Pieskowa Skała Castle
Pieskowa Skala is one of three castles in Malopolska Province boasting the status of a royal castle. The major one is, of course, Wawel. The other one is Niepolomice castle. Pieskowa Skala (Dog’s Rock) is a charming place, located in Suloszowa village, 27 kilometers north of Krakow.
The castle is surrounded by a national scenic park of jurassic geologic origin, perfect for walks. For details see www.pieskowasklala.eu. The castle’s chambers contain historical artifacts and are used to display a collection of world-class paintings, from medieval times through the 20th Century.
Pieskowa Skala also houses various temporary exhibitions, such as “Imago Florae” (“Pictures of Flowers”). The exhibit was inspired by a collection of books of botanical “herbaria” (descriptions of plants and their utility for mankind) and “florilegia” (albums of flower connoisseurs and collectors). The books are kept in the Wawel and Pieskowa Skala castles. The appeal of such an exhibit lies in its rarity.
The botanical illustrations are unknown to a wider audience, apart from plant lovers and collectors. The major ingredients of the exhibit are books which once belonged to the Polish noble family Sapieha, such as “Botanicon” published in 1727 and “Plantaeselectae” (1750).
One of the most beautiful ‘florilegia’ is “Hortus Eystettensis” (1613) containing 17 beautifully colored charts of then-rare flowers such as tulips, daffodils and anemones. “My private opinion of these exhibits is that at first sight they are nothing much of a thrill,” said Izabela Okreglicka of the Events Department of Wawel castle. “But when you get closer and start admiring the precise drawings, it overwhelms you. Those drawings are simply a masterpiece..”
Another Pieskowa Skala attraction and part of the “Imago florae” exhibit are the flower gardens on the southern side of the castle walls. The gardens normally are closed to the public but are temporarily open for viewing. Access to Pieskowa Skala is quite simple, with private minibus lines that head for Olkusz through Pieskowa Skala. The tourist companies have everything well arranged. See the Private Information Center at ul. Grodzka 34.