History of Kosciuszko Mound

Reopening of the Kościuszko Mound


On the 10th of November 2002 day before Independence Day, president of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski re-opened the reconstructed Kościuszko Mound. The event was held with all the forms in place. The flag was raised and the national hymn was performed by a military band, with the Representative Company of Polish Army, many citizens of Krakow and honoured guests. The Voyevod of Little Poland Jerzy Adamik and the President of the Committee made speeches and greeted the President of Poland. The Archbishop of Krakow Cardinal Franciszek Macharski recited the prayer for the nation by Piotr Skarga. The bell "Tadeusz" in the Chapel of Blessed Bronisława rang. The President cut the ribbon at the entrance to the Mound. And at the foot of the Mound uncovered a plaque to commemorate the reconstruction of Kościuszko Mound:


Then the President symbolically mounted the rock on top of the Mound with a trowel.

A new era in the history of the Mound began. Soon after reopening long lines stood to wait in order to ascend the Mound. On Independence Day, the day after it was opened, the Mound was visited by around 4 thousand people. And from the period of the 12th of November to the 31st of December 2002, 25 572 people visited it. The impressive number of visitors proves the Mound has its place in the hearts of Poles and tourists all over the world.

To commemorate recent years on the Mound


On the reconstructed Mound, under the stone at the top in a official celebration on the 15th of October 2002 we placed some items, which symbolise recent events. They are: a Solidarity plaque from 1980, as a symbol of national desire for independence and democracy, black cross with the Polish Eagle in memory of the “war-time” Solidarity after 13th of December 1981, constitution of the Third Polish Republic as the fruit of those labours, a silver coin minted to commemorate the 20th anniversary of John Paul II pontificate, a copy of “Tygodnik Powszechny” (“Weekly Common”) with the papal speech made in Błonie under the constantly rebuilt Mound in August 2002, as well the report by the Committee and the entirety of the construction documentation in electronic format.

Restoration Process 2000-2003


In this way, thanks to many who contributed, the Mound was rebuilt in the the years 2000-03. The top 9 m had to be removed since it has completely separated from the rest. It had to be removed and rebuilt. For some time it necessitated the removal of the Mound from the panorama of Krakow, which was felt dearly by its inhabitants.

State-of-the-art geotechnology was utilised in repair works with the most modern materials that have already been tested in seismic and landslide conditions, as the contractors assure. The Mound received a dehydration system, various forms of insulation, and illumination of the paths and the top (right now not complete). Therefore the restored Kosciusko Mound is a modern geotechnical construction, while retaining its historic nature since it has been rebuild from the same soil as before. We must hope it will remain more resistant to nature and will still be a symbol for future generations.

Kościuszko Mound, with its dominant position over Krakow and its place in the topography of the city, had to be rebuilt. The cost of reconstructing totalled to 14.666.000 PLN. The money was mostly granted by the state and from the National Monument Renovation Fund. The restoration was also helped by humble donations from the citizens (around 200.000 PLN), PKO BP SA 100.000 PLN, Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. 50.000 PLN and the city of Krakow 500.000 PLN.

Creating the Honorary Committee of Restoring Kościuszko Mound


In January 2000 Honorary Committee of Restoring Kościuszko Mound was called into being. Its goal was to seek funds for the restoration process. It was decided that the reconstruction will happen in three phases: I – restoring the cone, II – draining the base, III – renovation and conservation of the retaining wall.

The Catastrophe of 1997


The downpours at the beginning of summer 1997 led to a sudden erosion of the slopes of Kościuszko Mound. On large swathes of the sides, breaks and landslides formed. The paved paths broke apart and majority of them were completely ruined. The viewing platform on top leaned towards north-west and threatened to drop the many tonne rock on the chapel of Blessed Bronisława. The entire structure of the Mound began to break apart in half. That many breaks and fissures allowed rainwater to enter the structure and threatened the existence of the Mound.

The Committee notified the Conservator Office and the Construction Oversee Division about the state of the Mound. The experts considered the state of the Mound as a construction catastrophe. As that happened the Committee on its own began to secure the largest landslides from further penetration by rainwater. Since it has been the greatest calamity to affect the Mound in its history, it was closed to all visitors. The Committee continued to petition the authorities and the society to help save this important national heritage site. The situation was further worsened by the downpours near St. John's day in 1998. The Committee hired Polibeton from Warsaw to prepare a plan of saving the Mound, based on the concept made in the University of Science in Krakow. The damage was estimated at 15 million PLN. Financing became a problem. From the humble funds offered by the Social Committee of Renovating the Monuments of Krakow given in the years 1998-99 the Committee could only protect the Mound from further penetration by rainwater, by covering it until reconstruction could take place.

