I am fascinated by scale models. There is something quintessentially human about making miniature versions of real-world objects. It is this ability to represent the world in a manageable and manipulable form that makes us what we are. The making of models, or sculptures, came long before the invention of writing and is clearly its intellectual ancestor. I like all kinds of models: scale-model aircraft, kitschy cottages, model villages, globes, miniature skeletons, train sets, sandcastles, snowmen, Naomi Campbell etc.
20,000 years of symbolic thought
I was delighted to discover that there are three miniature versions of Krakow scattered about the city: one on Plac Matejki, one on Plac Szczepański and one on Plac Wszystkich Świętych. These models take the abstraction one step further because they are representations of how these areas looked centuries ago rather than how they look now—they are abstract in time as well as scale. In each case these models were installed as part of renovations to these squares, so hopefully there will be more in the future as improvements to the city’s open spaces continue.
The Plac Matejki model showing the area as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. It features the Grunwald monument, the buildings surrounding the square (most of which are still standing today), St. Florian’s church and the street layout of nearby Kleparz market.
The approximate area covered by the Plac Matejki model on a 1914 map of Krakow.
The Plac Matejki model at street level.
* * *
The Plac Szczepański model showing the area as it looked before 1801 when the square was created. A church and a Jesuit college stood where the square is now. You can also see the old city wall, now dismantled, in the background.
Bird’s eye view of the Plac Szczepański model. The view in the previous picture is from the left in this picture.
The area covered by the Plac Szczepański model on a 1785 map of Krakow. The street then called ul. Zydowska (Jewish Street) is now called ul. Świętego Tomasza (St. Thomas’ Street).
The Plac Szczepański model at street level.
* * *
The Plac Wszystkich Świętych model showing the area as it was before Kościoła Wszystkich Świętych (All Saints’ Church) was demolished in the 1830s. Note the braille inscription on the right-hand side of the base. I heard an interview with a blind person once in which he said he always bought tourist models of famous buildings when he visited a new city so he could get and idea of their form—these must be great for that purpose (except in the summer when the metal gets hot enough to burn your fingers).
Bird’s eye view of the Plac Wszystkich Świętych model.
The area covered by the Plac Wszystkich Świętych model on a 1785 map of Krakow.
A street level view of the Plac Wszystkich Świętych model.