Are you planning to visit Poland? Are you going to Krakow? Are you going to spend a few days in the City of Kings? It’s great. Below you will find a list of some of the most popular places you can visit in Krakow.
1. Old Town
An absolute must-have. It is here that the famous Krakow Market Square is located. During the Middle Ages, it was the largest square in Europe, reaching up to 40,000 meters! The Krakow Market Square is also home to some of Krakow’s most important monuments. These include, above all, the majestic 13th-century buildings: St. Mary’s Church and the famous Sukiennice. Floriańska Street, one of the most famous in Krakow, is located nearby. It leads directly to the medieval city walls.
Nearby is the oldest museum in Poland, the highly valued Princes Czartoryski Museum. It is among his rich collection that you can see two of the most famous paintings: Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci and Landscape with the Good Samaritan by Rembrandt.
In the Old Town, it is also worth visiting Collegium Maius – within the walls of which the oldest Polish university (former Krakow Academy) founded in 1364 by King Casimir the Great has its seat. It was here that he studied famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. On Franciszkańska Street there is the Papal Window – the most famous window in Krakow. It was from this place that the Polish pope, John Paul II, spoke to thousands of young people who came to meet him.
This is the oldest part of Krakow. The Royal Castle and the Wawel Cathedral are located on Wawel Hill. Wawel is considered a Polish pantheon, a place particularly connected with the history of Poland and this part of Europe. For centuries, it was here that the kings of Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had their seat. Royal coronations took place in the Wawel Cathedral, and almost all Polish rulers from the 14th to the 18th century are buried in its crypts.
At Wawel, you can also visit the Dragon’s Den. According to the legend, it was here that the Wawel Dragon had its cave. Today, there is a monument to him nearby. If you wait long enough, you can see the fire that comes out of the dragon’s mouth.
3. Jewish Kazimierz
The beginnings of Kazimierz date back to the 14th century. It was then that the King of Poland, Casimir the Great, founded a separate city near Krakow. Over time, this place became famous as the capital of Polish Jews, the most important Jewish city in Poland. Currently, Kazimierz is known for its unique atmosphere, street art and countless restaurants, cafes, and pubs.
One of the best-known local traditions is going out for Zapiekanka with friends. The most famous place is the so-called Okrąglak located on Plac Nowy.
Near Kazimierz is the area of the former ghetto. It is located in Kraków’s Podgórze district. The ghetto was established during World War II by the Nazi German occupation authorities. It took place in March 1941. In its ridges there were about 17 thousand. Jews. Only a few managed to survive. In 1943, the Kraków ghetto was liquidated and its inhabitants were transported to the extermination camp in Auschwitz and the Kl Plaszow labor camp.
The White Eagle Pharmacy operated in the ghetto. It was led by Tadeusz Pankiewicz, one of the greatest heroes of World War II in Krakow. Pankiewicz was the only non-Jewish resident of the ghetto. Thanks to his help, many Jews received invaluable help in the form of e.g. free medicines and counterfeit documents. For his achievements, Pankiewicz was honored by the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem with the Order of the Righteous Among the Nations. Currently, the building of the former pharmacy houses a museum dedicated to the fate of the inhabitants of the Krakow ghetto during World War II.
A few minutes from the pharmacy, we can see the original ghetto wall from World War II. It is located in two places: on Lwowska and Limanowskiego Streets.
5. Schindler’s factory
Outside the ghetto walls is the famous Oskar Schindler’s Factory. For many Jews, the opportunity to work in this place was the only chance to survive the Nazi German occupation. Thanks to the help of Oskar Schindler, over 1,000 Jews were saved from the extermination that awaited them. Currently, in the former factory there is a museum, opened in 2010.
The museum tells the story of the citizens of Krakow during World War II. It is a shocking story showing the cruel fate of the Polish population during the Nazi German occupation. Currently, it is one of the most popular places visited in Krakow. The famous film Schindler’s List, shot in 1993 by Steven Spielberg, certainly contributed to this.