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About city What to see Gallery Where to stay

Kraków is an ancient city in southern Poland, located on the shores of River Vistula. During the period between the 11th and the 16th centuries it was the country’s capital and a residence of kings. If you want to see a truly Polish city with a long history that is admired by everyone in the country, look no further.

The city was always free and independent, including even the period when Poland was divided and conquered. The city was always the standard of Polish culture and the cultural centre of the entire country.

Kraków is a unique city, built by the most talented of medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Modernist craftsmen. Since it somehow managed to avoid destruction during military conflicts, it still dazzles with its authentic ancient street ensembles, hundreds of valuable architectural and artistic monuments, and an abundance of cultural events. In 1978, the old town of Krakow became a UNESCO heritage site.

On the left bank of the Vistula River, high above the city looms the Wawel Hill – the heart of Poland. The Renaissance-style royal castle of Wawel protects the richest of art and tapestry collections. The local cathedral was always the place for the coronation of kings and presidential inaugurations. Now, it’s the final resting place of many famous Polish luminaries.

Wawel castle in Cracow
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Wawel castle in Cracow

Close to Wawel is the historic Kazimierz District, which used to be home to the largest Jewish community in the whole of Europe. Today, with all of its theatres, concert halls, art galleries and exhibition halls, it’s a true mecca for artists.

The historic Market Square, situated at the centre of the old town, is always full of people who come here to listen to the hourly trumpet melody, which rings from the topmost tower of St. Mary’s Basilica, and ends abruptly in on an off-beat to commemorate the historic Siege of Kraków, when Tatar soldiers shot an arrow at a musician, alerting his fellow citizens about the imminent danger.

Cracow by night
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Cracow by night

After the music stops, tourists rush to visit the Gothic church itself and see the famous altarpiece of Veit Stoss.

The so-called historic Sukennica (‘Cloth Hall’), located at the centre of the old town, offers various local souvenirs and also hosts an art gallery on the second floor. This huge square often becomes the centre of various celebrations, festivals, concerts and New Year’s festivities. The perimeter of the square is packed with restaurants, bars, cafés, cabarets and basement jazz clubs. Christmas Eve in the square is marked by the colourful Kraków Crib Show.

Market behind the Cathedral in Cracow
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Market behind the Cathedral in Cracow

Not far from Market Square you’ll find the palace of the Jegiellonian University (open since 1364). The Old Town is surrounded by the famous ‘Plants’ – the city park-boulevard, which is full of sculptures and artistic monuments.

Kraków is known to be home to hordes of peacocks and dachshunds, including wooden, plush, glass, bronze and watercolour ones – these two animals even made it into the city’s insignia.

The Polish capital is proud to have had the former Pope John Paul II carry out his duties in the city, and here you can buy all kinds of pictures, CDs and video cassettes of him visiting with the local people.

The international Flashmob day in Cracow
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The international Flashmob day in Cracow

The city is diverse enough to cater to everyone’s tastes: from legendary and expensive restaurants with their own interesting histories, to small, cosy diners. Kraków is full of cafés and pubs appropriate to everyone’s pocket. Experts say that they are all characterized by a specific, Kraków style.

But what is ‘Kraków style’ exactly? You can experience it by going to, say, the popular Modernist-style café Jama Michalika – here you’ll find a Parisian atmosphere, the traditional Vienna breakfast and conversations on topics typical of the city – art, poetry and women.

What to see

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