15 Top Tourist Attractions in Krakow

Martina Rosado
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> The Wawel Cathedral and the Royal Castle are the most famous attractions in this part of The Old Town. The Basilica Krakowska – a huge, Romanesque church, is a brilliant example of the blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture that characterizes the buildings of Krakow’s golden historic era. One of the reasons to visit this church is for the impressive tomb of the great Jagiellonian dynasty and an exhibition gallery, which features a collection of relics from Krakow’s churches, such as holy water from the Mother of Mercy Church, a small private chapel.

> Klarysewicz Rotunda, on the Wawel Hill, is a somewhat isolated venue in The Old Town of Krakow where you can admire stunning views of Old Town and Wawel Castle. The monument of Vistula River Dolphins, commissioned by Casimir III the Great, king of Poland, is also located here. Also, the Main Guard Station, Royal Armory, and a collection of swords, cannons and armor are part of the complex of the Wawel Castle.

Historical Museum of Krakow

Planty Park

Planty Park is beautiful park located in the second district of Krakow, Lesser Poland, about 2 kilometers away from the historical center of Krakow. This is a perfect place for picnics and spending time in nature.

It consists of a 100 meter-long straight canal, a meandering water channel, and ponds arranged in three circles. In the middle of the park there is an island where you can find a lighthouse.

A wide footpath around the canal leads to a wide wooden walkway. From the central part of the park it is possible to capture a beautiful view of Krakow’s historic center and the Vistula River.

Kazimierz

One of Krakow’s districts is a perfect destination for wandering and wandering in style. Kazimierz offers plenty of excellent examples of architecture, eating, and shopping. In the heart of Kazimierz, you can find the beautiful Cracow Stone Gate, the stronghold of Kazimierz in the Middle Ages. It’s an excellent place for exploring the town.

Kazimierz is the perfect place to take a walk around the numerous streets and shops. You can find a good selection of typical Polish shops and trendy boutiques and very safe and relatively inexpensive restaurants.

Basilica of St Francis

St. Mary’s Basilica, more commonly known as La Basilica or the Grodzka or just Grodno-in-Kazimierzy is a colossal Gothic church, located in southern Kazimierz district in Krakow, Poland. St. Mary’s Basilica is one of the biggest, most spectacular buildings in Krakow.

From the outside, the church looks like a gigantic sugar cube. The interior gives a feeling that you have entered another world: The Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary with its height of nearly 90 meters (295 ft) is quite an impressive sight, especially seeing it from the outside. The most beautiful churches of Krakow are painstakingly constructed in the Gothic style of architecture.

The interior of St. Mary’s Basilica is an impressive sight. The high, vaulted ceiling with its 35 metres (115 ft) is impressive, but the most impressive part is the choir, which is decorated with 700 ivory sculptures.

History

The construction of the basilica began in 1954 and was completed in 1963. The church is 123 meters long, 45 metres in width and has a height of about 49 meters.

The church consists of a basilica, a two nave presbytery, presbytery choir, ambulatory and Lady chapel.

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

If you’re in the Pieniezna Storkowska District, then stop by the Church of St Peter and St Paul, which is a historical landmark in Krakow made famous by Paweł Świrski’s “Conversations about the truth,” a series of essays at the turn of the 20th century.

It’s also the setting of the book “Krakow,” written by Virginia Woolf, author of “To the Lighthouse.” The church was originally built in the 14th century and was remodeled in the 19th century in the Neo-Classic style, and is now listed as a Historical Monument of the City of Krakow.

Today, the church is one of the largest and most impressive buildings in the city, and stands as a testament to the history of the city.

It’s a great place to find views of Krakow, the Vistula River, and to enjoy some of the best architecture in a city that has the most amazing architecture.

Sukiennice (Cloth Hall)

The Sukiennice, or Cloth Hall, is definitely a must when visiting Krakow. Tourists come from all over the world to see this beautiful building, which displays relics from the Middle Ages. It’s a real pleasure to stroll through the building, get your photo taken with bronze lions, and wander in and out of the shops.

Okay, so it’s not exactly that “beautiful,” but with a beautiful purpose, it sure is breathtaking. The Sukiennice joined the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1995. In 1255, King Boleslaók II built the Sukiennice as a gift to the city. It was then, the largest building of its kind in Eastern Europe. Between the 14th and 16th hundreds, the building was repeatedly extended.

The current structure is from the end of the 16th century and stands to this day. It’s the biggest, but also the most beautiful cloth hall in Poland, if not the entire world. Its chapel, with vivid baroque interiors, was the residence of the Rector of the Cloth Hall during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Polish Aviation Museum

Polish Aviation Museum kie’czyós, which is located in one of the buildings of Kraków Airport, is one of the best aviation museums in the world. Thanks to its numerous exhibitions, KLM museum and its unique approach to up-to-date modern aviation, it has become a unique place for aviation enthusiasts to visit.

