Krakow City is the second largest city in Poland and dating back to the 7th century, it also belongs to one of the oldest cities in the country.
Thanks to its colourful and long history (serving as the capital during several periods in the past), Krakow has a strong tradition in being cultural, academic and economic centre with many important educational and art institutions and cultural venues as well as it is home to a number of companies of national importance.
During the World War II, the city was turned into a German city, removing all Jews and Poles, as part of the separate Third Reich region.
Despite the occupation, Krakow City remained spared of major damage which preserved most of the historical architecture.
During the communist era, the concrete suburb of Nowa Huta and the largest steel mill in the country were created. This led to industrialisation of Krakow city, which strongly contributed to the population growth.
The well-preserved Krakow’s Old Town has been added to UNESCO World Heritage List as first of its kind.
Krakow city today is providing a great mixture of historic architecture of different styles. The medieval charm from past with graceful streets are perfectly accompanied with museums and historical buildings on one side, and world class bars, restaurants and clubs on the other.
Main Market Square: The main market square in Krakow (also called Rynek Główny) is a central, 40 000 square metres large, medieval square and natural gravitation centre of the city.
The main square surrounded by historical townhouses was ranked as the most beautiful square in the world in the prestigious list by Lonely Planet. Right in the centre there is a beautiful, in Renaissance style built, Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) from the 14th century with its museum constructed underneath and the 19th Century Polish Art Gallery on the second floor.
The main market square, which attracts tourists from all over the world, thanks to its stunning beauty, was originally a place with market stalls, then venue for public executions and ceremonies and nowadays serves as stage for various celebrations and events and also houses numerous souvenir and craft shops.
Gothic Wawel: Both the Gothic Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral (full name the Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus) are majestic sites located on the Wawel Hill. The Wawel Royal Castle from the 16th century is a historical site of national significance and now serves as a museum with five different sections including State Rooms, Royal Private Apartments, Lost Wawel, Crown Treasury & Armory and the Exhibition of Oriental Art.
Church of Our Lady: St. Mary’s Basilica (also known as Church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven) is a Brick Gothic Church overlooking the Main Market Square in the centre of Krakow. The original church was destroyed in the 13th century and rebuilt shortly after on the existing foundations. The church is dominated by two towers, each of different height. The taller, northern tower is famous for the city’s bugle call hejnał mariacki played every hour. The interior on the other hand is a masterpiece with carved wooden altarpiece.
Royal Archcathedral Basilica – Krakow City
The Roman Catholic Wawel Cathedral on the Wawel Hill (full name the Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus) used to serve as a venue for monarchs‘ coronations as well as their funerals and burials.
The current cathedral dating back to 14th century is a third building on this site as the previous two were destroyed over the history (the first was both completed and later destroyed in the 11th century and the second constructed in the12th century and destroyed by fire in 1305). The cathedral is a glorious example of Gothic structure with chapels built in various styles over the history.
Cloth Hall in Kraków:
The Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) is an impressive, Renaissance building dominating the Krakow’s famous Main Market Square in the city centre.
Once one of the world’s oldest shopping malls (initially mostly for textile trading) in Gothic structure was rebuilt in Renaissance style and refurbished after a fire in 1555.
Today,the Cloth Hall is recognised as Krakow’s main icon. The ground floor is used as a trading centre with souvenir and craft shops and the upper floor hosts the 19th Century Polish Art Gallery with smaller roof terrace overlooking the magnificent square.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine: The Wieliczka Salt Mine (Kopalnia soli Wieliczka) is situated within the Krakow’s metropolitan area. It had been producing table salt since its opening in the 13th century till 2007, thus being one of the oldest ones in operation.
The salt mine consist of 22 chambers and 300 km long labyrinth of tunnels reaching up to 327 m underground. Blending tradition throughout generations, the mine is a priceless monument of Polish culture and the guided tours attract more than million visitors each year.
Church of St. Andrew: Almost a thousand years old Church of St. Andrew is situated right in the Krakow’s Old Town district. The historical Romanesque building is proud to be one of the oldest buildings in the city and initially used to serve as fortress church for defensive purpose against Tatars. The preserved humble Romanesque stone exterior is dominated by two round towers, while the interior has gone through a Baroque makeover and refurbishment after 1700.
Town Hall Tower – Krakow City
The Town Hall Tower is a remain of the Town Hall, dismantled back in the beginning of 19th century in order to open up the main square. The Gothic tower is situated on the Main Market Square, next to the Cloth Hall, and reaches 70 m height.
Interesting fact remains, that the Town Hall Tower, as a result of a storm in the early 18th century, leans about 55 centimetres. The tower has an observation deck on the top floor accessible during season and the inside of the building houses a part of the Historical Museum of Krakow.
Juliusz Słowacki Theatre: The theatre was constructed in Krakow’s Old Town district in 1893 on the previous location of medieval hospital and monastery complex. The Baroque building was named in honour to a Polish poet Juliusz Słowacki. The theatre is one of the Poland’s best known theatres and the whole multi-purpose venue plays a significant role in country’s cultural history.
Church of Saints Peter: In the Old Town district located Church of Saints Peter and Paul is a Roman Catholic building built in Polish Baroque style between 1597 – 1619.
The magnificent Baroque facade and dome both complete the unique exterior.
The church is most popular for its sculpted stone statues of twelve apostles visible from the outside.
The interior is little bit more humble, yet containing some impressive features.