Kościuszko’s highest ideal was freedom, and he used his own to try and secure it for all those less fortunate. In one country – Poland – he failed and is remembered as the greatest hero who ever walked the land. In another country – America – he succeeded, and yet has been almost completely forgotten.
His belief in defending freedom for all people lead him from Warsaw to Paris, from the Polish countryside to Philadelphia, Saratoga, West Point and other places in America, before calling him back home to the service of his own country again. He became friends with such larger-than-life figures as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (who would be executor of his will) and negotiated with Napoleon and Tsar Alexander I. Leader of an uprising against Russia rule in Poland that inspired the entire nation, his Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Racławice turned him into a national hero and legend. After restlessly fighting for Poland’s return to the map of Europe, he despairingly retreated to Solothurn, Switzerland where he spent the final years of his life before old wounds, old age and typhoid fever finally caught him on October 15th, 1817 at age 71. 2017 marks the bicentennial of his death. He’s also on the list of Poland’s patrons for 2017.
Read our feature on the life and times of Kościuszko, who we truly believe was without doubt the greatest Pole ever (sorry JPII).
Here are 7 places in Kraków relating to his life and honouring his memory:
1. Plaque on Krakow’s market square marking the house where Tadeusz Kościuszko lived, Rynek 47.
2. Plaque and bouquet on Krakow’s market square where the great Polish patriot declared his Uprising against foreign rule.
“Here, on this place, Tadeusz Kościuszko, founded Polish statehood.”
3. Jan Matejko’s epic historical painting ‘Kościuszko pod Racławicami’ at the 19th Century Polish Art Gallery in the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice).
4. Tadeusz Kościuszko plaque commemorating the blessing of the swords which took place at Kraków’s Kościoł Kapucynów (Capuchin Church, ul. Loretańska 11), after Kościuszko declared his Uprising, and before he went into battle with the Russian Army. “He who is with God, God is with him.”
5. Tadeusz Kościuszko’s tomb in the Royal Crypts at Wawel.
6. Tadeusz Kościuszko monument at Wawel.
7. Kościuszko Mound & Wax figures of (from left) Kazimierz Pułaski, George Washington, and Tadeusz Kościuszko in the Kościuszko Mound museum.
✣ Other Kościuszko related places and objects.
Detail from the Racławice Panorama, now located in Wrocław Poland, showing Kościuszko in action at the Battle of Racławice
A chapel at the Royal Castle in Warsaw (Zamek Królewski) boasts an urn containing the heart of the Polish hero and freedom fighter.