The drive to Kraków was long and beautiful, with a KFC every few miles! The bridges were fantastic and the forests dark and mysterious. Clouds kept the drive from getting too hot and added interest to the drive. We spent the weekend in Kraków. There was so much to see there we didn’t explore anything else. Our host’s dogs, Onyx and Amber, like to play soccer with their ball! Onyx is good keeping the ball going and Amber is good at chasing Onyx and cheering her on. Lori took us into Kraków for a short tour the evening we arrived. Kraków started as a hamlet on Wawel Hill and is the second largest, and one of the oldest city in Poland. It dates back to sometime int he 7th century! By 965 it was reported as a busy trading center in Europe.Following the invasion of Poland in September 1939 by Nazi Germany, Kraków became part of the Nazi’s General Government and eventually its capital. It was headed by Hans Frank who was based in Wawel Castle. The Nazis envisioned turning Kraków into a completely German city after removing all Jews and Poles. Legend says women saved this portion of old city walls from being destroyed by the men. They told the men that if this wall were taken down, the wind would gust through the market square and lift the ladies’ skirts on their way to church, thus embarrassing the women and making the men think badly of them. So the men did not tear down this wall. This is how the women saved the wall of Kraków. There are roughly 120 churches registered in Kraków. We walked by many, and went into only two (St. Mary’s Basilica and the other were a wedding was taking place, so no pictures were allowed). Cloth Hall was originally designed in the 14th century as a center for international trade. The ground floor is continually used for commerce with its many souvenir shops and cafés; upstairs houses the Gallery of the National Museum. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.We did not spend much time at Wawel Castle because we had so many other things to see, but it was lovely! And the other tourists were a HOOT to watch!Legend tells about a dragon, Smok Wawelski, who was terrorizing Kraków during the reign of King Krakus, the city’s legendary founder. Each day the evil dragon would reign down destruction across the countryside, killing the civilians and devouring their livestock. The king wanted to put an end to the dragon, but his bravest knights failed. In desperation, the King promised his beautiful daughter Wanda’s hand in marriage to anyone who could defeat the dragon. Great warriors from near and far fought for the prize and failed. One day a poor cobbler grew tired of the ongoing terror. He stuffed a lamb with sulfur and set it outside the dragon’s cave. The dragon ate it and became incredibly thirsty. He turned to the Vistula River for relief and drank and drank, but no amount of water could quench his aching stomach and after swelling up from drinking half the Vistula river, he exploded. The cobbler refused the princess’s hand in marriage because his wife would not be happy. Read more legend versions about the dragon here. During the reign of Casimir III the Great (1333 to 1370), St. Mary’s Basilica was rebuilt on the remaining foundation of an earlier church destroyed in the Mongol invasion. Vicar Jacek Augustyn Łopacki had the interior rebuilt in the late Baroque style in the 18th century.Legend says two brothers were hired to design and build St. Mary’s Basilica towers, but they wouldn’t work together. This is why each tower is different. The brother who built the shorter tower was jealous of the other’s tower so killed him. The knife hangs in an arch in the Cloth Market across the square.
Every hour a fire fighter climbs to the top of the main tower to sound a trumpet call, the Hejnał mariacki. The melody is plaintive and historically was played to signal the open and close of the city gates. It stops unexpectedly mid-stream to salute the famous 13th century guard who was shot in the throat by an arrow while playing the tune to warn the city of the coming Tatar invasion.
The extravagant Altarpiece is the largest Gothic altar piece and a national Polish treasure. It was designed and carved out of lime (linden), oak, and larch wood by Veit Stoss (Wit Stwosz) between 1477 and 1484. During the German occupation, the altarpiece was dismantled and shipped to the Third Reich on order of Hans Frank. It was sent to Nuremberg Castle in Bavaria, where it survived heavy bombing to be recovered and returned to Poland in 1946. It underwent major restoration and was put back in its place at the Basilica 10 years later.
Julia took us to the Jewish Quarter where we saw a few Synagogues and an ancient Jewish cemetery. I learned how in the Jewish culture, stones are left on the headstones to tell the family that someone stopped by to pay respects. And thus ended our tour through Kraków. The next day we went back to do our tourist-ly duty of shopping and souvenir buying before we drove to Auschwitz, which I am posting about next week.
