You're heading to Krakow for a weekend dedicated to the nightlife and you do not have the faintest idea what to do during the day (apart from to recover from the hangover)?? Here is a guide about the essential places to visit…
What to see in Krakow
Krakow is a lovely city in the lower Poland, located in the region called “Małopolska” (which means Little Poland), famous for its medieval architecture atmosphere. It has been for long the country's capital, and nowadays it remains his main cultural,, artistic and academic center. With more than eight million visitors each year, it is the major tourist destination in Poland. The city surprises for its small and well-kept historical center, for its huge central square and the well-kept gardens 50 to 100 meters wide that completely surrounds the center.
The historic center of Krakow.
Its main square, the “Rynek Głowny” (literally “Market Square”), is the largest medieval square in Europe, and is surrounded by buildings dating back to the 1500-1700. On the northeast side of the square stands the Basilica of Santa Maria (“Kościół Mariacki”). From the highest tower of the church you will come to hear the sound of trumpet: a bugler performs four times, in the direction of the four cardinal points, a melody cutting her off. The story goes that, a night in the 1241, a sentinel, guarding the city, sounded to warn of the impending invasion of Cracow by the Tartars; the distress signal soon broke due to the arrow that pierced the throat of a bold look-through which the city managed to prepare defenses and repel the attack of the enemy. Since, every hour and every day of the year, the episode is remembered with a trumpet sound interrupted in the middle of the same joke. At the center of the Rynek stands the “Sukiennice”, the old Cloth Hall, now used for the sale of souvenirs and local products to the many tourists.
At the end of the street Florianska we find the only section of the old city walls still standing, at the door of St. Florian (“Brama Florianska”), the only one left of the doors that once defended the city. Now at his feet you can see numerous exhibitions and paintings of local artists. In front of the Brama Florianska is the Barbican (“Barbakan”), a bastion of the military defense of the fifteenth century, built to protect the city gate. From here it lies the city park (“Planty “) that unfolds in a ring around the old city.
The Jewish Quarter Kazimierz
Located in the south-east of the old town, the district was founded by King Casimir III in 1335 and later he was called by his own name. Kazimierz is divided into two parts: to the west is the Christian, and the East one is the Jewish part. In the Christian is the Market Square (“Wolnica”), the Gothic churches of St. Catherine and the Corpus Christi and the Baroque Church of St. Stanislaus. Kazimierz was, above all, the center of religious and social life of the Jewish Krakow. For centuries it was a place full of churches and synagogues in which Poles and Jews lived peacefully side by side, until the Semite community was deported in different concentration camps during the Nazi occupation. Worth seeing is the Factory of Schindler, which is located in street Lipowa, a short distance from the center. The story of Oskar Schindler, the German entrepreneur who managed to save about 1200 Jews destined for concentration camp in Auschwitz, was represented in the famous movie “The Schindler List” di Spielberg.
The Krakow Castle (“Wawel“)
if you love legends, the Krakow Castle (“Wavel”) is just the right place: according to tradition, a dragon lived here, in a cave at the foot of the hill and terrorized the city. The king promised to those who had killed him half his kingdom and his daughter in marriage: A shoemaker managed to kill him. He made him eat a lamb filled with sulfur forcing him to drink the whole river in Krakow (Vistol) to bursting! In memory of the legend, still remains, entrance to the castle, a dragon statue from which flames of fire come out. Beyond the legends, Castle of Krakow is a symbol of whole Poland: it was used as a royal residence and as a place where the Polish kings ruled the country for five centuries, from 1038 up to 1596, before the capital became Warsaw. Many rooms can be visited along with the Royal Chapel, the royal treasury and the medieval armory.
The working-class district of Nowa Huta
it's’ s the industrial district of Krakow built during the socialist period. There are no special attractions. Nowa Huta is fascinating because it represents the model of the city Communist: huge avenues, many green spaces, apartment blocks in typical socialist style. Here the workers of the krakow steelwork lived with their families, and the district was built around the factory.. it is far about 9 kilometers from Krakow and it is impressive for its size: when the plant was still full working there were 40.000 workers, while the only steel mill is great 5 times the historical center of Krakow. its visit ends with the Ark of Peace, The church was built by Karol Wojtyla in strong opposition to the communist regime. According to the socialist regime it had to be the ideal city, with wide avenues, green spaces and a very intense collective life. In practice Nowa Huta was a place polluted by the smoke of the steel where the people were forced to live in all equal and anonymous apartment buildings.
The Salt Mines of Wieliczka
Just 13 km outside the center of Krakow are the salt mines of Wieliczka which for centuries have provided salt and wealth to Poland. After the end of production they have been converted as a tourist spot. Most surprising of all, the “Salt Cathedral“, one true church of 54 x 18 x 12 meters in height, dedicated to the Blessed Kinga, the saint patron of Polish miners. The mines are composed almost 300 km of tunnels with bas-reliefs, decorations, ponds and there is also a space to make saline inhalations. One amazing scenery to more than 100 feet below the surface of the earth, not only for its size but for the impressive beauty of what it appears: floors, altars, and the columns are carved in the salt crystals, and the biblical scenes boast walls of rock salt. To carry out the work it was necessary to remove 20.000 tons of salt and it took thirty years of work. The chapel often hosts concerts and art exhibitions, and is also used as a location for weddings.
The concentration camp of Auschwitz
Auschwitz-Birkenau, located near the town of Oswiecim a few kilometers from Krakow, was the largest concentration, forced labor and mass murder camp built during World War II by the Nazis. Here about one million people died, between deported , prisoners of war, but especially Jews and Gypsies. Today it is a place dedicated to the memory of the victims and the horrors of the Holocaust. The camp is open daily and admission is free.