Independence Square

Streets and squares

Independence Square (Plac Niepodległości) in Podgórze holds a symbolic significance for the struggle for independence in both Kraków and in Poland. This is the location of the Austrian barracks that in all probability was the first piece of free Poland, after its garrison had been disarmed by the soldiers of Antoni Stawarz.

The square owns its name to the events of 31 October 1918, which were initiated by Antoni Stawarz, a fairly unknown lieutenant, who became the initiator of opposing the Austrian rule and liberating Kraków. On that day, with a handful of independence activists supporting him, Stawarz started the bloodless disarmament of soldiers of the Austrian army stationed in the barracks in Kalwaryjska Street: the address taken today by Independence Square. Antoni Stawarz is believed to have welcomed the independence initiated in that way by the ostentatious tossing of an Austrian military cap into the mud accompanied by the cry of Polnische Republik soll leben! (German for “long live the Republic of Poland!”) addressed to the interned soldiers. A similar action was conducted in parallel in the barracks on Wielicka Street, known as the Inn Under St Benedict. Under the command of Stawarz, Polish troops marched from Podgórze to the Main Market Square in Kraków to disarm the Austrians stationed in the guardhouse by the Town Hall Tower.

The barracks in Kalwaryjska Street were burnt down in 1945 and their place was taken by the sports hall and the swimming pool of Krona Kraków Sports Club. A small square developed at the mouth of Legionów Józefa Piłsudskiego Street. Remaining long nameless, it was only named the Square of the Silesian Uprising (in Polish: Plac Powstańców Śląskich) in 1965, to be renamed to its current Independence Square (in Polish: Plac Niepodległości) in 1991. A plaque commemorating the heroic deeds of the young lieutenant and the disarmament of Austrian soldiers in the no longer extant barracks can be found in its southern section (in Zamoyskiego Street).

 

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