A Tour Of Krakow
When people are thinking of visiting Poland, Kraków is one of the first places that comes to mind. In fact, thanks to its beautiful architecture, medieval history and vibrant city life, Kraków is the most popular tourist destination in Poland. The city is so spectacular that it is often referred to as “the Florence of the North.”
When you are going to Kraków, you will want to book accommodation before you arrive, since the city can be extremely busy during the tourist season. Fortunately, Kraków has a wonderful selection of hotels, ranging from inexpensive hostels through to five-star luxury. If you want to experience the best accommodation that Kraków has to offer, consider staying at the Copernicus – this is one of the best hotels in central Europe, and is a firm favorite with visiting celebrities and dignitaries. Alternatively, look to get a timeshare in the area – there are a number that operate using the Royal Holiday timeshare model that is familiar in the United States.
There are three districts in the center of Kraków that together make up the historic core of the city. These are the Old Town, Wawel and Kazimierz – the former center of Jewish life in the city prior to its systematic destruction during World War II by the occupying Nazis. You will want to take at least a day to visit each of these areas, since there is so much to see and do.
Much of the Old Town in Kraków dates back to the 13th century, and the area is home to palaces, magnificent churches and a large number of historical houses. It also has the largest market square in Europe – one of the many reasons that this area is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Begin your exploration by taking a walk down the Royal Route, which is flanked by many of the Old Town’s many attractions. This was the path that Polish kings traveled when Kraków was the royal capital of Poland from the 14th century to the 16th century. Also take time to stop in at many of the historic churches in the area, many of which have stunning interiors. The oldest of these is St. Adalbert’s – this dates back to the 11th century, and is an eclectic mix of Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
Wawel lies on top of a hill directly to the south of the Old Town, and contains many of the most important historic buildings in Poland. This is a national symbol in Poland – think of it as having the same importance as a combination of Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey would in the United Kingdom. Pay a visit to the Cathedral – this glorious church is considered by many to be the single most important building in Poland. The interior has no less than 18 separate chapels, and the Royal crypts that lie under the Cathedral are the final resting place of many Polish kings and statesmen. The other major attraction to see in Wawel is the Castle – this was the seat of Poland’s rulers until the capital was relocated to Warsaw in 1596.
Have you been to Krakow before? What was your favorite thing or place to see there?