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Tales From the Wizards: Adventures in Wadowice by Candice Nadasen

Mar 26, 2021

When I first made the decision to come to Poland, I was really excited about the prospect of traveling easily. Poland is filled with beautiful cities ready to be explored! 

Being a Roman Catholic, all things related to Catholicism fascinates me. When I arrived in Poland, I learned that Saint Pope John Paul II was born in a city called Wadowice. For this specific reason, I had to make the trip to this city just 50km southwest of Poland with a mere 19200 inhabitants.

 

Getting to Wadowice from Krakow

I was incredibly happy once the weather started getting warmer which motivated me to start my day trips. As a Saturday morning dawned upon me, one of the first sunny days we day this year, I easily found a bus to Wadowice on Busy-krk.pl. I bought a ticket at the Krakow Bus Station for 10zl one way. One can also buy a ticket on the bus, cash only. The bus arrived on time and in an hour and twenty minutes after a scenic drive, we arrived in Wadowice. The first thing that struck me about this town was the peacefulness. It was so tranquil and serene.

 

Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

It was extremely easy to navigate my way to the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is situated in the square in the middle of the city. This basilica is also known as the Basilica of John Paul II as this is the church he attended during his childhood and significant as this is probably where he spent most of his time preparing for his calling to be a priest. Inside the basilica was like a tribute to the late Pope. Lots of his pictures and statues of him all around the church, there was even a special prayer chapel that contained a vial of his blood. The water fountain that he laid his hands on during one of his visits, is still there where I presume baptisms take place. The basilica felt like an incredibly special place to spend time in, rich in spirituality and a feeling of closeness to the late Pope.

Family House of the Holy Father John Paul II Museum

My next stop was to see the childhood home that Saint Pope John Paul II grew up in which is now turned into a museum. The Family House of the Holy Father John Paul II Museum is situated right next to the basilica. Tickets must be bought first from the ticket offices next door. Normal price tickets are 27zl per person however the gentleman behind the counter asked if I was a student or teacher. Upon saying that I teach here in Krakow, I received a discount and as such only paid 20zl.

When I entered the museum, I was welcomed and given a brief description of what I was to expect during my visit. The tour started with a history of the late Pope’s family. I learned his real name, Karol Jozef Wojtyla, and that he was the youngest of two boys. There were photos, lots of photos from his childhood which included his family and friends. A detailed history about his time at Jagiellonian University and then moving on to his time in the seminary.

 

Family House of the Holy Father John Paul II Museum

My next stop was to see the childhood home that Saint Pope John Paul II grew up in which is now turned into a museum. The Family House of the Holy Father John Paul II Museum is situated right next to the basilica. Tickets must be bought first from the ticket offices next door. Normal price tickets are 27zl per person however the gentleman behind the counter asked if I was a student or teacher. Upon saying that I teach here in Krakow, I received a discount and as such only paid 20zl.

When I entered the museum, I was welcomed and given a brief description of what I was to expect during my visit. The tour started with a history of the late Pope’s family. I learned his real name, Karol Jozef Wojtyla, and that he was the youngest of two boys. There were photos, lots of photos from his childhood which included his family and friends. A detailed history about his time at Jagiellonian University and then moving on to his time in the seminary.

 

There were artifacts that belonged to his on display namely his first-ever scapular as well as his entire ski wardrobe, his tennis shoes, a sweater, etc. As I made my way upstairs to the actual flat that he shared with his family, I had goosebumps. I saw the bedroom he was born in which he shared with his brother, the bed he slept on, the kneeler he used to pray on, the full kitchen and living room. It was quite amazing, to say the least. There were lots of family photos displayed in the various rooms in the flat. What I learned next was that he worked in a quarry for a while, and I saw his uniform. Next on the tour was a display of the various robes he wore during his time as the Pope as well as his mitre (the white pointy hat) and his various journals he kept.

 

The next part of the journey fascinated me the most as there was so much about this incident, I was unaware of. On May 13, 1981 John Paul II was to be presented with an image of the Our Lady of Czestochowa at St. Peters Square, Italy when he was shot four times. The gun that was used to shoot him was on display as was the suit of the bodyguard who caught him. If you look closely at the suit, you can see the late Pope’s blood. It also gave me the full history of how Johan Paull II visited the man who tried to assassinate him in jail and who then wrote a letter to the Italian officials for him to be released.

 

As I progressed on my tour, I came across hundreds of letters written to the Pope, the museum is littered with thousands of photos of Joh Paul II dating back from his childhood to his last days. There is a special place that is home to the soil from each of the countries he visited during his time as Pope. His treasured mementos were also on display as was the bible that was read to him on his death bed.

This museum holds so much of history about the Pope who hails from Poland, things that we knew about him and things we did not. it is necessary to pay this museum a visit as it truly is worth the two hours you can spend there.

 

Kremowki Papieska – Pope’s cake

This cream pie is one of Wadowice’s treasured delicacies which became known as the Papal cream cake after learning that it was John Paul II favorite cake. Whilst there are many bakeries selling kremowka, I was told that the best can be found at Cukiernia Wadowice. At only 6zl a piece, this cake is worth a try. Cukiernia Wadowice can be found in the Krakow city center as well.

The Town Itself

Whilst it is an exceedingly small town, the John Paul II Square is a nice place to grab lunch from one of the surrounding restaurants and enjoy it on one of the benches. There are lots of shops selling souvenirs and keepsakes. The Katyn Cross which you will pass along the path from the bus was installed in memory of the victims of Katyn. If you into escapes rooms be sure to check out the SherLOCK Escape room on ul. Zwirki I Wigury. Another thing that seems quite fun to see is the World of Dreams Park of Miniatures which unfortunately was closed due to the pandemic restrictions.

Wadowice is a beautiful town to visit for the day. It is filled with history not just related to the Pope but also to WW2. Definitely worth visiting!

 

This is a guest post as part of our “Tales from the Wizards” series, where our Wizards take over the blog and share their stories of life in Poland.

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