Czartoryski Princes Lane

This small charming section of ul. Pijarska hosts a colourful outdoor art market every day, where local artists even hang their works directly on the medieval walls between Floriańska Gate and the 14th century Carpenters' Tower. Further on, the square is dominated by buildings historically associated with the Czartoryski Museum, including the beautiful 'Klasztorek' building (ul. Pijarska 6), the City Arsenal (Pijarska 8) located between the Joiners' Tower and Carpenters' Tower, and the Czartoryski Palace (Pijarska 15) - today the primary home of Kraków's most famous and historic museum collection. All three buildings were given their present Neo-Gothic style in the mid-19th century when the museum was moved to Kraków from Puławy and they were adapted to accommodate it; notice that all three are connected on the second storey by ornate covered brick passageways.

Originally built in 1566 and only one-storey, the City Arsenal stored gunpowder, cannons and rifles. In the late 19th century it became home to the Czartoryski Library, and later the Czartoryski collection's Gallery of Ancient Art. Rumour is that soon it will reopen to display the National Museum's Gallery of Weaponry & Uniforms.

In front of the Arsenal stands a sculpture by Danish-Icelandic artist Berthel Thordwaldsen (1770-1884). Labelled simply 'Mercury,' the full title of the piece is actually 'Mercury Before the Assassination of Argus,' making it a bit more than it appears. According to Greek Myth, Argus was a giant with hundreds of eyes, assigned by the goddess Hera to keep her husband Zeus away from his lover Io, who Hera had turned into a white cow. Zeus sent Apollo/Mercury to kill Argus and bring him the heifer, which he did by first lulling the behemoth to sleep with his lute. Take a look at the sculpture now and you'll see that Apollo/Mercury has done this and is now about to deliver the killing blow.


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