As if the street art in Warsaw weren’t enough, the stuff in Krakow blew my mind. Some of the art is genuine street art, done on the sly when no cops are around. The city commissioned other pieces so they were done legally, but that did not diminish the quality at all.
I love how the art is temporary and ever-changing as you can see in some of the photos. But, the art can still have an impact on its audience even as it is crumbling or fading away. I also love that sometimes the art is politically charged and socially aware of the commentary it’s creating. Other times, the art is fantastically whimsical and light-hearted in a child-like way.
Krakow’s street art really opened my eyes to new mediums of street art. The artists used different materials to create their designs in addition to the spray paint. I also noticed many techniques, including stenciling, stickers and the use of wheat paste to glue items to the wall.
Whether the piece is large or small, the creativity found within Krakow’s subculture is pretty sweet. Juxtaposed against the historical Old Town, the art seems to have an even deeper significance. It amazed me that a city would allow this type of thing to continue. I mean, I loved it, but most city officials probably think it’s crap (unless they paid for it of course). Despite being such an old place historically, Krakow is uniquely modern in other ways – progressive even. If you ever get a chance to visit, I would definitely recommend that you take the free walking tour and learn more about the city’s street art and history.
In recent days, I managed to take in some free walking tours that took me around the city and discussed a variety of topics. With several tour companies offering similar services, you simply select the tours that best match your schedule. These tours have something for everyone whether you’re into World War II history, the Jewish experience, modern-day alternative Warsaw or a foodie trail.
Personally, I took the alternative Warsaw tour, Jewish tour and the World War II historical tour. My knowledge of history is seriously lacking, so these tours combined education with sightseeing. Being able to see firsthand what’s inside history books is an experience you can’t forget.
Many stops on the tours took in memorial sites and monuments raised in the name of the fallen. Etched in the pavement where a Jewish ghetto wall once stood are dates so that no one forgets what happened there. Parks in the middle of the city have raised hills of grass under which lies the rubble of fallen buildings. Reminders of the past stand stoically amidst the hustle and bustle of this modern city.
Yet it seems that despite all the hardship the people of this city and nation have endured in the last century, they continue to look forward. Houses of worship and pillars of education stand with open doors for people seeking wisdom. The educated are no longer persecuted. Thought leaders aren’t dragged from their homes and shipped away. People are free to pursue their interests. It’s an incredible thing that I’ve just taken for granted. It’s only when listening to the stories of the past that I really understand how lucky we are today.
After spending more than eight hours a day on foot discovering Warsaw, I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface. A second, in-depth visit is definitely warranted as I haven’t really been able to get out of the city or even experience what it’s like to live here as a local. To be honest, I haven’t even had time to taste the local delicacies or check out the nightlife. All I’ve had time for between tours is a quick bite at a café and an early night in so I can get up and do it all again in the morning. All too quickly, it’s time to move on to Krakow.
Just a quick post of some street art in the Praga District. It’s definitely interesting to find such huge murals in the older section of the city, one that has many original buildings. But, I guess this area is also the “alternative” area, the “dangerous” area where tourists shouldn’t venture alone. I don’t really know how true this is (especially during the daytime), but I guess this is where you’d find this type of art. It was a nice surprise.
Filed under Culture, Poland