Get to know Krakow

Let Ermine Suites assist you with exploring the history, venues and back alleys of Krakow.

Make your stay in Krakow more diversified.
Let us take you for an incredible tour around some magical and mysterious places in Krakow. Ready? See what is invisible to the daily onlooker!

UL. ŚW. TOMASZA means SAINT THOMAS STREET

This old and doubtless magic street of Krakow is where the bewitching Doubting Thomas Corner is located. The street was charted out out in the Old Town back in 1257 and ever since sections of it changed names time and again. This is the reason it has been known under a variety of names like Szpiglarska (Mirror Maker Street), Żydowska (Jewish), Kącik (Little Corner), Wolbromska (after the town of Wolbrom), Świnia or Świńska (after pigs), Świdnicka (after the town od Świdnica), or Różana (Roses Street) in the 18th and 19th centuries. It did not get its current name of Saint Thomas Street officially until 1881. In 1955-1990, it was named after actor Ludwik Solski. After that, it recovered the name of its patron, Saint Thomas.

Best known buildings:

The Agrarian Society Building

This graceful and fancy building on the corner of Św. Tomasza Street and Szczepański Square was constructed in 1909 on the ruins of a former tenement house to a design by Sławomir Odrzywolski and Władysław Kaczmarski. It is now numbered  8 in Szczepański Square. The sculptural decoration on it shows three male and four female figures that personify husbandry activities. They are between the windows of the third floor.

The Saski Hotel

The hotel stretches the entire block from Sławkowska to Jana Streets along Św. Tomasza Street. It was created by joining the Turczykowski House with the Florkowski House and Skalski House. In 1801, it came into the possession of Maciej Knotz. The name translates to “The Saxony Hotel.” Its dates back to the mid-19th century and derived from a magnificent, representational hall on the first floor, officially called Saxony Room. In the Saxony Room, concerts were given by virtuosos like Francis Liszt, Jan Brahms or Ignacy Paderewski. In 1916, Cinema Sztuka was opened on the ground floor. It resumed activity in 1967 and survived until 1980.

House no. 17

The old walls of the tenement at number 17 Św. Tomasza Street are a truly magic venue, dubbed Doubting Thomas Corner. It is now home to Cafe Camelot, the basements of which are the seat of Teatr Loch Camelot, a successor to the earlier Kabaret Loch Camelot, whose founder Kazimierz Madej came up with the name Doubting Thomas Corner.

The Cyrus House

A corner house that fronts Floriańska Streets at number 12 and faces sideways to Św. Tomasz Street. The first records of the house date from the 17th century when it came into the possession of the Cyrus family. It was thoroughly renovated in 2009.

The Cupid House

The original frame of this typical townhouse remained intact practically till the first half of the 20th century. Its most distinctive feature is a relief of a naked cupid holding up a shield without a coat of arms on it, installed between the windows on the first floor. It is this inconspicuous little cupid that gave the name to the building.

The Squirrel House

The House on the corner of Św. Tomasza and Floriańska Streets takes its name from an emblem on the façade. It was the home of the founder of Krakow’s first surgery clinic, Rafał Józef Czerwiakowski. A plaque on the facade of the building commemorates him with the inscription:  “Rafał Józef Czerwiakowski (1743-1816), the father of Polish surgery, lived and died here.” Before, a local chemist’s had operated here, commonly known as the Golden Star Pharmacy.

LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519)

A common misconception about Leonardo is that he was just a painter. He would have thought of himself as an engineer rather than a painter.  In fact, he was all in one: architect, philosopher, musician, writer, inventor, mathematician, mechanic, anatomist, geologist, explorer and sculptor.

The secret of Lady with an Ermine?

Lady with an Ermine was created around 1490. Leonardo worked on the painting for two years.

The woman portrayed by Leonardo, Cecilia Gallerani , is showed with her gaze wandering sideways towards what is invisible to us. Historical sources indicate that she is looking at her one and only, the one she is destined for, Ludovico Sforza. “Looking at her we can feel there is someone else around. …We see her apparently in conversation with him.”

Every year, millions of people flock to Krakow with this masterpiece on their agenda.

Ermine Suites feels part of Krakow, its history, art and its irresistible charm

Lady with an Ermine (Krakow)

This is Leonardo’s only piece in Poland, now in the holding of the National Museum in Krakow. Lady with an Ermine, 1488-90, oil and distemper, walnut panel, 54 × 40 cm, National Museum in Krakow. Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine was long known under the title Lady with a Weasel. While it is quite hard to identify precisely the species of the animal the woman is holding in her hands (the brownish coat is typical of both weasel and ermine), the painting hides a secret or two. The ermine is a link between two parties: the sitter, Cecilia Gallerani, and a “third party” – an invisible person whom the woman follows with her eyes of whom we know was a man named Ludovico Sforza. The ermine was symbolic in that Ludovico Sforza had been a Knight of the Order of the Ermine and used the animal as a personal emblem.

The sitter’s pet has a further significance alluding to her surname, as galê is ermine in Greek. Apart from that, the ermine traditionally stood for purity and moderation. Leonardo captured the animal cleverly, concealing the pregnancy of the woman, who was carrying Ludovico’s son in her womb at the time while Sforza was already engaged to another woman. Leonardo could not show straightforwardly the relationship between the two. The lightness and dynamism of the manner he painted the woman were not typical for his epoch. He showed her in innovative three-quarters profile with her torso turned to her right and her head to her left. That and the supple curved body of the animal are nothing like anything painted before. Leonardo was a genius of his time and much longer.

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