Kraków, the city of mounds - meet the largest one.
I like to write about Krakow mounds; I love to visit them. When you look at each one individually, you may not notice that they are elements of the same picture; they are the consequence of history. Our ancestors built them - thousands, hundreds, tens of years ago. Three of them were built in the 20th century, and I think we haven't said the last word yet. I am fascinated by the fact that in modern times we still reach for such an archaic and, at the same time, fundamental way to pay tribute to a specific person or idea.
There are currently five mounds in Krakow. Two of them - the Wanda and Krakus mounds - are ancient and mysterious objects of unknown origin and purpose. To this day, you can hear legends and speculations about their creation. Was it the burial place of mythical rulers, Celtic tombs, or an area of pagan worship? Nobody knows for sure.
I already wrote about them some time ago; Today, I would like to tell you about another mound, which is not as mysterious as the two mentioned but equally significant.
Construction of the mound began in 1934. It was supposed to be a monument of the nation's struggle for independence. While the mound was still under construction, Józef Piłsudski, a Polish soldier, politician, and statesman, died in 1935. He was and still is a controversial figure, he has both supporters and critics, but his name is known to every Pole. It is inextricably associated with Poland regaining freedom in 1918, after 120 years of captivity under the partitions. No wonder that in 1935 the mound was named after Piłsudski. Independence and Piłsudski are still almost synonyms in the Polish dictionary.
I love to rummage through old photos, and I found some interesting pictures from the mound's construction. As you can see, it was a serious construction project. The slope of the hill was strengthened to prevent from washing away and landslides.
Images below are available in the National Digital Archives (in the public domain). You can find links to the pictures below my post.
The Piłsudski Mound is 35 meters high and is the tallest mound in Poland. Built on the highest hill in the Wolski Forest, located on the outskirts of Krakow, it is an ideal destination for walks. Many paths and trails lead to it. For example, the 6 km long black Trail of Two Mounds connects the Kościuszko Mound with the Piłsudski Mound.
It is worth taking a walk to see both mounds.
So I started my walk from the Kościuszko Mound. It looks imposing because it is surrounded by fortifications belonging to the Krakow Fortress (Festung Krakau).
I have been on its top several times this year, so this time I didn't climb it, although it was tempting. The day was beautiful, and I bet the views were too.
After a short visit to Kościuszko, I set off towards the Wolski Forest. Almost the entire route ran through parks and forests with picturesque viewpoints.
Each of the numerous paths in the Wolski Forest offers surprises.
If you choose to stay on the black trail, you will come across rocks.
You can also choose the path next to the zoo and find a small cafe with veg delicacies hidden in the forest.
Still, all the paths lead to the mound.
The hill has a diameter of over 100 meters and a height of 35 meters - no wonder that the construction took three years.
Time to go up!
It didn't seem too difficult at first - the sidewalk was wide and comfortable, but I started afraid on the second level. Unlimited space and the city emerging from behind the trees intensified the fear of heights.
At the very top, I separated myself from this space with a railing and felt much more confident.
Then I was able to enjoy the views fully.
There is an airport near the mound; many people were waiting for planes to take off and land. I also started to observe them :) It's fantastic that although these machines serve us so many times, they still fascinate us.
Smog often hangs over Krakow; fortunately, the sky was clear during both my visits to the mound.
It is better to observe the city from the Kościuszko or Krakus Mound because they are closer to the city center. The characteristic details are harder to see from the Piłsudski Mound.
However, you can spot something - for example, Wawel Royal Castle. You can see the heat and power plant on the left side - it is much further than castle but overwhelming in size.
And here, you can see the Ferris wheel next to the Vistula River and a viewing balloon. The balloon rises about 150 meters, so the views must be excellent.
I will revisit the Piłsudski Mound for sure, if only because it is surrounded by wooded areas ideal for hiking. It is the fourth Krakow mound described by me; you can find the stories of three others here:
There is one more mound in Krakow, built-in 1997 in honor of John Paul II. It is 7 meters high and, according to some, shouldn't be classified as a mound (minimum height is 10 meters required) - but I won't argue about the details :) So there are currently five mounds in the city. There used to be six; one (Esterka Mound) was unfortunately destroyed in the middle of the last century. It is a pity because it was ancient and as mysterious as the Krakus and Wanda Mound.
I'm the only author of the text and color photos.
Source of archival photos: National Digital Archives, photos under the CC0 license (Public Domain), links: