Krakow, Poland

Polish Street Food - Krakow, Poland
Polish Street Fair Food - Krakow, Poland
Florianska Street St. Mary's Church Krakow Poland
Florianska (Street) & St. Mary's Church
- Krakow, Poland
St. Mary's Church - Krakow, Poland
St. Mary's Church - Krakow, Poland
Horse Carriage in Rynek Glowny (Main Old Town Square)
Horse Carriage in Rynek Glowny
(Main Old Town Square) - Krakow, Poland

Celebration of Winning Soccer Team - Old Town Square
Celebration of Winning Soccer Team
in Old Town Square - Krakow, Poland
Fire Breathing Dragon on Wawel Hill - Krakow, Poland
Fire Breathing Dragon on Wawel Hill
- Krakow, Poland
Polish Lunch - Krakow, Poland
Polish Lunch - Krakow, Poland
Krakow, Poland (5/27-30/2011)

Krakow can be summed up with the words “effortless beauty” and we completely enjoyed Krakow.

Krakow is filled with good restaurants and clubs, monuments, and many old churches and beautiful buildings. Pedestrian only zones run throughout the Krakow's old city making it a delight to wander and have lunch or dinner outside. The hundreds of restaurants and clubs make Krakow a lively place day and night.

Because Krakow escaped major damage during WWII, the architecture is beautifully preserved, not rebuilt like many other cities in Europe. Krakow was Poland’s historic capital and its Old City (Stare Miasto) and Wawel castle hill are listed as USESCO World Heritage sites - a well deserved honor for Krakow's Old City of about 4 miles of preserved streets and centuries-old buildings and monuments.

Krakow’s old town main square (Rynek Glowny) is the largest medieval town square in Europe. Ringed by Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings, it looks much as it did in the 13th century and there is always something going on. Here you can listen to the Trumpet Signal (Hejnal Mariacki) every hour playing the warning that is suddenly cut off in memory of a trumpeter shot and killed by a Tatar arrow in 1241.

Located in Krakow's main square is the beautiful 14th-century Gothic cathedral of St. Mary’s, the 16th-century Renaissance Cloth Hall where you can now purchase souvenirs, the Town Hall Tower, and scores of outdoor restaurants. 

The Wawel Castle and Cathedral are a source of pride for the Polish people having 43 of their kings rule from here over a period of 500 years during Poland’s golden period until 1596.

Krakow is also the site for the setting of the Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List with Schindler’s factory walking distance from Krakow’s old town.

There was a food and wine festival going on when we visited Krakow. Polish food is hearty and we felt it in our stomachs having filled up on pierogi (dumplings filled with cheese, potato, meat, cabbage, and/or mushrooms), bigos (sauerkraut stew with a variety of meats), gotabki (stuffed cabbage), and kielbasa (Polish sausages). The Krakow Film Festival was also going on so being the movie buffs we are we took in a couple of films. The films were pretty edgy.

'Last Supper' Salt Carving at Wieliczka Salt Mine - Poland
Last Supper Salt Carving
- Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland
We also took a day trip to the surprisingly interesting Wieliczka Salt Mines, another USESCO site. Years ago food was preserved with salt so salt was extremely valuable. For hundreds of years, they mined this massive salt deposit creating a hundred miles of tunnels on nine different floors to a depth of nearly 1,000 feet. What is incredible about the Wieliczka Salt Mines is that the miners and artisans crafted huge chambers (some made into churches and dinning halls), statues, and reliefs all craved out of the rock salt (see photo).

Beautifully Preserved 13th Century krakow
Beautifully Preserved 13th Century krakow
Some history... Through trade with other parts of Europe, Krakow became a wealthy city. In 1038, Kazimierz the Restorer of the Piast Dynasty made Krakow the capital of Poland. Krakow was almost entirely destroyed by Tatars in 1241 and then rebuilt to a design that remains largely unchanged to today. 

Becoming a center of science and the arts, the 16th century was Krakow's golden age. In 1569, Poland was united with Lithuania and as a result government activity started to move to Warsaw that became Poland’s capitol in 1609.

Beautiful Krakow Poland
Beautiful Krakow, Poland
Krakow is now considered the cultural capital of Poland. A huge sense of pride for residents of Krakow is when the Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, was made Pope John Paul II in 1978. Krakow is now Poland's second largest city, with a population 756,000 (1.4 million including surrounding communities) of Poland’s 38 million.

Please see our other post on Poland:

Wroclaw, Poland


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1 comment:

  1. Hello Wayne and Pat. My name is Angie. I was traveling with my father, Michael. I don't know if you remember, but I was the Australian girl who showed you the way from the bus station to the edge of the old town of Krakow and gave you a map :) Was just going through some things I brought back from my trip and found your card that you gave me. I am going back to Europe again in 2012. Going to France, Portugal, Czech Republic, Germany, the Greek Island of Lesvos, Turkey, and on my way home, Singapore. I hope your travels are going well, and wish you both all the best :)

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