Kościuszko Mound is one of the mysterious man-made mounds located around Krakow. Although it’s a bit off the beaten path, it’s a fascinating place, from which you can enjoy magnificent views over the city and where you can find out more about the most famous Polish hero: Tadeusz Kościuszko.
What you can find in this guide to the Kościuszko Mound:
- Kościuszko Mound: Things to know before you go
- How to get to Kościuszko Mound
- How to visit Kościuszko Mound: opening times and prices
Kościuszko Mound: Things to know before you go
Kościuszko Mound is the tallest of the famous and mysterious mounds located in Krakow. With its height of 326 meters above sea level it is the highest point in the city.
In Krakow today there are 4 mounds still visible, but once there were many more. Kościuszko Mound dates back to relatively recent times, but is inspired by the more iconic Krakus Mound (located in the Podgórze district) and Wanda Mound (located near the surreal Soviet-style working-class district of Nowa Huta). The latter date back to prehistoric times and their origins, as well as their original functions, are still a mystery.
They probably date back to Celtic rituals, but historians have had no evidence that they are tombs or anything like that. However, they noted that their position may be related to astronomy, which played some role in Celtic sacred rituals, something similar to the mystery of Stonehenge.
But the Kościuszko Mound has nothing to do with this. Only the shape derives from that of the prehistoric mounds, which are part of the culture and tradition of the locals, but the construction belongs to much more recent times: in fact it was completed in 1823, thousands of years after the other two famous mounds of Krakow (the third being Piłsudski’s Mound, even more recent, built between 1934 and 1937 and located just outside Krakow).
The Kościuszko Mound was built as a monument in honor of Tadeusz Kościuszko, the Polish national hero who is also well known in Lithuania and Belarus. Kościuszko was a military leader and excellent engineer, who fought several major wars (including, curiously, the American Revolutionary War). In the 18th century he was the protagonist of fierce battles against Russia and Prussia, leading several famous uprisings (such as the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794) for the independence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Due to overwhelming numerical and military inferiority, Poland did not win these wars, and suffered a series of partitions. But Kościuszko tried as far as possible to protect the rights and constitution of his people. For all this he entered the collective imagination as a national hero.
For this reason, in the early 1800s, the Poles decided to erect a monument in his honor, financed by popular donations from all over Poland, at the time under foreign occupation.
The mound was built in 3 years with the work of volunteers of all ages and social classes, coming from all over Poland. In total they erected a 34-meter-high mound with a spiral path leading to the top, where a large granite boulder brought from the Tatra Mountains is located, bearing the inscription “to Kościuszko”.
Tadeusz Kościuszko was buried in the royal crypts of the Wawel Cathedral, in the majestic Wawel Royal Castle complex, but people also wanted to remember him with this monument built with soil brought from hundreds of neighboring villages. The surrounding area was to become a settlement for the peasant families who had fought alongside Kościuszko in the various battles for independence.
But as early as the mid-19th century the Austrian authorities (which at the time dominated Krakow) decided to change the plans to the project, intending to build a military base on the hill.
The Austrians then built a brick citadel around the Kościuszko Mound, and then transformed it into a strategic observation point. As compensation for depriving the population of the monument and the old church located at its foot, they built a new brick church, the neo-Gothic Blessed Bronisława Chapel, visible as soon as you arrive at Kościuszko Mound.
The fortifications fell into disuse after World War II, and only in recent years has the Kościuszko Mound been the subject of major conservation works.
Today the citadel walls house some historical exhibits about Kościuszko’s life and Poland’s wars for independence. In addition there is a radio station, a bar and a restaurant.
Climbing the hill can be tiring, but from the top you can have a view of the city. However, the view is mainly on the modern part of the city, made of concrete blocks and council houses.
How to get to Kościuszko Mound
Kościuszko Mound is located just outside Krakow’s city center, surrounded by a forest. If you are not particularly fit, getting there on foot or by bike can be a bit tiring, as the road is uphill.
You can join a comprehensive private tour of Krakow, which includes tickets to major attractions, transportation, and a professional guide speaking the language of your choice. This tour allows you to see all the highlights of Krakow in comfort, including the Kościuszko Mound.
If you want to go on your own, then you could take a taxi (from the old town the fare starts at around 30zł) or trams 1 or 70 to the “Salwator” stop. From here you will have to walk almost 2km uphill, or take bus 100 which will take you to Kościuszko Mound. If you go with your car there is free parking right next to the Kościuszko Mound.
How to visit Kościuszko Mound: opening times and prices
To visit the Kościuszko Mound you need to buy a ticket which also includes admission to the historical exhibits.
The ticket costs 18 zł, and there are some reductions for large families or for students and retirees.
Kościuszko Mound is open daily from 10.00 AM to 6.30 PM. Last admission at 6.00 PM. The best time to go is in the afternoon.
Things to see and do around Kościuszko Mound
Kościuszko Mound is located just outside the city center of Krakow. From here you can take nice walks along the Vistula River or towards the Krakow Zoo (about 1 hour walk).
Check out our must-read list of the Best Things to Do and See in Krakow.
Planning your trip to Krakow? Then these will come in handy: