This is the pearl of Polish cities, beautifully situated on both sides of the Vistula River, in the south of Poland. From the 9th to the 17th century, it was Poland's capital and the seat of the Monarchy. It is a magical city, full of countless museums, theatres, and charming cafes. History is intertwined with modernity; practically every piece of stone has its own history. The history is embodied in the numerous i.e. 6000 buildings representing every style of architecture. There are also approximately 2,5 million pieces of art collected in the museums, churches, and archives. Thanks to these unique pieces of cultural heritage, Krakow was entered as one of the sites on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.
The Wzgorze Wawelskie (Wawel Hill) - the former seat of the Polish monarchs, known as the "Polish Acropolis", 4towers over the city. The central part is the Katedra (Cathedral), where the Polish monarchs were crowned, and later laid to rest. The kings from the Piast, Jagielloinan, and one king of the Waza dynasty (who, when "moving" also moved the capital to Warsaw) resided in the neighbouring renaissance Zamek Krolewski (Royal Castle). While visiting the hill, the Komnaty krolewskie (Royal Chambers), Skarbiec koronny (Crown Treasury) and Zbrojownie (Armory) are worth visiting. The Smocza Jama (Dragon's Cave) is located at the foot of the hill, which according to legend, was home to the Wawel Dragon.
The Droga Krolewska (Royal Route) leads to Wawel Hill beginning at the Barbakan (Barbacan)- the medieval fortification (an example of defensive architecture from the 15th century), then through the Brama Florianska (Florian Gate), towards Rynek Glowny (Market Square) down Florianska Street, and continuing on Grodzka Street. Kanoniczna Street ends at the foot of the hill - for some; this is the most beautiful street in Krakow.
Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square) the heart of the city, attracting tourists with its abundance of cafes and pubs, life and music - it is one of the three largest market squares in Europe. It has an area of 200 x 200 metres. Its layout was drawn in the 13th century, and has remained unchanged until the present day. Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) is situated in the centre of the square - a gothic construction now home to various souvenir shops with art and jewellery on the ground floor. - The Gallery of 19th Century Polish Painting, part of the National Museum, is located on the first floor. It displays works of important Polish painters. The oldest church in the city, located in the southern corner of the square is kosciol sw. Wojciecha (St. Adalbert's Church), whose foundations were laid in the 11th century. Overlooking the square from the eastern side is kosciol Mariacki (St. Mary's Church) with the 81 m old watchtower, from which the hejnal is played every hour. The monumental gothic Altar of Wit Stwosz (13 m high and 11 m wide) is found inside. The 70 m Wieza Ratuszowa (Town Hall Tower) stands alone on the opposite side of the square. Each of the buildings in the Market Square could tell its own story - at present, they are home to many famous restaurants and cafes. Krakow is also a city of churches: kosciol sw. Piotra i Pawla (The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul) on Grodzka Street, the neighbouring kosciol sw. Andrzeja (St. Andrew's Church), kosciol Paulinow Na Skalce (The Pauline Church), kosciol sw. Katarzyny (St. Catherine's Church), zespoly klasztorne Dominikanow (The Dominican Church) and the neighbouring Franciszkanow (Franciscan Church).
Krakow is the seat of Poland's oldest university - Jagiellonian University - founded in the 14th century. Collegium Maius is the oldest part of the university. Kosciol sw. Anny (St. Anne's Church), the university church is located just around the corner.
Krakow is also a city full of greenery. The largest of its parks is the Planty - a unique green belt, surrounding Krakow's historic city centre. It has taken the place of the former city walls.
As a City of Culture, the list of Krakow festivals is long and distinguished. The culmination of events took place in the year 2000, in which Krakow was given the title of European City of Culture, by the Council of Europe.
Kazimierz - the former Jewish quarter is an interesting part of the city. The Stara Synagoga (Old Synagogue) is located on Szeroka Street, now home to the Muzeum Kultury Zydowskiej (Museum of History and Culture of Krakow Jewry). The Remuh Synagagoue and the beautiful 15th century cemetery are also worth visiting as well as Izaaka's Synagogue and Tempel Synagogue. Kazimierz is full of cobblestone streets filled with charming cafes and pubs.