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Krakow is a beautiful historical city in Poland. There is a lot to see and many of the sites are strongly connected with the religious and the royal heritage of the city. One can get easily lost with so many places to visit, but certainly this is a destination that deserves to be included in any good itinerary. So as to use one’s time well and get a nice crossection of things here are ten aspects we think shouldn’t be missed in a visit to Krakow.
1- Wawel Castle:
There is not a more representative place in Krakow that this. It is a beautiful complex that welcomes visitors on the top of a hill. It was the center of power for Polish rulers even at the end of the first Millennium. The Cathedral in the center of the Castle is something not to miss, a beautiful church where many monarchs were crowned. It is free to wander around the castle and in the main part of the Cathedral. The buildings house several museums that are worth a visit.
2- Kazimierz and the Jewish Ghetto
This is one of the areas with strong connections with the Jewish heritage of the city. There are Jewish cemeteries, ancient synagogues, and many great places to eat. Kazimierz has a very lively nightlife and a strong cultural life. It is amazing to walk around the beautiful cobble stoned streets and then one has to move to the other side of the river where once the Jewish ghetto was centered.
3- A dinner in one of the Jewish restaurants:
Krakow is a city with strong Jewish roots and it offers some of the best dinning options for those who want to explore Jewish delicacies. There are very good restaurants especially in Kazimierz and the best part of all is that even the most splurge ones are still quite affordable.
4- The ancient walls: The best part is Florian Gate:
a beautiful tower built in the XIV century as part of the defensive complex against the Turks. This is the formal entrance to the old Town, a corner always full of people with many artists offering their paintings and souvenirs. Here is where one can start experiencing the soul of Krakow.
5- An escape to the mountains of Zakopane:
Even if Zakopane deserves a trip in itself for those with more limited time it can be included as a short trip or weekend escape. Particularly well regarded in winter the Tatra mountains are beautiful all year round. There are some of the best places for the practice of winter sports and the rest of the year there are countless opportunities for hiking, fishing or just to enjoy nature. The Downtown is a colorful village, certainly a nice destination to visit.
6- Main Market Square:
This is the real center of the city. It’s such a beautiful place especially at night where carriages and horses take over the old coble stones. Many restaurants and cafes are around the square and of course it is possible to see from there the towers of several of the ancient churches. In the center of Market square is located the cloth hall, a market centuries old that even nowadays continues being an excellent place to buy some of the best souvenirs offered in the city.
7- St Mary’s Basilica:
It is hard to decide which churches to visit in Krakow where there are so many and so beautiful but this is certainly one that should not be missed. There is an impressive altarpiece painting among many other breathtaking religious decorations and images. A place that is an authentic witness to Polish Devotion.
Many offer a free day for permanent exhibitions. Some that are worth a visit are the Museum of XIX century Polish Art located in the Cloth Hall and the National Museum for both places Sundays is the free day. The Cathedral Museum in the Wawel Castle hosts amazing collections of religious items as well ancient royal artifacts.
9- Corpus Christi Church:
This is the biggest Church in Kazimierz, it is dated back to the XIV century. Another fine example of beautiful religious art with a particular polish touch. It is a church beloved by locals and visited everyday by many.
Located 75 kilometers from Krakow. A site that produces mixing feelings in people but one that has never to be forgotten so that something like this will hot happen again. There are several trains and buses, and it is perfectly possible to take it as a day trip. One has to be in some way mentally prepared but is something that will leave an everlasting memory in the visitor.