Krakow Old Town

Krakow is considered the most beautiful Polish city. is one of the oldest cities and one of the largest in Poland. In was established in 1257 upon the Magdeburg Law.  Krakow until XVII c. was a former capital of Poland. Located on the Vistula River (Polish Wisla) region called Lesser Poland attracts by its charm of the atmosphere created by the citizens assiema and palaces. Krakow is the city of history and legend, always mixed together creating a unique atmosphere in the world.

This city is rich in academic, cultural and artistic life has one of the oldest Universities in Europe. Jagiellonian University  was founded in 1364 by King Kazimierz Wielki. Collegium Maius it is one of the most magical sites of Krakow.   The oldest building of Jagiellonian University was funded by Queen Jadwiga in 1400. It was renovated several times nowadays we can admire a peaceful courtyard surrounded with 15th century arcades. It is house of the Jagiellonian University Museum.

During World War II Krakow was changed to a capital of the German General Government with a main headquarters at the Wawel Castle. In 1941 Jewish Population was moved to the Krakow Getto, area surrounded by walls. Later they were transported for extermination to death camps.

During the Nazi occupation and liberation of the city in 1945 Krakow was saved from destruction. That is way nowadays we can admire interesting historic sights: Old Town with 500-600 years old the townhouses, the largest Medieval Square in Europe,  Renaissance Cloth Hall. Wawel Castle is overlooking the city it was a seat of the Polish Kings and place of coronations. Close by there is Cathedral where most of the Kings, Queens and important persons for Polish history was burred there.

Not far from Castle is district Kazmierz,  between the 15th century and until World War II it was a Jewish quarter. Today it is Europe’s one of the largest and most precious complex of Jewish historical sites: 15th century Old Synagogue, Remu Synagogue and Old Renaissance Cemetery, Isaac Synagogue and Temple Synagogue.

Krakow and Lesser Poland is a home place of Karol Wojtyla – pope John Paul II. In Krakow there is many places connected with the pope.

The Old town is a magical place. Kings and their important guests used to come to Krakow through St.Florian’s Gate. It is a 15th century gate, part of a large fortifications system which surrounded Krakow.

The Royal Way
The Royal Way in Cracow is one of the most attractive walks through old Cracow, with numerous buildings of enormous historical and architectural significance. It starts at the Florianska Gate, from where one of the city’s most attractive streets, ulica Florianska, starts and leads up to the Main Market Square. Across the square, ulica Grodzka and then ulica Kanonicza lead up Wawel Hill to the castle, the imposing residence of Polish kings. The cathedral, once used for coronations and where many kings lie buried, stands at the top of the hill. The best-known church bell in Poland, the Sigismund Bell, hangs in the cathedral tower.

Floriatiska Gate – Built at the beginning of the 14th century, it used to be the city’s main entrance gate, one of eight city gates, and was once connected with the barbican. The Piast Eagle which was placed above the gate proper was made according to a design by famous Polish painter Jan Matejko. There is a relief depicting St Florian, the patron of the gate, on the side of the old town.

Walls and Keeps – The city walls were about 4 km long and once included 47 keeps, of which only several have survived. Looking up to the Florianska Gate, the Stolarska Keep (15th c.) and the Ciesielska Keep (14th c.), with the old city arsenal -in between them, can be seen to the left. The Pasmonikow Keep (15th c.) can be seen to the right of the gate.

Ulica Floriariska – There are many emblems on the front walls of the houses along the street. No. 45 deserves special attention as it houses the famous lama Michalika cafe. At no. 41, in the house where the artist Jan Matejko once lived and worked, there is a museum. The Pod Roza Hotel, Cracow’s oldest, with a beautiful Renaissance portal dating back to the 16th century, is at no. 14.

The Church of St Mary – Built in the 14th century. Every hour a bugle call is played from the taller of the church’s two towers. Inside the church is the famous 15th-century altar carved by Veit Stoss, depicting scenes from the lives of Jesus and Mary,  interior decoration polychromes pained by Matejko and stained glass windows from 14th c. made by Wyspianski and Mehoffer.

Main Market Square – The centre of the city, and Europe’s largest medieval city square, covering an area of (200 x 200 m). The shape of the square stayed untouched from year 1257.

Sukiennice (The Cloth Hall) – This building was a centre centuries ago. Originally built Gothic in style, it was rebuilt in the Renaissance style in the 15th century. The main part is used still as a trade hall as it was used before you can buy there souvenirs . On the first floor there is The Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art exhibiting masterpieces by Matejko, Siemiradzki, Grottger,  Malczewski.

The small St Adalbert’s Church at the corner Square was erected in the Romanesque style (11th/12th c.).

Town Hall Tower – The only remains of a 16 -century town hall. There ale big clocks on it, and two stone lions guard the entrance.

Statue of Adam Mickiewicz – A monument to the Polish national bard Adam Mickieiwcz. The benches around the statue are a very popular meeting place for Cracovians and tourists.

Ulica Grodzka – Runs along an old trade route used before the founding of the town. Walking towards Wawel, you cannot miss the beautifully restored Dominican Church on the left. On the right in the background is the Wielkopolski Palace, which houses the offices of the municipal authorities, and next to it stands the Franciscan Church (13th century). Further along ul. Grodzka there are buildings with interesting coats-of-arms on their fronts. At no. 32 stands the 14th-century Podelwie House. Its emblem is a Gothic lion. The emblem of the house at no. 38 comes from the 17th century. The house at no. 53 is the Collegium luridicum, which dates back to the early 15th century.

The Church of St Peter and St Paul – The oldest baroque structure in Cracow, built at the beginning of the 17th century for the Jesuit Order.

The Church of St Andrew – Romanesque church from the 11th century.

Walking across St Mary Magdalene Square leads to ulica Kanonicza, in which there are many buildings dating from to the 15th and 16th centuries, and the Archdiocesan Musem, in which memorabilia of the late Pope John Paul II are exhibited.

Wawel Royal Castle was a headquarter of Polish Kings between  11th and 17th centuries. Nowadays Castle has a shape from 16th century and it was designed by architects from Italy. You can still admire a mixture of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. It can be reached from two sides. From the north, where the cathedral and the northern wing of the royal castle can be seen. The Coat of Arms Gate -at the top of the route was built in 1921. A monument to Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the glorious leader of the Insurrection in 1794, was put on the bastion of King. Wladyslaw IV. The southern road leads from ulica Bernardyliska and the ‘ Bernardine Church.

Wawel Cathedral – Nearly all Polish kings were crowned and buried here, it is as well a burial place of many eminent Poles. Cathedral is surrounded by 19 different is style chapels.