Krakow is a stunning city with plenty of landmarks, museums, galleries, restaurants, and one of the most well-known main squares in Poland. Because the city escaped most of the WWII destruction, Krakow’s Old Town centre still delights its impressive medieval architecture. The Historic Centre of Krakow, in 1978, was declared the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world.
The city used to be a Polish Capital, up until the 16th century. These days it’s the most popular traveller’s site in Poland. It ranks higher than the current capital city of Poland – Warsaw.
Every time I visit Krakow, I try to focus on a different quarter, because each and every of them hides real gems.
There’re way too many sights and points of interest to see all in one day, but let me just list the must haves.
ST. FLORIAN’S GATE AND THE BARBICAN
Tourists coming from the main train station will enter the inner town through the St. Florian’s Gate, one of the city’s symbols. Florian gate is what’s left from the XIII century wall around the city. Today, at the 34-meter-high gate, from Florian street, there’s a vivid and vibrant open-air art gallery. I can’t get my eyes off the bright and colourful pictures, every time I walk by. And the Barbican is nothing else than a building that used to protect the entrance gate. Barbican, characteristic for the medieval ages is built on a circular plan. The one in Krakow is one of the best-preserved in Poland.
A beautiful park surrounding the city centre may be a perfect place to run away from the scorching sun in the summer or to get some rest from the tiresome sightseeing. The park is a wonderful green space that makes the city’s excursion even more delightful.
OLD TOWN SQUARE
Measuring 4 ha, the Krakow’s Main Market Squares is the biggest one in Krakow, and also one of the biggest medieval squares in Europe. The main square cannot be missed during your visit to Krakow. The Mary’s basilica, Krakow Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), and Town Hall definitely stand among other buildings. Also, since 2010 an underground tourist’s route is available. The exhibition is a combination of multimedia presentations and archeological reserve. You’ll learn a lot about the city’s history and the beginnings of the museum in an interactive way.
The majestic Wawel Royal Castle and cathedral are one of Krakow’s top attractions. Either start with the Dragon’s Dem, Sandomierska Tower, or Royal Gardens, but you shouldn’t miss a thing. Both the interiors and exteriors are a great history lesson. Castle Hill is now the country’s premier art museum. Its permanent collections and temporary exhibitions see over a million visitors yearly. Throughout your visit, you’ll definitely hear Krakow’s famous legend. It’s about the brave shoemaker, who defeated the dragon and saved the city. The exhibitions are definitely worth a try, but you have to be patient. Long queues, especially in the peak season, are overwhelming.
Having more than a thousand kilometers, Vistula’s the longest river in Poland. It’s where the history of the Polish nation was shaped and it’s where people seek the escape from the hustle of the city. A walk by the Vistula river may give you another perspective on the city. But it also allows you to emerge in your thoughts and forgot about the existing dimension.
Kazimierz is one of the most recognizable places in Krakow. It’s without a doubt a fashionable artistic district, dotted around with independent galleries, vintage boutiques, and most importantly all sorts of bars. From hipster, through shabby chic to the most elegant and expensive ones. It’s also a district, where you can feel the atmosphere of the past decades. Take a moment and search for the typical Jewish buildings, synagogues, and cemeteries. On your way back go through a modern footbridge over the river. It connects the two districts: Kazimierz and Podgórze. It’s unique because of Jerzy Kędziora’s sculptures of acrobats and the padlocks all over it.
IT’S NOT OVER
Krakow is way more. It’s impossible to see all its unique architecture and historical buildings in one day. Every district, just like Kazimierz hides a unique story. Every place, just like Wawel hides important historical facts. Every park, and there’s a lot of them in Krakow gives you a space to relax.
See you soon Krakow.