The royal capital for half a millennium, Krakow has witnessed and absorbed more history than any other Polish city. Moreover, it came through the last war unscathed, so it has retained a wealth of old architecture from different periods. The tallest structures on Krakow's skyline are not skyscrapers but the spires of old churches, the 20th century's impact having been confined to acid rain. Yet Krakow is not a silent memorial to bygone events: it's a city alive with character and soul.
Ringed by parkland, the Old Town is compact and utterly charming. The Main Market Square is flanked by historic buildings, museums and churches. St Adalbert's Church is one of the oldest, dating back to the 10th century. If you catch an enthusiastic priest at his most generous he might open the coffins in the Church of the Reformed Franciscans enabling you to reconfigure your lunch with a gawk at some mummified bodies.
One of the best museums is the Czartoryski Museum, with an impressive collection of European art, as well as Asian handicrafts and armour. Krakow was Oscar Schindler's stamping ground and there are tours tracing the steps of his story and some of Mr Spielberg's film locations.
10 Mar 1999 - Krakow, PolandAs the only European city to be untouched by WWII you realise what the ravages of war have taken away from the rest of Europe. Only a lack of film prevented me taking more photos (the pre-digital days!).
After flying to Warsaw from the gastronomic wilderness that is/was Bulgaria and then immediately travelling to Krakow it was great not to see a fast food chain but instead plenty of restaurants offering good value, quality Eastern European food. So after a day of sight seeing we settled for a Hungarian before proceeding to several bars and finally the Bar Studentski which you can imagine is tailored for the student crowd.
The second day was spent looking/shopping in the main market situated on the square. After this we went on a whistle stop tour of several locations before our train back to Warsaw. The Czartoryski Museum had a rich collection of art, some of it being Da Vinci's. This took most of the morning so then we had to run from site and allowed us take in some other sections of the old city and the palace on top of the hill overlooking Krakow. After that it was then a mad dash to our hotel to collect our bags and then another dash to the train station.
Krakow - Krakow Market Square
The main square dates back to the 13th century and – it is the largest (200 by 200 meter square) medieval town square in Europe. The square is surrounded by old brick buildings and palaces, almost all of them several centuries old. The square was purposefully designed to be large, to attract passing merchants so they would offer their goods in Krakow, which at that time was the capital of the Kingdom of Poland.
Krakow - Krakow Medieval Walls
The city was almost entirely destroyed during the Tatar invasions of 1241, 1259 and 1287 hence the necessity of defences. These are a portion of the medieval fortifications