Towns that Time Forgets

Krakow, Poland is rather like Bruges, Belgium, in that a lot of history bypassed it. For those of us interested in seeing actual old things rather than reconstructions and museum dioramas of old things, this is wonderful. For the people who lived in the cities during those periods of neglect, it wasn’t so wonderful.

The good news is that, unlike Warsaw, the Nazis didn’t level things out of spite, with the Soviets following up just because they were Soviets. Krakow lost its status to Warsaw during the late Middle Ages, much like Bruges, and a lot of things bypassed it. Also unlike Lemberg/L’vov/L’wow/L’viv, it wasn’t in between two armies times three offensives.

Krakow’s not the only place that managed to survive. Several cities in Germany kept their walls, because they didn’t grow enough to justify tearing them down. Then along came tourism and the walls became a commodity instead of a liability. Nördlingen is one that I’d like to go back to, mostly because of the geology. I was not able to convince everyone else to go to the geology museum and park, alas, so we did the city instead. You see, Nördlingen is perfectly round. As is the surrounding valley. The valley is actually a crater, and the town is in the impact point.

One of very few perfectly round towns. Used under Fair Use. original image at:

The ejecta is found as far as the Moldau Valley in the Czech Republic. Source:

But Krakow and other places farther off the tourist path got left out of the development of the late 19th early 20th century, in if fortunate, were not flattened and then rebuilt after 1945. Fortunate for me. I suspect the people then living in the area were glad to miss the flattening and wanted the modernizing and rebuilding (just, not in “Stalin Baroque” or “Khruschev Eclectic” style, please).

Wawl Castle and the Vistula River. Here was dragon. Taken from Pinterest:

10 thoughts on “Towns that Time Forgets

    • No kidding … there was a small town in Spain, on the pilgrimage road to Santiago de Compostela … which was famed in the local guidebooks for still preserving the local Roman/Medieval curtain walls around the old down in a perfect circuit. Have to look it up. My daughter and I walked the circuit on one of our trips. The view down into so many back gardens, and ranks of tiny houses was so interesting… The place was still very small, modest,

  1. Sounds like and interesting town to visit, and I’m betting the streets are NARROW! 🙂

  2. I looked at the photo of Nordlingen and thought – that looks familiar. Then read that i’s set in a crater due to meteor.. Ah, hey, Teen! What was the name of the town used in Princess Tutu? The anime Princess Tutu (which is a lot better than the title suggests) used Nordlingen for the setting. We’ve identified building, statues, etc. in it.

  3. Readers of Julian May’s “Saga of Pliocene Exile” will also be familiar with Nordlingen, or at least the impact crater around it. She used the Nordlinger crater, a.k.a. the Ries crater, as the “Ship’s Grave,” the crash site of an extraterrestrial Ship six million years ago.

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