The Stefan Batory Barges In

City authorities and the owner of the newest and largest boat on the Wisła river are squaring up for a legal battle – after the barge was moored illegally at the foot of Wawel castle.

The Stefan Batory is a floating conference centre, able to accommodate 400 people on three levels, and measuring 9.3 metres tall and 54 metres long.

It was originally moored opposite the castle, in front of the Manggha museum, and even there its presence drew criticism. The barge was said to be too large, and out of character with the river. The city artist, Jacek Stokłosa, said that it looked like an aircraft carrier – and Krakow Post readers were no less critical, with one comparing it to a giant zit.

Now the row over the Stefan Batory has intensified, because it has been moved across the river, and currently rests in the bend beneath Wawel castle. The move is illegal, because barge owner Lech Będkowski does not have permission to moor there, nor does it have the blessing of the city artist.

However, the newspaper Gazeta Krakowska reports that Mr Będkowski said he had moored the Stefan Batory beneath Wawel in spite of this, in order to prove to the authorities that it fit the space perfectly and would not look out of place.

The Office of Infrastructure and Sport (ZIS), which oversees moorings on the river, has demanded that the barge be moved. Halina Szłapa, spokeswoman for ZIS, said it was not possible to moor such a barge without the ‘positive opinion of the city artist’, and that this opinion had not been forthcoming.

Nor is it likely to be, for Mr Stokłosa said: “The barge is like a giant aircraft carrier… I cannot give consent to something like that.”

Mr Będkowski was convinced that the current spot was perfect for the Stefan Batory. He said: “It is moored there to show that this modern, beautifully crafted object fits well with the bend in the river. We want to convince the city artist. The barge does not obscure the castle, just the shabby tenements on ul. Powiśle. Tourists like it, they take their pictures in front of it.”

ZIS has not yet called for the forcible removal of the barge, and has suggested a new spot for the Stefan Batory, near the group of restaurant-bar boats around the footbridge that connects Kazimierz to Podgórze.

Mr Będkowski said he would prefer to stay at Wawel, adding that modern architecture could complement historical buildings. But he also said that he may take the Stefan Batory to Rotterdam, and has booked a berth there.

River development plans

The floating conference centre, a fixed hot air balloon, a Ferris wheel and an open air swimming pool are the most recent additions to Krakow’s riverscape – and now there are plans to reinvigorate the once-thriving industrial Wisła river still further by allowing more boats operating as restaurants and hotels to moor along the stretch that passes through the city centre.

In the past two years the river has become a focal point for entrepreneurs willing to risk a złoty or two on what they see as the next tourist hot-spot in the city.

Krakow’s council, noting the trend, is now considering renting mooring points on a much grander scale. Although it will not be possible to moor houseboats on the river in the city centre, entertainment facilities could be allowed.

But Filip Szatanik, spokesman for the magistrate, said precautions would be taken to ensure the amenity of the river was not spoiled.

Mr Szatanik told Gazeta Wyborcza: “The section opposite the Forum hotel and Wawel Castle will be excluded. On the remaining length of the river, mooring piles have already been prepared by the Board of Sports and Infrastructure, at which floating restaurants and hotels will be able to moor.”

One thought on “The Stefan Batory Barges In

  • September 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Yesterday I sat on the riverbank at dusk and took pictures of the Stefan Batory ,before I read the article about it. I thought it tastefully blended in with the Japanese Museum behind it in contrast to the pictures I had taken earlier in the morning of it with the castle in the background. I walked down where sky lanterns were being lit and took pictures of it with them and the ferris wheel and hot air balloon.

    When I was contrasting the Stefan Batory I imagined being aboard it with friends and family during a
    wintry snowy day sipping a warm drink . I looked at the others and felt chilled and unprotected .

    I am here from Charleston ,South Carolina , founded 1654 and a member and docent of the Preservation Society and The Historic Charleston Foundation and we would tend to side with the attitude of the city artist. However , we would be wrong.

    Across the harbor from Historic Downtown Charleston there is moored the aircraft carrier USS YORKTOWN ,famous from WW II . It has a touchingly beautiful presence from all angles and is a very popular tourist destination as well as hosting reunions from WW II. This morning , my daughter e mailed me about an event she is hosting there Nov. 9th . It serves Charleston very well.

    So, I was very surprised when I reached my hotel and read your article and reread its comments.
    I hope you will reconsider the artistic placement of it in a more favorable light and photograph it where it is now moored .Give it your blessing as well as your support. It could be there on a 5 year trial basis,to expose its assets as well as imperfections,perhaps. i think you will see the beauty .

    I have come to visit my ancestors homeland and fallen in love with Cracow. My daughter and Grand daughter will return with me for 3 months next year . I hope to take them aboard the Stefan Batory.

    Thank you for your attention . Warm regards from Charleston , South Carolina USA

    If you would like to contact me I will be here for 8 more days .

    Elaine Long Gorski Mogilka


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