When I first decided to visit Krakow, partly because I’d heard about the Teraz Komiks! exhibition from comics guru Paul Gravett, I chose my hotel because of its name – the Copernicus. The sixteenth century Polish astronomer, famous for his heliocentric view of the universe, appears in my and Tracey Turner’s The Comic Strip History of Space.
Copernicus stayed in a building here on Kanonicza street – the site is now a hotel , and I was hooked. My bedroom was up in the roof, with a huge bed like a box pew, and a skylight. Could I watch the stars at night? Sadly these days there’s too much light pollution from the city. But I could dream …
Krakow had always intrigued me. It seemed like a magical place, as well as resonating with a turbulent and complicated history. I could look down from my tiny bedroom window onto the ancient street below, its shining cobbles leading up towards Wawel Castle.
Opposite was the Bishop Erazm Ciolek Palace , filled with ecclesiastical treasures from the 12th to the 18th century, including funeral accoutrements in a darkened room echoing with melancholy music.
It was thirty one degrees during my visit, so I was glad to discover the cool and leafy tranquillity of the Archaeological Museum Gardens, overflowing with mauve and powder blue hydrangeas and scented by newly cut grass. I was grateful for the Planty’s shade, green space which encircles the Old Town, following the tracks of its medieval walls. Scattered along its paths were hoardings showing the work of Absurdist playwright and cartoonist Mrozek, some of whose work appears in Teraz Komiks!
My last cup of tea at the Copernicus Hotel, watched by the astronomer.