Krakow is one of the jewels of Central Europe. Less known than Prague, this beautiful Polish city is just as beautiful as the Czech capital. Krakow is full of churches, museums and palaces built in a tremendous range of styles, ranging from Gothic to Baroque. Moreover, this university town has an impressive number of pubs and friendly restaurants. There are absolutely no reasons not to consider it for your next trip to Central Europe.
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The first pleasant surprise that awaits visitors in Poland is that Krakow can be visited on foot. Strolling through its centre, which is almost entirely pedestrian, proves to be a very pleasant experience. Any stroll through old Krakow has to start with Rynek Glowny
, the Market Square
, which is the largest medieval square in Europe with a total area of 200 feet square. Today, it is more like a social hub than a market; there is a lot of activity here day and night because of the many cafes that surround it. On Rynek Glowny you will notice the old cloth hall of the fourteenth century and the church of Our Lady St. Mary
, a symbol of Krakow.
Then you have to wander through the streets of old Krakow, built on a grid pattern in the thirteenth century. A festival of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural masterpieces masterfully demonstrate the full membership of Poland in Europe. Do not miss the Planty, some pleasant gardens that surround the old city, the Florianska Gate
, a remnant of the ancient walls of Krakow, and the Princes Czartoryski
, where you can see the famous Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci.
Walking through the old Royal Road
, along the Florianska and Grodzka streets you will discover a wealth of beautiful homes, churches and palaces. A special mention goes to the Marie-Madeleine
place, which overlooks the Baroque Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, preceded by the statues of the Twelve Apostles, next to the Romanesque church of St. Andrew, dating from the eleventh century.
A few minutes’ walk from Wawel, between the banks of the Vistula and the old Krakow, you will discover another charming area of Krakow: the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz
, which was attached to Krakow in the sixteenth century. This is a neighbourhood where Roman Polanski and Helena Rubinstein lived, but from a population of about 80,000, only several hundred people survived the Second World War. The Jewish quarter of Kazimierz
has been restored after the fall of communism and Spielberg’s film “Schindler’s List” was partially filmed here, contributing to the revival of the area. There are plent
y of tours organized in the place where the film was shot, so you could embark on one of them if you want to learn more about the history of the Jews in Poland.