In November 1999 money was given from the flood restoration fund and on 5th of December that year restoration could began. The Mound was then changed in the registry to being owned by the state. The reconstruction was performed by the Hydrotrest-Skanska company and it was overseen by Revalorisation Department of Krakow's Monuments. However the amount given covered only a third of the required cost.

Masses of John Paul II on Krakow Błonie


The Błonie witnessed many memorable events with the Mound in the background. But one of them is especially worth mentioning. The papal Mass at the end of the visit of John Paul II to his homeland in June 1979. Never in the one-thousand year history of the Polish nation has that many people gathered in a single place. The pope looked at us from the altar, saw the Wawel hill and Kościuszko Mound and spoke to us. We, placed between that testament to Polish history, Wawel, and the symbol of independence, the Mound, listened. Two million there were and yet we could only hear his voice and the birds.  Let's recall his last words: "Allow me to take a look at Krakow, before I leave[...] - and I will look at Poland from here. Before I leave, I ask you to accept this spiritual heritage that is called “Poland”, with faith, hope and love – the same as planted in us by Christ in the holy baptism – so that you never doubt, never be weary, nor discouraged – so that you do not cut the roost we all come from”. Solidarity started in a year.

Attempt at levelling the Fort


In October 1948 Marshall Michał Rola-Żymierski personally began the destruction of the main gate to Fortu 2 "Kościuszko". The reclaimed bricks were to be used in building a border house for sons of labourers and farmers, who were to be educated in Krakow. Destroyed were the bastions: I, I-II, II, II-III, partly III and the cavaliers.

After Liberation


Not a month has passed since Nazi Germany was expelled from Krakow when the Committee had its first meeting under the president Karol Rolle, a former senator of the Second Republic and a former President of Krakow. 1946 came, when the 200th anniversary of the birth of Kościuszko was celebrated. The year was even named as the Year of Kościuszko.

The new authorities in the People's Republic of Poland were readily associating themselves with the memory of  Kościuszko. They used his democratic tendencies and the plan to grant land to the serfs in their demagogic propaganda, yet did not care at all about the Mound. Karol Rolle tried his best to take care of the Mound and later (since 1951) another president of the Committee, Karol Estreicher, a renowned art historian, continued his work.

The Mound defended itself with its ideological message and uncommon beauty. The Mound has been in the past and is still visited by the inhabitants of the city and by the many visitors to Krakow. Professor Estreicher considered himself to be a caretaker of a symbol of independence in a reality where that independence was seriously constrained. Unfortunately due to unresolved and unclear legal matters the Committee came under the wing of a long established (1897) Society of the Enthusiasts of the History and Monuments in Krakow.

In 1971 the Management of the Society has decided that the Committee became part of the well established society, though it retained most of its privileges. The Mound was however very damaged in the decades following the war.

In 1979 K. Estreicher managed to persuade the authorities to take a closer look at the state of the Mound. The following renovations and security measures made in the years 1980-1985 and continued later in the 90s by the Mine Construction company in Lublin and overseen by the geology technicians from the Krakow University of Science, unfortunately proved to be not  enough.

Nazi Occupation


During the times of the Second World War and the Nazi occupation (1939-1945) the occupying forces blocked any access to the Mound. In plain view from the Wawel, this symbol of Poland irritated governor Hans Frank. The Mound was to be destroyed. Fortunately  that has not happened. Only the plans remained. The Nazi's did destroy the Kościuszko monument on Wawel and the commemorative plaque on a house on the Main Square where Kościuszko lived.   During that time the Committee worked in the background to take care of the Mound.

The Mound in the Monument Registry


On the 20th of October 1936 the Mound was entered in to the monument registry which was another reason why it should be protected and cared for by the state, as:

"The Mound created in the 19th century by the Polish nation, to commemorate the great leader and hero of the time of the Motherland's enslavement. The Mound with its surrounding area deserves to be protected as a testament to the patriotic feelings and Polish culture in the 19th century.”

