1257 Krakow is granted the municipal charter, planned building
development begins. Floriańska street is laid out, linking Europe’s
biggest medieval market square with the stately Florian Gate (which in
the 16th century was one of almost 50 towers and gates in the town’s
defensive walls). It becomes the main trade route, and also part of the
Royal Route which leads from the fortified Barbican to the Royal Castle
on the Wawel Hill.
The history of the building that today is occupied by Hotel Pod
Różą dates back to the 14th century, however, the earliest available
records that mention it come from the 16th century. It was then called
“the gentry townhouse”, as it belonged to noblemen and magnate families.
Prospero Provano, an Italian courtier of Queen Bona Sforza, is one
of its earliest owners. During the reign of King Sigismund Augustus
Provano cooperates with Italian banks as an agent of the royal family.
He administers rich salt mines and becomes the head postmaster of the
Polish Mail Service from Krakow to Italy.
The townhouse remains in the hands of the Provano family until
1584. In the 18th century it loses its gentry character and passes into
the possession of town councillors. In the early 19th century an
extensive renovation is undertaken in the French style and the guest
rooms are adapted to the hotel use. The building’s façade is partially
converted in the neoclassical manner. The new elevation harmonizes with
the splendid renaissance portal of the front door. The portal (16th
century) is made up of two columns with Attic bases and capitals
decorated with the acanthus leaves.
The frieze features the following Latin adage: " STET DOMUS HAEC,
DONES FLUCTUS FORMICA MARINOS EBIBET ET TOTUM TESTUDO PERAMBULET ORBEM",
which means “May this abode last for long ages, until the ant drinks
the seas, and the tortoise encircles the world”. Beside the inscription
there are two allegoric female figures representing the goddesses of
Victory and Peace. The whole portal is made of sandstone.
In the middle of the 19th century a double door with a neoclassical
cast-iron lattice appears, that harmonizes with the portal. It enhances
the appeal and importance of the building, which is reflected in the
growing popularity and prestige of the new hotel amongst visitors to
During the War of the Third Coalition, in November 1805, Russian
troops march through Krakow, including guard units commanded by the
brother of tsar Alexander I – Grand Duke Constantine Romanov, who is
quartered here on November 18. A month later, after the Napoleon’s
victory at Austerlitz, Alexander I himself spends the night here. To
commemorate their stay, the owner changes the name to the “Hotel de
Russia” inn. The hotel is visited by international guests, for instance
the Persian emissary Mohamed Riza on his way to meet Napoleon. His
exotic retinue arouses great interest amongst the town residents.
Mid-XIX century saw a period of extraordinary prosperity of the
hotel and it is commonly recognized as a first-class establishment of
that type. By that time the hotel has a ballroom and a restaurant.
Eminent guests of that time include the great Hungarian composer Franz
Liszt, who visited Krakow to perform here.
When following the Great War Poland regains independence the hotel
continues changing its owners. The facility now offers 60 rooms, yet is
not the first-class hotel any more. During World War II it is occupied
by the German occupying army and officials. After the war the Hotel is
administered by the relatives of its prewar owner, yet it fails to live
up to its past glory. There are many private apartments in it.
In 1950, with the consolidation of the new, post-war, communist
authority, the hotel, along with other hotels in the city, comes under
the control of the state. Its role is now more of a hostel and its
spacious rooms are filled with bunk beds. In 1970 it closes for 10
years. Extensive renovation follows, bathrooms are built, historic
polychromes are uncovered in several rooms alongside gothic walls in the
cellars. In July 1988 a famous art gallery opens in the cellars. In
1989 the first casino in postcomunist Poland opens here.
In 1994 the Likus brothers enter into possession of the palace and
they restore it to its former splendor and magnificence. In 2005,
following the extensive renovation works and after years of oblivion,
Hotel Pod Różą becomes one of the finest hotels in Poland. Once again
famous guests stay flock here, including cardinal Angelo Sodano together
with the Pope’s retinue, Lech Wałęsa, José Carreras, Roman Polański,
Burt Lancaster, Ludmila Putin or the Panathinaikos Athens football team.