The “Frauenkirche” (Church of Our Lady) was first built in 1726-43 by George Bähr. After the bombing of Dresden in 1945, the heat was so great the sandstone church succumbed and was destroyed. The church was left in ruins for 45 years as a memorial and reminder of the war. Rebuilding was started in 1994 and the outside of the church was completed in 2004, consecrated in October 2005 once the inside was complete, and reopened.The dark color of the old stones mingled with the different sized and lighter stones from the re-building resemble old scars of healed wounds, a mosaic of past and present. They also speak of overcoming hostility and hope and reconciliation. The motto of the building project is “Building bridges, living reconciliation, strengthening faith”.I love how people from other countries came together to help rebuild this church, making it a symbol of reconciliation between former enemies.Oh, the splendor of the Frauenkirche in Dresden! The sheer size of this church is alone amazing! The main sanctuary was closed for Mass when we first arrived, so we trekked to the top to get a bird’s eye view of Dresden.From here we were also able to see the old city ruins, which are being built over so the fences block viewing from street level. I think it would have been fun to walk through there. Some of the ruins are already filled in.From our perch we saw the Cathedral and Hausmannsturm in the distance. We later walked past the Cathedral and Palace it is connected to.We also saw City Hall and the Driekönigskirche. We later ate at a little Mexican restaurant named Don Pancho right outside the Driekönigskirche, which was quite the experience! I never thought I’d eat authentic Mexican in Germany! The woman who owns the restaurant imports her spices from Mexico. It is a place to stop if you are ever in Dresden!The Augustusbrücke is the oldest bridge in Dresden, built in 1727 by Augustus II the Strong of Poland and rebuilt in 1907. Further back is the Marienbrücke.Janet is a very good tour guide. Not even her fear of heights kept her from taking us here! The heights are quite dizzy-ing, so I appreciated that Janet took us up and went out on the viewing platform. And she didn’t die! Neither did I. Or Erika. We could see pretty far, even with the fog.The top half of the climb is narrow, winding hallways like this. We were lucky to be able to miss the steps going up by taking the elevator! Seeing into the center of the church, and out the windows, made the walk more interesting.After spending a long time at the viewing platform, 25-ish stories up, we headed back down to see the incredible nave and down to the depths of the Frauenkirche too see the historical displays. Looking from the ground floor up through the many levels of the Frauenkirche to the viewing platform. The ceiling paintings were originally painted by Giovanni Battista Grone of Venice between May and November of 1734. The paintings (and door carvings!) were painstakingly recreated based of old wedding photos and church plans that survived the war.There are original plans on display from 1726, which is how architects determined were each stone should be placed from its place in the rubble based on the stone’s medallion. The altar is glorious in size and detail. Carved from sandstone in 1738 by Johann Christian Feige, it was pieced together after WWII from more than 2,000 fragments. There are 4,876 pipes, and only a small portion are visible The smallest one is less than one centimeter and the largest one is over 5 meters. The altar shows Christ praying alone in Gethsemane with his sleeping disciples and the soldiers approaching to arrest him. A sermon unfolds in the sweeping altar with the message of God’s mercy.
The day we spent in Dresden was partly cloudy and just the right temperature. We took the train in so we wouldn’t have to keep track of the car, or time! We got off the train and took a long walk through Prager Straße.
In shame and sorrow
Remember Christians the Jewish people of this city.
In 1933, 4675 Jews lived in Dresden. 1945 there were 70.
We were silent, as their church burned, deprived of the right of citizenship as Jews, they were expelled and murdered. We did not recognize in them our brothers and sisters.
We ask for forgiveness and Shalom.
Our first stop was at Kreuzkirche (Cross Church), first built around 1168 and was dedicated to Saint Nicholas. It has been through many re-buildings, fires, and renovations from 1401 to 1945. It re-opened in1955 in its current form.
Dresden is a beautiful city built along the Elbe river. Dresden has a wealth of cultural and art treasures and was the residence of sovereigns and kings starting in 1425. Although it was badly destroyed in the Dresden Bombing of 1945, it has been rebuilt and is a splendor to view. We spent some time in Dresden’s Frauenkirche, which I’ll post more about next week. There is entirely too much to see in Dresden in just one day, but we did a fair amount of wandering around and enjoying the views of Elbe, walking through Theatreplatz, seeing König Johann’s statue, the Hofkirche and Royal Palace (Residenzschloss), Semperoper (Semper Opera House), Goldener Reiter, Albertinum, Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, Brühlsche Terrassen…this list would be very long if I listed everything we saw!
My church’s band, Vested Worship, played at Miracles Happen Fest at Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch in Stewartville, MN. They opened for Tenth Avenue North on Saturday.The Camp Director, Bob Badwell, was incredibly generous and provided church members with tickets to come to the Festival. This was exciting news for a friend and I because we weren’t going to be going due to finances. We carpooled with some friends and had a fun road trip to Stewartville.
