From the historical point of view, today’s Hotel Gródek is located in the area that was very important in the history of Royal Kraków. The Gródek Hill, where this five-star hotel is located, had been mentioned in the official documents long before Kraków was granted an urban charter according to the Magdeburg Law (1257). The hill, located on the old Vistula river bank, defended the city from the east. It also featured a gate on the trade route from Kievan Rus, through Kraków, to Spain.
In the following years, due to the mayor called Albert, the Gródek Hill played a significant role in Kraków’s history. It should be mentioned that in those times a mayor had huge prerogatives, also the army-related ones, especially when ruling the hill with such a military importance. In 1311 Mayor Albert, together with German and Czech burghers as well as the likely support from Bishop Jan Muskata, started a revolt against Prince Władysław the Short who was residing in the Wawel Royal Castle at that time. The rebellion lasted one year and it ended up with a defeat of those who supported the Czech king, John of Bohemia. As a result, the authority over the hill was transferred to Władysław the Short and the city of Kraków was deprived of many important privileges. The seat of Mayor Albert in the overtaken Gródek Hill was destroyed and replaced with a stronghold and a tower occupied by the army of the future King of Poland (1320).
Later the importance of the Gródek Castle decreased and it became a city police station. In the 15th century the buildings on the hill were destroyed by fire and so its owners at that time, the House of Tarnowski, built a new structure on the cinders of the old building. The old structure that remained was transformed into small living quarters.
In 1621 the building erected by the House of Tarnowski was bought by Anna Branicka Lubomirska in order to found a Dominican convent with a simple baroque St. Mary Major Church (consecrated in 1635) as a votive offering for the Khotyn victory. As a result of Kraków being surrounded by the Swedes in 1655 the church was destroyed. Several years later it was rebuilt and in 1671 consecrated again. The remaining buildings in the Gródek Hill did not have so much luck and throughout the 18th century fell into ruin.
It was only in the 19th century that the situation in the Gródek Hill improved. Many buildings were renovated and some, currently existing ones, were built.
In 2004 Cezary Busko, Waldemar Komorowski, Jerzy Niegoda and Bartłomiej Szmoniewski conducted a rescue archaeological and architectural research in the current Hotel Gródek, which indicated a need to expand the excavations in the area so important for Kraków’s history. Thanks to the efforts of the hotel’s owner, Jerzy Donimirski, a private archaeological museum with original artefacts found during the latest construction works was created in the hotel restaurant.
The history of the Gródek Hill and the five-star hotel located there is still not very well known, even among the residents of Kraków. Therefore, it is definitely worth a visit next time you’re in Kraków in order listen to interesting stories and see the museum collection.
Hotel’s official website: Hotel Gródek
Photos © Markowski