Krakus Mound [Kopiec Krakusa]

Krakus Mound
The oldest structure in Kraków, Krakus Mound is one of two prehistoric monumental mounds in the city and is also its highest point, providing incredible panoramic views from its worn summit. Sixteen metres high, sixty metres wide at the base and eight metres wide at the top, Kopiec Krakusa stands in scruffy contrast to the manicured modern mounds elsewhere in the city, with a muddy path winding around to a bald peak. The site of pagan ritual for centuries, the mound retains an ancient, evocative atmosphere amplified by the surroundings of the cliffs of Krzemionki, the green rolling fields of Płaszów, the grim Liban quarry and the Podgórze cemetery. With incredible views of the city, Krakus Mound lies at the centre of one of Kraków's least explored and most captivating areas and should be visited by anyone looking to take a rewarding detour from the beaten path. It can be approached most easily from the major intersection of Al. Powstańców Wielopolskich and ul. Wielicka via ul. Robotnicza to the steps of al. Pod Kopcem (K-5), or by following ul. Dembowskiego (J-5) to the pedestrian bridge over al. Powstańców Wielopolskich to the base of the mound.

The result of great human effort and innovative engineering, Krakus Mound has long been a source of legend and mystery. Connected with the popular story of Kraków's mythical founder, King Krak or Krakus, the mound is said to have been constructed in honour of his death when noblemen and peasants filled their sleeves with sand and dirt, bringing it to this site in order to create an artificial mountain that would rule over the rest of the landscape. In the interwar period, extensive archaeological studies were undertaken to try to date the mound and verify if there was truth to the legend that Krak was buried beneath it. Though much about the ingenuity of the mound's prehistoric engineers was revealed, no trace of a grave was found, however excavations were not completely comprehensive. A bronze belt was unearthed in the lower part of the mound and dated to the 8th century, and there is general agreement today that the mound was created by a Slavonic colony sometime between the latter half of the 7th century and the early 10th century, though other hypotheses credit the structure to the Celts. Originally there were four smaller mounds around the base of Krak's mound, however these were levelled in the mid-19th century during the construction of the city's first fortress which surrounded the area with a wall embankment and a moat (later levelled in 1954). The location of the Krakus Mound and the Wanda Mound in Mogiła (T-4) - the city's other, lesser prehistoric earthwork - hardly seems accidental. In addition to being an ideal vantage point over the surrounding valleys, when standing on the Krakus Mound at dawn on June 20th or 21st the sun can be seen rising directly behind Wanda's Mound; conversely, standing on Wanda's Mound at dusk, the sun sets in a straight line behind Krak's Mound. The legend of Krak's mound inspired the modern creation of burial mounds for Kościuszko and Piłsudski and today they remain one of Poland's greatest archaeological mysteries.

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