Placing soil from the US battlefields in Mound


On the 4th of July1926, in the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence an American delegation placed at the peek of the Mound soil from the battlefields of the War of Independence as a testament to Kościuszko's contribution to that fight. This added new meaning to the Mound, as it was now present not only in Polish tradition, but the whole World's. In 1926 soil from Mound was taken to be placed under the monument to Kościuszko in Hudson, in 1928 under the monument to Mickiewicz in Paris, in 1932 under the monument of president Wilson, a great proponent of independent Poland, in Washington, in 1934 under the Mound of Joseph Piłsudski, which just began construction in Sowiniec. This affirms the value of the soil from which the Mound was made.

The Marching Out of the First Cadre Company


At dawn on the 6th of August 1914, on the edge of the Krakow Błonia, Joseph Piłsudski gave the order to his riflemen to march out and resurrect Poland. In the distance the Mound glittered in the morning light. The First Cadre Company marched out of Krakow. It was followed by other companies of soldiers of independence. The Legions were formed. From their blood and sacrifice, the toil and suffering of previous insurrectionists, of the pain and forced migration to Syberia, from the work and desires of generations living under the yoke, in autumn of 1918 independent Poland has been born.

Illustrations from:  http://www.muzeumwp.pl/

Crowning the Mound with the Stone


On the 16th of June 1860, when Piotr Moszyński was president of the Committee, the Mound was crowned by a couple ton granite rock brought in from the Bystry stream in Kuźnice, Tatra Mountains, at his own expense. The Tatras were frequently visited by people from all the partitions and became a symbol of freedom, and a rock has always been a symbol of stability and indestructibility. A single inscription was made on it by the Krakow sculptor John N. Gall, very succinct and profound "KOŚCIUSZCE" (“TO KOSCIUSZKO”).  Under it was placed in a led box the Diary of the Construction of the Monument, together with banknotes from the time of the Uprising, and an edition of the local newspaper “Czas” (“Time”) from the day the rock was placed. It was a testament to the finished construction of the Mound. A rock was supposed to be crowning the Mound from the beginning, however the soil from which the Mound was created had to set first. This was to symbolise the Mound as the “everlasting sign” of the memory of Kościuszko and the immortal idea of independent Poland.

Constructing Fort "Kościuszko"


In the middle of the 19th century the partitioning power of Austria decided to make Krakow a fortress in a series of planned fortification on the border. On a strategically located hill, which overlooked the road to Silesia, the authorities have decided to construct a fort. That hill was Blessed Bronislawa's Hill on which the Mound is located. The Committee was forced to grant the Ministry of War in Vienna the land surrounding the Mound, under the stipulation that single morgen of land on which the Mound is located will remain extraterritorial, thus preserving the Mound and allowing the Committee to continue its role as caretaker.

The Austrians began construction of the fort called "Kościuszko". They surrounded the base of the Mound with a retaining wall, which included a neo-gothic chapel of Blessed Bronislawa, designed by Feliks Księżarski, in exchange for the destroyed earlier chapel, another of the Committee's stipulations.

The Fort, created by the occupying power of Austria, was created in the years 1850-54 by renowned architects, Cabogi and Pidolli among others. It was a citadel fort, its architecture showed the mature period of historicism with some neo-gothic and neo-renaisannce elements.The past tense is unfortunately accurate, since it has not been preserved in its entirety. In 1945-1956 the entry gate, south-west bastion and cavalier were destroyed. Now the remains have been overgrown by the local forest.  Despite that, Fort 2 "Kościuszko" is considered by the experts of 19th century fortifications as a world class example of that era.

Together with the selling of the land used for the fort, the deed to the Tomb-Monument of Kościuszko, sometimes called the Mound, has been registered in the proper way. The Mound was considered in them as a National Foundation of The Tomb-Monument of Tadeusz Kościuszko, since it has been the nation that erected it in thanks and the nation remains its owner.

The committee has been decided as the representative of the foundation, the Mound's caregiver and renovator. When one considers it, it turns out that, in light of how it was registered, the Mound was the only scrap of independent land of the former Republic of Poland, held in the name of Nation by the national institution, the Committee. Until the dissolution of the Republic of Krakow (1846-1848) the Committee was treated as an official subordinate body of that small country. After that it was subordinate to the Galician governor office, and later, during the galician autonomy, the Emperor's representative in Lviv. It must be said, that due to the respect that people sitting in the Committee held it was treated fairly and was mostly independent in its decisions.

