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Former Astronomical Observatory and Botanical Garden in
Krakow
Ever since the beginning the fates of the building of the f...
The Malopolska Days of Cultural Heritage
The Malopolska Days of Cultural Heritage are one of the major
annual events that ...
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DAWNE OBSERWATORIUM ASTRONOMICZNE W COLLEGIUM ŚNIADECKIEGO I OGRÓD BOTANICZNY W KRAKOWIE: "Former Astronomical Observatory and Botanical Garden in Krakow" (english version)

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Opis zabytku w języku angielskim przygotowany w ramach XVII Małopolskich Dni Dziedzictwa Kulturowego (2015).

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DAWNE OBSERWATORIUM ASTRONOMICZNE W COLLEGIUM ŚNIADECKIEGO I OGRÓD BOTANICZNY W KRAKOWIE: "Former Astronomical Observatory and Botanical Garden in Krakow" (english version)

  1. 1. Former Astronomical Observatory and Botanical Garden in Krakow Ever since the beginning the fates of the building of the former Astronomical Observatory, since 1963 known as the Collegium Śniadeckiego, have been associated with the surrounding garden. The first idea to set up a garden for research purposes was put forward in 1602 by Jan Zemełka, a medical doctor, graduate of the universities in Krakow and Padua. The garden laid out in Padua in 1545, nowadays the oldest botanical garden in the world, may have inspired Zemełka, whose vision, however, was not realised. The garden did not come into existence until 1783, when, acting at the instruction of the Commission of National Education, Hugo Kołłątaj started to reform the weakened university. The Chair of Chemistry and Natural History was then founded, along with the Botanical Garden as an auxiliary facility. It was located in the district of Wesoła, on former Jesuit grounds. The garden stretched over a modest area of 2.4 hectares. A gardener, Franciszek Kajzer (Franz Keiser), was brought from Vienna to transform it into a French Baroque garden. At the same time, in 1787, mathematician and astronomer Jan Śniadecki started to convert the suburban villa that had been on the grounds into an observatory. The architectural design was by Feliks Radwański, also a mathematician and a close friend of Śniadecki’s. The building, opened in 1792, housed offices for botanists on the ground floor and, upstairs, facilities for astronomers who in those times performed not only sky observation but also climate research and various physical and chemical experiments. It was from the garden that the first balloon was launched on 1st April 1784, which caused quite a stir among Krakow’s residents. The observatory was soon renowned across Europe for observation of the positions of planets, comets and planetoids, lunar eclipses and changes in star brightness. In the course of the 19th century its operations occasionally ground to a halt only resume again later. It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that the observatory’s activity was revived by Director Tadeusz Banachiewicz. The astronomer developed the so-called Krakovian calculus, brought new observation instruments, and in the 1920s. designed the chronocinematograph – a long focus length camera which could film the course of solar eclipses. Thus equipped, he organised several research expeditions to observe total solar eclipses in Sweden, the USA, Greece, the USSR and Japan. Director Banachiewicz also put forward the idea of building an observatory in the Beskid Makowski (the present day observation station Lubomir). After World War II, due to its proximity to the brightly illuminated city, the former observatory had to be moved to a new seat in Fort Skała. The Botanical Garden is a place where a keen observer will spot precise clock mechanisms: plants. Some orchids, for instance, blossom once in twenty years. Other plants tell the time of day by blooming. Concealed in garden greenhouses, prehistoric cycads, whose origins go back to the Palaeozoic era, which has earned them the name of ‘living fossils’, can transport us to distant past like a time machine.
  2. 2. The Malopolska Days of Cultural Heritage The Malopolska Days of Cultural Heritage are one of the major annual events that show and promote the cultural diversity of Malopolska. For two weekends in May, every year, it is possible to visit, free of charge, over ten selected sites, using materials prepared especially for that purpose, and to learn about the region’s past and its traditions by participating in the many accompanying events. The sites selected for the purpose include little known places or those that are normally out of bounds to the public, often in private hands. We make sure that the presentation of the selected sites is accompanied with professional, attractive and original commentary, which not only describe but also reveal Malopolska’s history. We choose the most interesting topics connected with the presented sites and construct the programme of the event for them. dnidziedzictwa.pl

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