Krakow – The Kościuszko Mound together with its surroundings, Kraków
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Krakow – The Kościuszko Mound together with its surroundings

Kraków

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Value of the monument

The Kościuszko Mound complex in Krakow together with the Chapel of the Blessed Bronislava, Fort Citadel 2 “Kościuszko” and the George Washington Alley constitute a monument complex with particularly high historical, compositional and landscape value. The Kościuszko Mound is a testimony of Polish patriotism, the will to overcome the partition disaster, the determination to preserve the national identity, a proof of worship of the leader of the Kościuszko Uprising, who donned a Krakow russet coat and symbolically introduced peasants armed with scythes into the ranks of conscious defenders of their homeland and citizens. It is a perfect work of engineering, as well as a distinctive and important element of the cultural landscape of Krakow. The fortifications of the Krakow Fortress, represented by Fort Citadel 2 “Kościuszko” together with accompanying creations, are valuable monuments of European military architecture, as well as a complex and multi-layered testimony to the history of Poland in the 19th century.

History

Tadeusz Kościuszko, Commander in Chief of the National Armed Forces during the uprising of 1794, formerly a general of the Polish army, participant of the Polish-Russian War of 1792 and the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), is one of the national heroes whose actual immense achievements have been further multiplied by legends. He became a symbol of the fight for independence of Poland and democracy in the United States. As the “Commander in Chief in a russet coat” and author of the Proclamation of Połaniec, he was a patron of the efforts of Polish peasants striving for civil liberties and became a symbolic figure for the peasant movement. Throughout the entire duration of the partition of Poland, Tadeusz Kościuszko had a place in the pantheon of great Poles as a symbol of perseverance, the victor from Racławice, advocate of the people, a personified and universally recognisable symbol of the fight for independence. The burial of Tadeusz Kościuszko at the Wawel Castle, which was held on 22-23 June 1818, was a national ceremony and demonstration, an element interrupting the atmosphere of lost hope for the rebirth of Poland which had been placed in Napoleon. The need to commemorate the national hero, as well as create a symbol of the fight for independence, was the foundation for the decision to create of the Mound. The form of the monument was a reference to pre-historic Krakow mounds - graves of the legendary rulers Krakus and Wanda, who are associated with the beginnings of Polish statehood. The mound was formed in the years 1820-1823. It was located on the Hill of the Blessed Bronislava, which dominates the landscape of Krakow and can be seen clearly from the Wawel Castle. In this way, a romantic landscape composition was created which became a permanent part of the panorama of Krakow. From the very beginning, it was a symbol of patriotism and solidarity of the Polish nation which had been deprived of its statehood by the partitioners. The creation thereof was a result of dedication of all social classes, which participated both in making a financial contribution, which was announced in the press across all partitions, and in the actual formation of the Mound. Thus, the Mound created with the joint effort became national property and was considered the last part of the independent Poland.

In the mid-19th century, due to Krakow being transformed into a frontier fortress, the Austrian military authorities assumed control over the entire area of the hill, including the Mound and the Chapel of the Blessed Bronislava. In connection with protests and petitions, which reached even Emperor Franz Joseph I himself, the Mound, despite being situated in the centre of the fortifications of the Fortress, was passed to the Committee for Construction of the Kościuszko Mound, which had cared for preservation of the Mound ever since its creation. The Mound was accessible to visitors without any interruption every day from sunrise to sunset, with the exception of periods of war and other military circumstances. The situation was all the more remarkable due to the fact that one of the most monumental fortification facilities of the Fortress, the Fort Citadel 2 constructed in the years 1850-1856, was designed in such a way that is absorbed the mound-cum-monument into its structure, and in official nomenclature of the Fortress it was called Fort Citadel 2 “Kościuszko”. Thus, the name of a Polish national hero was included in the nomenclature of a Habsburg fortress. The monument-cum-grave remained a destination of patriotic pilgrimages of Poles from all partitions and a symbolic backdrop for ceremonies held at the Krakow Błonia. During World War II, Germans intended to destroy the Mound, as it was a clear symbol of Polishness, but they did not put their plan into action. In the second half of the 20th century, part of the fort facilities were devastated. As a result of conservation practices, currently the fort houses a museum of Tadeusz Kościuszko and holds exhibitions connected with the mound, the fight for independence and the history of the Krakow Fortress.

Description

The Tadeusz Kościuszko Mound together with Fort Citadel 2 “Kościuszko” are located on the Hill of the Blessed Bronislava in the eastern part of the Sowiniec Range, which is also the westernmost elevation of the Tenczynek Ridge. The Hill is located on the right bank of the Vistula river, approximately 3 km from the centre of Krakow. Its height is 300 m above the sea level. The Mound can be accessed from the Zwierzyniec district from the George Washington Alley - a driving road with trees planted on both sides, historical fortress road and former travel path. The Mound is an earth structure made from local loess-like soils. The Mound has the form of a steep, truncated cone whose height is 34 m (the summit is 134 m above the level of the Vistula river) and diameter approximately 80 m at the base. Its volume amounts to 64,134 m3, and the total area of the slopes is approximately 6,000 m2. The only construction element of the Mound consists of a twenty-metre-long pine trunk which marks the internal axis of the structure. Apart from the soil from the Hill of the Blessed Bronislava, another ideologically important material used to form the Mound was soil transported from important battlefields: from Racławice, Maciejowice, Dubienka, Szczekociny, as well as soil from the battlefields in Saratoga and Yorktown, which was placed in the Mound on the 150th anniversary of signature of the United States Declaration of Independence. The slopes of the mound are covered with grass. Around the body, there is a double volute of intersecting paths, whose total length amounts to approx. 1 km and width to approx. 1 m, paved with granite on sand ballast. On the top of the Mound, there is an observation deck with a diameter of approx. 8.5 m, surrounded with a stone balustrade. In the middle of the deck, there is a granite boulder, which weighs several hundred kilogrammes, with the inscription “Kościuszce” (“In memory of Kościuszko”), which was transported from the Bystry stream in Kuźnice near Zakopane. The Mound is situated in the central part of the fort facilities; however, it remains autonomous. The autonomy is emphasised by a 7-metre-high and approx. 90-metre-wide brick wall which clips the slopes of the mound, while also serving as a retaining wall. From the west, the wall incorporates the neo-Gothic Chapel of the Blessed Bronislava, which was erected in accordance with the project by Feliks Księżarski. Right next to the chapel, there is the entrance to the Mound. The chapel is made of brick. In the apse, there is a neo-Gothic wooden altarpiece with a painting depicting a praying Blessed Bronislava and the Holy Trinity, signed “Dobyschowsky, 1860”. The architecture of the fort is maintained in the style of mature Historicism, with neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance forms. The fortifications are partially made of brick and partially of earth. The revetment had a layout similar to that of a hexagon. The front section of the fort, from the west, was made up by three large bastions connected by way of curtain walls with casemates. From the east, there was a two-storey barracks section, accentuated on the axis with a caponier and flanked with two smaller puntone bastions, which were connected with the retaining wall of the Mound by way of internal gorge caponiers (northern and southern).

General information

  • Type: masterpiece of architecture and engineering
  • Chronology: 1820 - 1823
  • Form of protection: history monument
  • Address: Kraków
  • Location: Voivodeship małopolskie, district Kraków, commune Kraków
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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