Historic layout of alleys, reconstructed “gardener’s house” and renovated gloriette. 19th-century Park Wojciech Bednarski in Krakow was opened on Thursday after renovation. As part of the work, based on old photos and plans, the appearance from about a hundred years ago was restored. There are also some new elements, such as an outdoor gym or a playground.
A unique place on the map of Krakow’s Podgórze has changed beyond recognition. In recent years, the Wojciech Bednarski Park has undergone a thorough renovation and was made available to the public again on Thursday afternoon.
Park in a former quarry
Before the revitalization, Bednarski Park was partly wild and inaccessible. Where it was possible to walk, the benches were destroyed, the sidewalks were scary with holes, and the gloriette, disfigured by pseudo-graffiti, only encouraged people to give it a wide berth. Thanks to archival photos and plans of this area, Bednarski Park has become not only a place friendly to walkers, but also partly recreated its appearance at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
At the beginning of 2022, the revitalization of the park began. The plans were to reproduce the former character of this place as faithfully as possible. – The park gazebo was destroyed in the past, so we recreated it in the alleged place of the former viewing platform. The badly damaged gloriette (round pavilion – ed.) was also renovated, and we also recreated, as far as possible, the historical layout of the alleys – says Aleksandra Mikolaszek from the Municipal Greenery Management in an interview with tvn24.pl.
The new gazebo refers to the preserved sketch, and its appearance was modeled on the photograph from 1903.
In turn, the renovated gloriette is the only authentic one in the park that has retained its original appearance and testifies to the era in which it was created. The building will function as a back-up facility for the “Plac Sokoli” clearing, with places for sunbathing.
One of the most interesting elements is the reconstructed “gardener’s house”, i.e. a building of which there was no trace in the park before revitalization. It is known, however, that he was present there in the past. Inside, there is a public toilet and a room for a mother and child.
Playground, gym and new plants
There are also brand new elements in the park, such as an outdoor gym or a playground. – The square for the youngest visitors to the park has been moved and expanded, and divided into two parts: for younger and older children – says Mikolaszek. The element connecting the playgrounds is a wooden didactic path, along which elements related to the legend of Mr. Twardowski have been designed.
Not everyone liked the wide range of work. Some residents were afraid of excessive interference in the nature of the park and demanded that its partly wild character be preserved, which is why a compromise was reached: the officials, among other things, refrained from building a large stage.
According to city officials, the greenery in the park was also designed “based on historical and compositional analyses”. The selection of plants was to correspond to the original assumptions of the park. Although some trees were cut down during the works, 50 new ones were planted, including Norway maples, chestnuts, common beeches and limes.
Park in a former quarry. “It was written about all over Europe”
The initiator of the creation of the park at the turn of the two centuries was its current patron – Wojciech Bednarski, who in the 19th century Podgórze – then still a city near Krakow – served, among others, as a school director. He was a committed social worker and city councillor.
As Paweł Kubisztal, president of the PODGORZE.PL association, points out, this is a unique place in terms of history.
– It is possible that it was the first example of a post-industrial area in Europe that was designated for greenery. Previously, it was a quarry basin. Its creation in such a place, on solid rock, was an amazing feat for its time. It was written about all over Europe – said Kubisztal in an interview with tvn24.pl.
The social worker emphasizes that the original “gardener’s house”, reconstructed in the 21st-century version of the park, was used by park gardeners in the past. – Someone was guarding this park, admission was paid, so the whole thing was kept at a very high level. I hope that now it will also be well-kept – emphasized the president of the PODGORZE.PL association.
Main photo source: Paweł Kubisztal/Podgorze.pl Association, Jan Graczyński/krakow.pl