CRACOW / KRAKOW / Yiddish: KRAKE, KROKE
"Cracovia Totius Poloniae urbs celeberrima"
Cracow the most celebrated city in Poland.
This quotation from XVI centaury city panorama is still actual. You can’t say that you have really visited Poland without spending a few days in Cracow.
Discover the unique charm of Central Europe, exploring all the mysterious places in the city. Dragon’s den, “czakra” energy place on the Wawel Castle and numerous legends and tales will move you back to times of the Middle Ages splendor. The Royal-Cesarean city situated by the Vistula river will fascinate you with its history, architecture and contemporary temperament. Anecdotes and stories based on daily life of the city inhabitants through the centuries will let you fully taste from the Galician, cultural melting pot. We will trace together the roots of chosen families, figures and historical events. We would also suggest, as a dessert, an excursion outside the city. The beautiful lime rocks and castle in Ojcow, monastery in Tyniec or one of the historical famous Mounds will unveil their mysteries to you.
For centuries Cracow was the capital of Poland, the seat of kings, destination place of great scholars and renowned artists. Their presence and impact on the city’s culture is creating a real genius loci – perfect place of Cracow. We will start our stroll on the Wawel Castle dominated with prime examples of XVI centaury Italian Renaissance architecture. Royal Courtyard will move you back in time to knight’s skirmishes and lavishness of royal ceremonies. Cathedral with all its chapels and burial monuments can guide us through the ups and downs of Polish history. We will walk down the castle to the city in full glory and power of the Jagiellonian kingdom. With every step you take you merge into bustling city life. Everything here is kept in good balance. Shop displays try to attract as much as museums, hundreds of churches counteract hundreds of pubs and cafés, thousands of tourists walk side by side with thousands of students. All that is surrounded with soothing calmness of Planty park. Before we reach the Market Square it is worth having a look at the Collegium Maius, the oldest building of Jagiellonian University and in the same time the first Jewish quarter in Cracow. In its XV century walls you can still feel the presence of Nicolas Copernicus. Maybe he was the one who made all the city rotating around the Market Square.
After few minutes walk we shall reach Barbican and Florianska gate, the complex of XIV centaury fortifications. Those only remnants are silent witnesses of the city’s glory and heroism of local population. Now, finally walking down Florianska street and admiring its splendor we will get to the Market Square. Two high spires of St. Mary’s Basilica are casting shadow on one of the largest squares in Europe. To enjoy a unique bird’s eye view on the city panorama, we may climb 239 stairs of its tower, where every hour a trumpeter plays a bugle into four world directions. In the very middle of the Market Square a Renaissance Cloth Hall - Sukiennice building is luring everyone with colorful souvenirs. For centuries this place was a crossroad for merchandise from all over Europe and Asia. Not too many things have changed since than. Not many people know that on the first floor of Sukiennice, just few meters above souvenir stands, you can admire gallery of XIX century Polish painting and sculpture. Our last hint on the Market Square is: "Carpe diem" - "size the day"!
MARKET SQUARE/RYNEK UNDERGROUND - Following the traces of the European identity of Kraków
In autumn 2010 the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow opened its brand new exhibition in the excavated undergrounds of the Market Square and Cloth Hall building. This museum is the result of many years of archeological works undertaken in the very core of 1000 years history of Krakow and close to 800 years since its location. The archeologists reached the base level, indicating the first human activities in this area around 8 meters below the present surface of the market. The museum encompasses 700 archeological pieces, 500 digital models of buildings, 600 3D digital models of city structures in the time span of last 1000 years. During a visit we can admire medieval city stalls, cemeteries, cobblestone streets, jewelry and hundreds of artifacts well enhanced and enriched with multimedia presentations, 3D models and holograms. This new branch of the Krakow's Historical Museum provides a time vehicle across the last ten centuries of the city's history and makes every visitor feel the growing, accumulated city's beauty and potential. It will definitely become the main attraction for both inhabitants and tourists.
Jewish places worth visiting around Cracow:
Wieliczka - three synagogues and Jewish cemetery
Bochnia -two synagogues and Jewish cemetery
Kalwaria Zebrzydowska - synagogue
Chrzanow - Jewish cemetery , collection of Judaica in the local Muzeum
Trzebinia - synagogue and Jewish cemetery
Slomniki - synagogue
Skala - Jewish cemetery
Brzesko - synagogue and Jewish cemetery
Olkusz - synagogue
Skawina - Jewish cemetery
Wadowice - Jewish cemetery
Niepolomice - Jewish cemetery
Nowy Wisnicz - Jewish cemetery
Miechow - synagogue
Kety - synagogue and Jewish cemetery
Andrychow - Jewish cemetery
Zator - Jewish cemetery