Krakow: The most beautiful town in Poland
Did you know that Krakow was a capital city of Poland until 1596?
The town is rich in architectural styles, mainly Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic and its atmosphere hits you above all during the evening street lighting. The majority of the historic sights is situated in the centre so a walk through the city is an ideal decision to enjoy the surroundings.
The Wawel Castle
Among the biggest crowd-pullers we can classify the Wawel Hill with the well-preserved Royal Wawel Castle and gothic cathedral. For centuries it was a residence of kings of Poland. Today it serves a museum and the kings and significant people are buried in the cathedral. The legend has it that a dragon hid in a hollow on the hill and terrorized the city. Today there is a Dragon's Den with the dragon's imitation breathing fire of its mouth.
Through the Florian Gate, up the Florian street, you end up in the vast Rynek Główny, the Main Square, which is right in the middle of the town. The prominent feature of the whole place is a statue of famous Polish romantic writer Adam Mickiewicz, under which a lot of people gather and meet. It would be pity to miss the oldest church in Krakow, the Romanesque Church of St. Adalbert built in the 10th century. The square prides itself with a gothic tower, the only preserved part of the former city hall. In front of the tower you find impressive horse-drawn carriages that urge you to take a ride. The Old Square pulses with life the whole day as it offers a lot of typical restaurants, cafés and beer-gardens for get-together with friends.
Another popular building on the square is a yellowish brown market hall Sukiennice, reconstructed from a Gothic style into its today's Renaissance style after it was destroyed by fire. Originally, the sellers offered meat, leather, fruit and vegetable. Nowadays there is infinite number of goods, from souvenirs to gold, silver and amber jewellery and many more expensive stuff. The whole building is lavishly decorated and the upper floor is occupied by gallery of Polish art.
St. Mary's Church
Magnificent red-brick Gothic church is a typical example of so-called Polish Cathedral style, which served as an architectural model for many other churches, e.g. Church of St. Michael in Chicago. It is particularly famous for its wooden altar. Every hour, a trumpet signal Hejnal is played out of the taller church tower Hejnalice. It commemorates an ancient trumpeter who was killed in the line of duty.
The town was surrounded by a double ring fortification, built from 13th to 15th century. The vast part wall was torn down four centuries later. Barbakan is the most preserved part of the fortification system. The gate is used today for various events like the championship of historical fencing.
Every visitor should not miss the opportunity to see the former Jewish district Kazimierz with the great number of synagogues and Jewish cemetery. It is a 15 minutes walk from the Main Square. The place got its famous reputation thanks to director Stephen Spielgberg who shot his film Schindler's List in the grounds. A local museum has number of interesting exhibition showing the hardship of Polish people during the WWII.