The drive was hilarious and went by quickly. The sky was clear until we reached Rochester. Then a deluge hit and we all got a shower with lunch. But we dried off before we reached Ironwood Springs; so did the skies.Painted rocks inscribed with verses graced various places throughout the camp, which was a favorite features at Ironwood Springs. There was so much to see so Val, Katelyn, Michelle, and I set off to explore. We walked through the art and craft fair, checked out the food and had some treats. There were many activities including tree climbing, petting zoo, laser tag, mini golf, a Ferris wheel, zip lines, paint ball and more. Val was excited about the pony rides, which had sadly ended before we arrived.We saw Clyde the Camel, who seemed to love Michelle. He walked over to her, ignoring everyone else. Another fun stop was at the Ole Red Barn for Western photos complete with costumes and all sorts of props! This isn’t normally something I do, but it was pretty fun! After seeing the festival events, the four of us walked through the grounds taking in the beauty. Even with all the activity, the grounds felt peaceful. There were sweet little touches of love throughout the ranch including little gnomes and a bridge over the river that runs through the property. The volunteers were all helpful and friendly, adding to the peaceful atmosphere. Finally it was time for the evening’s music to start! Vested Worship started the evening of music with some worship to draw people in. After Vested Worship completed their set, Jeff Deyo, formerly of Sonicflood, took the stage. He was very energetic and more people trickled to the stage. After Jeff Deyo came Sarah Reeves. She kept her set low key with a keyboard and guitarist; her songs were calming. Something about her seems to familiar, but I haven’t figured out why yet. She reminds me of Ellie Holcomb.As Sarah ended, the promise of chicken and ice cream and ice cold water lured Michelle and I away from the stage and we were caught in a downpour of rain. It rained long and hard, completing our second shower for the day. Thankfully, many tents were set up and we were able to stay under one for the worst of the rain. We made it back to the stage in time for Tenth Avenue North at 9pm. While the whole day at Ironwood Springs was fun, Tenth Avenue North was the highlight. The message they bring to the audience is so needed. The lead singer, Mike, is funny (hello, prom queen disciples!). Their message rings true and was refreshing. Really, it was more like hanging out with friends and singing loud than attending a concert. “We’re not here to sing TO you, but to sing WITH you.”
Here are some of the songs they sang with links to the music videos. I hope they encourage you as much as they have encouraged me.
You Are More – The labels we create for ourselves and others should not define us, unless we use Child of God – the one true label. Mike said as Tenth Avenue North, they are not Musicians (with the labels of famous, special, etc.) but Children of God who happen to play music.
Struggle – As children raising our hands meant we wanted our parent to come pick us up. Mike compared this to us raising our hands in worship to the King of kings. Think to how quickly a parent runs to pick up their child when those precious little hands are raised. How much more does our Heavenly Father run to us when we lift our hands to him?
Worn – Life is messy. Often we do not receive resolution of events in the world or in personal life. Life doesn’t turn out perfectly all the time, many things are not resolved, but God redeems those times. He uses them for His glory. They are not a waste, but a time to lean even closer on God and trust him and his plan for my life. God is not a God of resolution, but a God of Redemption.
I Have This Hope – When life slams me against the wall, how am I going to respond? “So I have this hope in the depth of my soul. In the flood or the fire. You’re with me. You won’t let go.” Yes and amen!
Driving home was a hoot (exploding salad, extra burger, and frostys thankyouverymuch). It was so late and I was so tired. But it was worth it.
The bell tower of Meissen’s Frauenkirche can be seen from Janet’s living room. The porcelain bells are made in 1929 to commemorate Meissen’s 1,000 year jubilee. The bells toll all day long and can be heard all over. I was a bit worried at first that the bells would keep me awake all night, but I slept through them each night. I got used to telling time by them (they rang every 15 minutes!) and hearing for the tolls that rang for 10 minutes which announced it was either 7am, noon, 5pm, or 6pm. Then at certain half-hours during the day, tunes would ring instead of the usual half hour tone.
Coming home, I miss the bells.The Frauenkirche Meissen was first mentioned in history in 1205 by Bishop Dietrich II and is located in the old market place. After a fire broke out, the church was rebuilt, completed in 1450 in the late Gothic style. The Baroque cupola and a tower keeper’s apartment were built after a lightning strike in 1547. The inside is beautiful in its simple elegance. The ceilings mimic Albrechtsburg’s and in each area the flowers on the ceiling are slightly different. There are many magnificent stained glass windows and a beautiful altar. Janet related an interesting tidbit about this church. Several years ago, the building started splitting in half. The church was closed immediately for safety and the cause of the breaking about down the middle was investigated. It was discovered that the church had been built half on stone, half on sand! It reminds me of Matthew 7:24-27. The building was under construction for almost four years to correct this and re-opened the week before my arrival.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Janet and I took a tour bus up to Castle Hill, where Albrechtsburg and the Cathedral still stand. King Heinrich I founded the fortress “Misnia” on the castle hill high above the Elbe river in 929. The Cathedral was built between 1260 -1425. The twin towers were added later in 1909.
The Meissen Cathedral or Church of St John and St Donatus (German: Meißner Dom) is a Gothic church in Meissen in Saxony. In 1581 the Meissen diocese was dissolved in the course of the Protestant Reformation, and the church was used by the Protestant Church since. It is the cathedral church of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Saxony. We did not make it inside except for the Room of Silence because we decided to tour the castle first and that took long enough that we only had a few minutes to catch the last bus back down to Meissen. There is a lovely little courtyard outside that we spent a lovely minute in. This bridge is the second oldest bridge still standing in Germany, leading up to Albrechtsburg and the Cathedral. Next week I will take you on a tour inside Albrechtsburg, the Meissen Castle!