Finishing the Construction


After three years of work on the 25th of October 1823 the Mound was declared finished. The Committee, a public body of the Republic of Krakow, did not disband but took care of the monument as its manager and caretaker. This committee is now called The Kościuszko Mound Committee and has accompanied the Mounds through all the pitfalls of history since it has been constructed. The first undertaking of the Committee was to publish a Diary of the Construction of the Monument to Tadeusz Kościuszko (Krakow, 1826). It contains documents of the constructions, plans and a list of all the benefactors, together with the amounts they contributed. Many famous names are contained therein, but also people of all estates, from all Polish lands, large and small amounts, anonymous donations, all in all an impressive proof of patriotism and solidarity. It is probably the largest list in the nation's history up until the list of casualties in the First World War.

Establishing the Committee of Constructing the Monument to T. Kościuszko


Years of work followed. It was done by volunteers and paid labourers from surround lands, as well as Poles visiting Krakow. It was funded by the donations made by Poles from all the partitioned lands. People from all background and pedigree contributed, be it a single penny from the poor to great amounts from rich land-owners. The cause brought the ravaged and separated nation together.

During the construction, soil from Maciejowice was deposited in the Mound. It was sent in 1821 by Izabela Czartoryska from Pulawy. Later soil from Szczekociny and Dubienka was also placed there. The design and construction was overseen by Szczepan Hubert, an architect, and Franciszek Sapalski, a mathematician. The construction was conducted under the guidance of Committee of Constructing the Monument to T. Kościuszko, established on the 24th of November 1820 by the Ruling Senate of the Free City of Krakow. General Paszkowski was selected as its first president.

Setting the foundation


On the day after the third anniversary of Kościuszko's death the celebration of laying foundation for the Mound was held. It was both patriotic and religious in nature. The ruling bodies of the Republic of Krakow participated in it, as well as the Wawel Chapter and the university Senate together with all the estates of Krakow and other Polish lands under occupation by the partitioning powers. The peasants brought soil from the Racławice battlefield. The speech was made by the general of Polish forces in the Duchy of Warsaw, one of the last surviving secretaries to Kościuszko, his distant relative and heir, Franciszek Maksymilian Paszkowski. In his bold speech he reminded that “there is nothing more precious than freedom and independence” and addressed the serfs “without whom nothing truly great can ever be done”. The celebration was also attended by foreigners: Italian singer Angelica Catalani, who dedicated the proceedings from her Krakow concert to the Mound, and Bertel Thorvaldsen a world renowned Danish sculptor author of the monument of Prince Józefa Poniatowski in Warsaw, among others. They (Catalani and Thorvaldsen) were the first foreigners to help build the Monument to the citizen of the world. Soon diplomatic notes, in French, where sent to the authorities in the United States, England and France, informing them about the construction of the Mound. It can be then said that the Mound's construction was an international affair, but primarily it was the work of the Polish people.

After the mass and all the speeches ended, after the founding article was read and placed in a glass and marble container at the base, after placing memorabilia of the Uprising (e.g. cannonballs from the Raclawice fields), the construction could began. Soil brought in wheelbarrows was deposited around the fir tree trunk brought from Jaworzno forest. The tree was to designate the centre of the Mound. After the first few official wheelbarrow were deposited the gathered people began to construct the Mound. The work was progressing in a cheerful atmosphere to patriotic music and way beyond nightfall. The construction of the Mound has been under-way.

Resolution to Create the Tomb of Kościuszko


The nation has decided to commemorate Kościuszko with a simple yet lasting monument. By the resolution of the Senate of the Republic of Krakow it was decided to raise a symbolic tomb as a monument to Kościuszko from home soil and native rocks, in tune with other mounds in Krakow, Krak and Wanda's. The resolution was approved by the Ruling Senate of the Free City of Krakow on 19th of July 1820. The place for this fortuitous undertaking was to be the hill of Blessed Bronisława, also called Sikornik, to the west of Krakow, in Zwierzyniec. A small chapel built at the beginning of the 18th century stood there. Dedicated to the Blessed Bronisława, who left the monastery in Zwierzyniec and lived like a hermit there. The land was gifted by the Norbertine nuns from Zwierzyniec.