On the way from the Krakow Market Square to Wawel, you can come across the area near the All Saints' Square and Poselska Street. Those less familiar with the city's topography may feel somewhat surprised to discover the majestic structure of the Wielopolski Palace, which houses the Krakow President's Office, the Krakow City Hall, and the Krakow City Council. Many tourists, upon learning this, widen their eyes in astonishment, finding it hard to believe that, like many other lesser-known cities, the seat of municipal authorities is not located directly on the market square. It's just an interesting fact, but it is not the essence of our story, as our interest lies not with the current inhabitants of the palace but with the people who populated it centuries ago and, for some reason, as many claim, refuse to leave to this day. We will pay special attention to a certain elegant lady who has a fondness for black. You are welcome to join us, provided, of course, you are not afraid of ghosts.
The former Wielopolski Palace was built for the Grand Crown Hetman Jan Tarnowski. This magnate, an extremely influential figure in the 16th century, wanted to reside closer to the king and, as they say, keep his finger on the pulse. The Tarnowski family owned the property until roughly the middle of the following century when it passed into the hands of the Wielopolski family, from whom it took its name. The palace remained in the possession of the new owners until the memorable year of 1850 in the history of Krakow when the entire building, along with its surroundings, burned down in a great city fire. After some turmoil, the property was taken over by the City of Krakow and to this day serves as the residence of the city authorities, popularly known as the Magistrate.
That's the history, now we know roughly what we're dealing with. Let's move on to the 18th century when a young vicar crossed the threshold of the palace and experienced something that went beyond the rational worldview of the Enlightenment era.
We owe this story to the Bishop of Krakow, Ludwik Łętowski, who heard it in confession from a certain centenarian priest on his deathbed. This priest, still a young vicar, participated in the incredible and terrifying event in the 1770s.
On a particularly stormy night, a hooded stranger summoned a priest to the deathbed of an unknown person. When the priest and the church sexton left the rectory, a carriage with tightly closed and covered windows was waiting for them. They were forced to get into the vehicle. They were driven around the city for a long time, so they completely lost their orientation.
Finally, when they arrived at their destination, they were immediately blindfolded and led into the unknown. The bandages were only removed in a richly furnished room. An older man in a mask sat behind a table covered with a cloth, and next to him was a young, weeping girl dressed in black. The mysterious man rather rudely instructed the priest to hear the terrified woman's confession and prepare her for the journey to the other side. The masked stranger dismissed the priest's protests with laughter, and to emphasize the seriousness of his words, he made it clear to the guests that any words of opposition would result in their immediate death. The shaken priest heard the girl's confession and gave her communion. After a moment, a torturer summoned by the host, who claimed to be an executioner, beheaded the woman, and her body was wrapped in scarlet cloth, similar to red draperies that covered the room.
To say that this event froze the young priest and vicar is an understatement. To reassure them, the host offered them wine. The wine, it is worth adding, was previously poisoned by him. The vicar's hands were shaking so much that he spilled most of the drink, while the unfortunate church sexton drank the entire glass. After everything, both guests were blindfolded again and then taken to the carriage. The church sexton died in agony shortly after returning, while the lucky priest miraculously avoided his fate.
By a twist of fate, over four decades later, when the elderly priest was summoned to perform his last duty at the Wielopolski Palace, he immediately recognized the scarlet chamber. He then announced the crime he had witnessed, but few believed his revelations.
It was only at the beginning of the 19th century that new light was shed on the matter when an anonymous print titled "The Wielopolski Family in Krakow" was published in Lviv, describing the case of a father who punished his daughter for a misalliance committed with a servant. The testimony was given by Senator Piotr Bieliński, who claimed that as a young student, he used to visit the Wielopolski Palace, including on that fateful evening, and saw the crime but was forced to remain silent.
From then on, a curse was said to weigh upon the Wielopolski family, and the Black Lady began to appear in the palace. Elderly employees of the Magistrate told strange stories about the black apparition. Supposedly, the ghost of a woman haunted one of the construction workers when he was struggling with an electrical installation in the corridor. There are also stories of officials who, staying after hours, had the unpleasant experience of seeing a woman dressed in black wandering between the shadowy corridors.
A new light, or rather a shadow - we are talking about nightmares and ghosts here - shed light on the case of the Black Lady when, in 1926, the bones of a young woman dressed in the remains of a black velvet dress were found bricked up in a niche in one of the rooms. Who was the unfortunate girl? Did she really come from the Wielopolski family? How did her remains end up in that place? Well, if we believe the story of an elderly priest, perhaps we can answer some of these questions. Otherwise, we are left to believe in coincidences, hallucinations, and... wait! Did something just flash by the window? Some dark figure?!
We invite all those interested in thrilling stories to join our Bloody Tales tour in Krakow, where you can discover more secrets of this kind.