Art Nouveau Pearl in Peril

One of the treasures of Poland’s Art Nouveau era faces an uncertain future after the current owner announced that he can no longer maintain the site.

Jama Michalika (Michalik’s Den) counts amongst the most colourful literary cafes on the continent. Opened in 1895 on ul. Floriańska by one Jan Michalik, the confectionery soon became popular with Krakow’s bohemian circles, thanks to its proximity to the Art Academy. Michalik expanded the premises to include a cafe, the main salon of which was decorated in flamboyant style by some of the leading artists of the day.

The current proprietor, Stanisław Kuliś, claims that the Krakow Gastronomic Cooperative, which maintained the premises during the communist era, is demanding payments for the use of the historic facilities. Kuliś retorts that he alone footed the bill for the renovation of the site, and he is unable to continue under the present circumstances if he must pay further fees. The news has alarmed historians and devotees of Krakow’s monuments: “It’s absolutely inconceivable that it could disappear,” historian Leszek Mazan told Gazeta Krakowska. “The city must help.”

Mayor Jacek Majchrowski, who stands for re-election this month, has pledged to intervene.

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