the Kraków Fortress. But Kościuszko Mound is also a great viewpoint. From the top, you can see Kraków, with the Wawel Castle, the Main Market Square, the Cloth Hall and St Mary’s Basilica, as well as the Jordan Park, the Kraków Upland, the Sandomierz Basin or the Wielickie Foothills. In good weather, the Tatra Mountains are also revealed.

Piłsudski Mound

If you want to reach the highest hill in Kraków, this is the way to do it. The Sowiniec hill next to the Kraków ZOO is where the most elevated Kraków mound was built - Piłsudski Mound. For those who like statistics, this Mound is 393 metres above sea level and 35 metres high. It is the tallest mound in Poland. For those who want history, it is a place connected with Marshal Józef Piłsudski. The one who came up with the idea to build the Mound was Lieutenant Franciszek Supergan, and it was to be a monument to the nation’s struggle for independence. The laying of the Mound started in 1934, on the 20th anniversary of the departure from Kraków of the 1st Cadre Company of the Legions. After the death of Marshal Jozef Piłsudski, the Mound was named after him. Sadly, it was to be erased both from Poles’ consciousness and the city’s landscape after World War II. Today, it is one of the symbols of Kraków, a place in the Wolski Forest where you can rest, spend time with your family, be in the forest and look at Kraków from a slightly different perspective.

Finally

Perhaps it is worth mentioning at the end that Kraków also has a mound dedicated to John Paul II. It is the youngest and smallest of Kraków’s mounds, raised on the Congregation of the Resurrectionist Fathers in Debniki, in Father Stefan Pawlicki Street. Not counting the cross on top, the mound is seven metres high. An alley planted with thuyas leads to it, ending at the side of the mound with a small stairway. Why not go there occasionally, too?

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