Krakow attracts millions of tourists from all over the world every year. It seems that the beauty and magical atmosphere of the city have a magnetic affect. Krakow Old Town was among the first 12 World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO in 1978! During Krakow sightseeing you can explore, step by step, the richness of its history and discover that Krakow monuments and narrow streets has a real power of attraction.
Krakow – over 1000 years of history!
When planning Krakow sightseeing, remember that you are going to see one of the oldest cities in Poland! It was a centre of political power before 1000 (settlements in the area dates back to prehistoric times). Establishing the bishopric of Krakow in 1000 increased the importance of the city. Moreover, in the 40’s of the 11th century Krakow became a capital of Poland and Wawel Hill towering over the city became a permanent seat not only of the episcopal court, but also the ducal. In 1257 Krakow fell under German law and gained its characteristic layout with a checkered grid of streets and the largest market of medieval Europe in the very centre.
From the 14th century almost until the end of the Polish monarchy (in the 18th century), the Cathedral was a necropolis of Polish kings and the place of royal coronations. Krakow Castle and Cathedral gathered the brightest minds and greatest artistic talents working for the bishops, dukes and kings. As a result, some wonderful works of human thought, architecture and art were created.
The oldest university in Poland (the only one in the Kingdom in the Middle Ages) was also founded in Krakow. The art of the Renaissance and Baroque in Poland also flourished right in the city. Over the centuries, many churches were built, and the proud inhabitants used to compare their family town to… Rome.
During Krakow sightseeing, you’ll see that its a more legitimate comparison than it seems. At the very end of the 16th century, the capital was moved to Warsaw and the importance of Krakow decreased. The 2nd half of the 18th century saw the end of the Polish Kingdom divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria. The city flourished again in the 2nd half of the 19th century, becoming one of the key centres of Polish national life in the Habsburg Empire. Krakow came back to Polish borders after 1918. The period of the Nazi occupation during the World War II and the communist era has left many painful marks in the memory of the cities inhabitants, but the greatest historical artefacts survived those dramatic times. Thanks to that Krakow sightseeing is such an amazing experience, and is reminder of a time gone by.
Krakow sightseeing – places worth visiting
The list of places and objects worth seeing in Krakow could end up very long, so we’ve focused on the most important of sights. Being in the city for the first time, you should see three main areas, the Old Town, Wawel Hill and Kazimierz district.
In the Old Town you’ll fall in love with the picturesque historical buildings and the Main Market Square. Renaissance Cloth Hall, St. Mary’s Basilica with amazing Gothic Altar of Veit Stoss inside, and medieval St. Florian’s Gate – these are absolute must-sees! Krakow sightseeing would be incomplete without visiting Wawel Hill. Renaissance courtyard of the Castle and royal tombs of unique class in Krakow Cathedral are just two of many wonders that await there.
The last place we’d like to recommend is Kazimierz. Nowadays, it’s one of the Krakow districts, but in the past it was considered to be a separate city. Tourists love its unique and exotic atmosphere, but its main attraction is the old Jewish quarter, dating back to the 15th century. Finally, you have to see the seven historical synagogues and one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe!
Krakow sightseeing is a great adventure. If you need a guide or simply want to learn more about the city, visit http://guide-krakow.com/.