Krakow is a great city to visit with an abundance of history and culture. The city centre is compact and easily accessible by foot. Krakow, with its World Heritage Charm, is the cultural capital of Poland with several ‘Different Faces’.
No visit to Krakow is complete without strolling up Wawel Hill. An early morning visit is best to avoid the crowds. Be sure to visit the wonderful Wawel Cathedral where Polish kings were crowned and buried. Also the Royal Castle is a must for visitors to Krakow. Wawel, the Royal Castle is one of the most magnificent Renaissance royal residences in Central Europe. Its stately halls and exquisite rooms are filled with priceless art and period furniture, and the collection of 16th century Flemish tapestries is second to none. Don’t miss the beautiful Renaissance-style courtyard, built in the 16th century.
A short walk from Wawel Hill is Market Square, centre of the Old Town with the famous Cloth Hall and St Mary’s Church. Here you can admire the Gothic high altar, one of the largest in the world.
Another important part of Krakow is the Kazimierz District, the Jewish quarter of Krakow. Here you enter the maze of narrow streets and take a plunge into a different world. Visit the Remuh Synagogue and Cemetery as well as the Old Renaissance Synagogue, now a Museum devoted to the history of Polish Jews. The dramatic history of the Jewish community, exterminated by the Nazis, was presented by Stephen Spielberg who made the movie “Schindler’s List” in this actual setting. Visit the Oscar Schindler Factory-Museum to see the touching exhibition, “Krakow Under Nazi Occupation, 1939-1945”.
Being the cultural capital of Poland, you can admire art in many galleries and there are many museums worth visiting. See works by the Great Masters of Polish Art in the Stanislaw Wyspianski Museum and Josef Mehoffer House. Or visit the Czartorysk Museum which houses Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine”, the only Leonardo in Poland. Visit the National Museum with its collection of modern art and also the newly opened Museum of Contemporary Art of Krakow, with its collection of Polish and international contemporary works of art.
Krakow is also a University City and in the year 2000 the Jagiellonian University celebrated the 600th anniversary of its foundation. It is the oldest university in Poland and second oldest, after Prague University, in Europe.
A must excursion from Krakow is to Auschwitz. Auschwitz is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it represents the ultimate horror of the holocaust. More than one and a half million people were killed at Auschwitz and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Today, the grounds and buildings of both camps are open to visitors, as a museum and a poignant memorial.
You should also visit Wieliczka Salt Mine which is an enormous network of underground chambers. Salt was also used as a building material in the carving of underground chapels and altars in front of which the miners prayed for God’s providence and protection against accidents. The Wieliczka Salt Mine Museum is housed inside the mine.
The featured photo isn’t mine, but I was there and it is as beautiful and interesting a city as you could hope to visit!
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