A vibrant city, always full of life, a place where variety and stark contrasts are to be encountered across every foot of space, Krakow is the perfect destination for most travelers, regardless of their education and tastes. Exquisite art meets traveling salesmen, the streets to visiting classy old monuments is packing with live performers and the fans of outdoor classical music concerts can always enjoy a glass of mulled wine bought from the rustic stalls.
There is nothing left from the three kilometers long fortified walls that once surrounded the central district known today under the name of Old Town, but the beauties inside it still have an aristocratic air and enough opulence to astonish even the most exigent tourists.
Rynek Glowny is the main market square of the medieval center of the city. While you’ll roam around its over 40 thousand meters square you may want to know that it’s the biggest of its kind in Europe – a place of tremendous historical moments, the square has seen a large spectrum of times and activities, from Vladimir Lenin plotting the revolution in Noworolski Café to public executions and thousands of thousands of merchants walking its unchanged condition.
Podiziemia Rynku. The place that today is one of the most daring museum concepts in the world, a mix of imagination, high-tech and cultural marks, was only a thought-to-be-insane plan of an ingenious architect not more than a few years ago. A short history lesson every tourist must go through, the museum is nothing else than an elaborate perspective on the history of Poland. The permanent exhibitions on holograms and screens reflect the tumultuous evolution of the place, perfectly combining technology with outstanding artefacts – gaining the admiration of the visitors with more classical tastes as well as the one of Y generation.
A great architectural success, the museum expects more than 300,000 guests annually.
Another popular destination for tourists in Krakow is Sukiennice (Cloth Hall), whose history goes back to the middle of the thirteen century, when it most probably consisted in some stalls without any particular architectural distinctness. It was during the twentieth century, however, then the structure was completely finished. While much of its interior was replaced or restored, it still keeps and individuality of all the construction times, harmoniously assembled to look unitary and classy at the same time. Instead of the slopped attics now you’ll see terraces and different stalls with all kinds of souvenirs, from tacky shirts to very fine porcelain glassware. After having walked all along the square fantasizing about the riotous history of the place you may want to have a quiet time for coffee. A very refined coffee house, Noworolski Café is a perfect place to plan the rest of the visit on, just like once Lenin planned a revolution – with a nice cup of tea, surrounded by soft music, in a comfortable chair.
Wawel Hill is clearly your next destination. Just a little Southern from the central square, an Italian-Renaissance appearance that dates from the sixteenth century, constructed of arcaded galleries, guides the visitors to an astounding large courtyard announcing a marvelous Gothic castle. Both the residence of the head of the state and a history museum of the interiors, the monument, known as one of the most exquisite Royal Castles of its time, hosts many exhibitions and conferences and attracts visitors because the number of dynamic and captivating activities in the program.
The place carries a very meaningful national attribute, being the location of most of the crowning scenes in the state’s history. As people will surely inform you, the site burnt down twice, being reconstructed every other time. While the visual image won’t be as impressive as the castle’s, the historical bouquet of glorious moments it gathers makes up for the impersonal appearance. As the eighteen chapels may look uninteresting, you may want to find out they gathered significant scenes for Poland’s history, among which: the tomb of the former Bishop of Krakow St. Stanislaw (1030-1079), as well as the resting places of the former kings and statesmen of Poland inside the royal crypts. At the top of the location you’ll hear the 11 tones Sigismund Bell that it is said you’ll be able to detect from even 50 km away.