Kraków (Cracow) is the second largest city in Poland. It is also one of the oldest ones. This city, situated on the Wisła (Vistula) river, has been one of the leading centers of academic, cultural, and artistic life in Poland for centuries. As such, it is a must see for urban travelers, architecture lovers, or history buffs.
- Throughout the history, Kraków was the capital of numerous Polish states, entities and regions. Today it is the capital of the Małopolska (Lesser Poland) region.
- Before the World War II Kraków had a large Jewish population. During the war its Jewish population was forced into a walled zone, known as Kraków Ghetto.
- Jagiellonian University, one of the oldest surviving universities in the world, was founded in Kraków in 1364.
- Karol Wojtyła, Pope John Paul II, was born in the nearby town of Wadowice. He moved to Kraków for his studies where he lived and worked until he was elected the Pope in 1978.
- In 2000, Kraków was the European Capital of Culture.
- Entire Old Town of Kraków is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
We recommend going to Kraków during summer months; however, if you are prone to cold, Kraków is magical during winter months too. All you have to do is to bring your warm clothes and to sip a hot glass of mulled wine every now and then. For now, enjoy the photo diary below.
Kraków’s Rynek (Main Square) is one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe. Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) and Kościół Mariacki (Saint Mary’s Church) are the focal points of the square. On every hour, a trumpet signal – Hejnał mariacki – is being played from one of the Saint Mary’s towers; the tune abruptly stops to commemorate the famous trumpeter, who was shot in the throat while alerting the city about the imminent attack. The town hall has not survived to the present day.
Mały Rynek (Little Main Square) is another jewel of the city. It is located right behind Saint Mary’s Church.
Wawel is a fortified complex erected atop a rock on the left bank of the Vistula river. It consists of many buildings and fortifications – the best known are the Royal Castle and the Wawel Cathedral.
At the foothill by the river there is Smok Wawelski (Wawel dragon), a mythical beast who ate virgins.