DESCRIPTION OF THE PLACE
The Palace at 16 Kanonicza St. is a wide, three-storey townhouse with a seven-window brick façade. Of note are the relics of masonry structures from the early 17th c., brick walls from the 16th c. featuring small stone windows and fragments of architraves, remnants of large medieval windows with stone crosses as well as attics with ogival blind windows, renaissance windows, a beautiful portal from 1554 and a modern-looking crowning cornice. The Palace is split into a front and rear section (with two rows of rooms) and in addition has annexes that enclose a perpendicular yard. Its rooms changed their functions, but many elements of their original furnishings are maintained (windows, portals, exquisite wooden beam ceilings dating from the 15th and 16th century, wall paintings from various periods, splendidly-preserved 19th-century wooden panelling and polychrome paintings). All this constitutes a highly valuable and integral whole.
Krakow is a place where until today unknown masterpieces of medieval wall painting are discovered. Spectacular recent finds include Romanesque murals of St. Andrew’s Church as well as gothic figures of saints in the galleries of the Augustinian Abbey in the district of Kazimierz. One of the most interesting murals that have recently been discovered in secular residential buildings is the 16th-century décor of the Guest Room no. 101 on the first floor of Hotel Copernicus. Its discovery in 1998 was a great sensation, and the painting immediately became the subject of analyses of art historians. What came to light was partially preserved decoration that nevertheless was in good condition. It included green ornamental wooden “panelling” with plant motifs, and above it depictions of four Church Fathers (St. Jerome, St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine)., either enthroned or seated at writing desks, dressed in parti-coloured robes, holding the insignia of their office and books. All is skillfully painted: space and form are rendered faithfully, the colouring is harmonious, softly modelled parts (e.g. complexion) combine with competently used graphical elements of outlines, face types are diversified. Wall inscriptions are excerpts from hymns to Church Fathers, who were held in high veneration by higher clergy across Europe. It has been established that the author employed by the donor was a member of Krakow painters’ guild. The decoration could have been created between 1510–1520, which was the period of transition between Polish Gothic and renaissance, with its triumphant humanism.
The discoveries made in the building also include murals from the Renaissance period. Room no. 108 has 17th-century ornamental decoration resembling the ceiling friezes from the nearby royal castle. It is accompanied by an illusionistically rendered depiction of Maria Immaculata and Saint Stanislaus the Martyr. Interesting paintings (dating from the 16th to 19th centuries), frequently consisting of several layers, have survived in other rooms.
In brick and masonry palaces of the Middle Ages wooden ceilings were used. They divided a building into storeys and braced the walls. Such ceilings came in several varieties and could be impressively decorated. In the Palace on Kanonicza Street a collection of nine ceilings has been preserved – the work of Krakow’s carpenters. The most interesting is the ceiling in Room no. 103 on the first floor, probably made from elements dating back to the 15th century. It is composed of seven beams with small crossbeams and is covered with painted decoration in the form of mannerist representations of highly stylized plants with intense, vivid colouring. During the renovation works fragments of the ceiling from the 16th century were found, covered with paintings depicting effective rosettes and rings of stylized bay leaves. The ceilings of Hotel Copernicus are one of the finest examples of this type of art in Poland.
In connection with the historic character of the building at the hotel are following derogations from the rules of categorization:
– No top cover over the main entrance ( a positive opinion of the Malopolska Conservation Department)
– No top cover on the driveway ( positive opinion of the Malopolska Conservation Department )
– No separate entrance, separate road storage and supply ( positive opinion of the Malopolska Conservation Department )
– No separate lift cargo – passenger ( positive opinion of the Malopolska Conservation Department )
– No separate toilet in the Apartments ( positive opinion of the Malopolska Conservation Department )