Country: Poland Language: Polish Currency: Polish zloty (zl)
Krakow is Poland’s second largest city. It is also one of the oldest cities in Poland, with much history and cultural significance. From the popular Old Town Square, to the Jewish Quarter and the Vistula River, Krakow offers sights and activities for everyone. In Krakow, you can indulge in freshly made pierogis, Polish sour soup and kielbasa, and wash it down with a cold Polish beer. You can enrich your cultural and historical senses while wandering around the Old Town and the Jewish Quarter. If you need a break from the hustle of tourists in the Old Town, you can have a peaceful wander around Planty Park, a beautiful park that surrounds the Old Town. Or head to Vistula River, where many locals hang out during the summer months. Krakow is a gorgeous city surrounded by plenty of nature, and filled with restaurants and cafes to ensure you get your fill of local cuisine while immersing yourself in the lively Polish culture.
CTW Must See
Old Town Square
Krakow’s beautiful Old Town Square dates back to the 13th century. Not only is it one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe, but in 1978, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the center of the square sits the Cloth Hall, a large hall filled with tiny merchant stalls selling crafts, jewelry, and woodwork. Off to the side of the square is St. Mary's Basilica. This large brick cathedral dates back to 1347. Every hour, on the hour, a trumpeter plays Poland's 5-note anthem four times in a row in each of the four cardinal directions.
Town Hall Tower
Krakow’s Town Hall Tower is the only surviving portion of the Town Hall that once sat in the main square. The tower is 70 meters tall, gothic styled, and sits on a slight lean from a storm that hit Krakow in 1703. At the top of the tower, there is an observation deck, where visitors will find a great view overlooking the Old Town Square. In front of the tower, you'll find a sculpture titled ‘Eros Bendato’ designed by a Polish artist.
Wawel Castle & Wawel Cathedral
Just a short walk from the Old Town Square, Wawel sits up on the hill, making you feel as if you’ve left Krakow completely and entered medieval Poland. The castle can be seen before you begin walking up the hill, and is one of the most important sites in Poland, historically and culturally. The Wawel Cathedral, built in the 11th century, was the coronation site of many Polish monarchs. The statue of the Wawel Dragon can be found in the Wawel Garden, just below the castle and cathedral, along the river. Completed in 1969, the bronze statue represents dragon that was said to have attacked local villagers, until King Krakus promised his daughter to any man who could defeat it. The statue blows fire on occasion, purely for the amusement of tourists.
Church of Saints Peter & Paul
Built in the early 1600s, this Roman Catholic church is located in Krakow’s Old Town on the walk to Wawel Castle & Cathedral. The gates outside protecting the church feature the 12 apostles, and makes for an impressive facade.
Planty Park surrounds the Old Town, standing in place of the city walls that stood until the 19th century. A walk through the 4 kilometer nature-filled park is a peaceful change from the bustling Old Town and Jewish Quarter. The park is about 52 acres, has 8 different gardens, and a variety of fountains and sculptures that create relaxing oases.
St. Florian’s Gate & Krakow Barbican
These icons of Krakow are located on the outskirts of the Old Town within Planty Park. Florian's Gate, built in the 14th century, stands 33.5 meters tall, and is the only remaining city gate. Built in the 15th century, Krakow Barbican is one of three fortified outposts still standing in all of Europe. It was once connected to the city walls and had a passageway that connected it to Florian Gate and the Old Town.
Krakow’s Jewish Quarter was a large center for Jewish people until the war, when it was destroyed completely. In 1990, Polish people rebuilt the Jewish Quarter and it is now a lively neighborhood near Wawel. The Jewish Quarter provides easy access to the Vistula River and some remarkable views of Krakow’s Old Town. Within the quarter, you will find many museum and historical monuments, as well as the Old Synagogue. While it was completely destroyed in the war, it was rebuilt and today acts as a historical museum and monument.
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