Museum’s creator, Colonel Józef Dąbrowski, decided to emphasize the future of aircraft design as well as the development of aviation in a particular area.

It is a multiyear project. Now, the museum consists of two halls with separate displays; the first one emphasizing the development of the aircraft engine in Poland. The second one shows the history of the Polish aircraft design and marketing as well as the first Polish plane “Wisl’nskij R-5”.

The second hall presents the entire work of Polish aviators. It tells the story of the first Polish aircraft to exceed 8-kilometers in altitude, called “Ťel-Nągor”, the different aircraft used for military purposes as well as the story of Polish 16th Air Transport Regiment that played a significant role during the Second World War.

Collegium Maius

The Collegium Maius Krakow is arguably one of the prettiest buildings in Poland, and its sister, Jagellonian Library near the entrance of the Jagiellonian University. The building of the Collegium was finished in late 1475 and the Library was added in 1488. The style of both buildings reflect Italian Renaissance architecture, while also possessing a medieval essence.

The Collegium is located in the very center of the Old Town of Krakow. It is named after the two brothers, Vladislaus and Casimir, who financed the building of it and the Library. Their statues, two archway lions or lions of Senat, stand as a symbol of the power of the Jagiellons, who were the first kings of Poland. The lions were also a symbol of the power of Krakow during the eras of Piast and Jagiellonian rulers.

The development of Collegium Maius had a big influence on the city. It is one of the most important elements of the architectural ensemble of the main square in Krakow, as well as of the whole city. The buildings surrounding the square are also a great contribution to the architectural fabric of Krakow. The buildings are noteworthy not only for their age, but also for the emotions and heritage they carry.

Schindler’s Factory

Located in the Podgorze district, this site is also known as the “little Schine”. When the Jewish population came to the Krakow ghetto in 1942, they were deported to the camp at Plaszow. A quarter of these people perished during the transportation or during their stay at Plaszow. Rabbi Menachem Z. Weissmandel and his family found shelter at Schindler’s factory and were protected by Oskar Schindler from 1944 until the liberation of Krakow in 1945.

Schindler, who was a businessman, had bought a factory that until then was used for making bronzeware. After hearing about the atrocities committed by the Nazis, he decided to employ the people from Plaszow. He and his wife established a list of 500 Jewish workers and their families and offered to hire them all at a salary. Schindler was motivated by money, but he had a way of saving the Jewish workers as well. Compensation to the workers was not completely dependent on productivity but also on the fact that without their working the factory was not economical. Schindler was making money and he was saving Jews at the same time.

Wawel Cathedral

The Wawel Cathedral in Krakow is one of the main tourist attractions and the historical center of the city. The cathedral is called “Katolicki Gospodarstwem Wawelskim” (The Wawel Cathedral Administrative Entity) and is a World Heritage Site.

The cathedral itself was built on the old hill fort of the Krakow Castle. The settlement of Krakow was created within the largest barbarian settlement of the Wielbark culture (hereinafter “Vv’bark” culture) people.

The Krakow Castle was an important fortified settlement of the Vv’bark culture founded by the Bohemian tribe of the Lendians in the 8th century. On the order of Prince Piotr Odrzyski, the Krakow Castle was erected by the German colonists in the 1060s. The settlement was named Cracow (City of the Cracow) by the King of Germany Heinrich IV in 1232. The first stone cathedral was built, one of the oldest in Central Europe, within the walls of the Krakow Castle in the 1240s.

Kazimierz

Kazimierz is one of the oldest quarters of the city, and much regarded by the tourist as being the most beautiful location in Krakow. The street called Nowy Rynek is part of the heart of Krakow, where you’ll find the Wawel Royal Castle, located in a green oasis amidst the hustle and bustle. The old quarter was added to the UNESCO List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1978.

The entire quarter was completely revitalized and redesigned in the 1990s in preparation for the millennium. The main street is is still full of old buildings and shops.

The neighborhood is full of bars and restaurants, and the streets are full of people. Here, you’ll also find the real Krakow.

St Mary’s Basilica

St. Mary’s Basilica, only a few minutes from the Old Town, is one of the most important of the three great basilicas of Krakow, Poland. It is arguably the most beautiful, with the most artistic and perfectly restored interior.

The new basilica is the second to be built on the site of a former church of the same name, which had been founded in AD 968 by bishop Krakus. The church was considerably smaller than the present basilica, which was constructed between 1938 and 1951 to serve as a crypt for the old church. It was designed by the Polish architect Stanislaw Szczepanowski.

The Romanesque building from the 12th and 13th centuries is inspired by the Holy Wedding Chapel in the city of Vladimir, Russia, which was one of Pontius’s favourite places in 860. Its most striking features are decorated portals, the pulpit and the side altars.

The Carthusian monastery in Krakow (Czestochowa) is the most important monastery of the Carthusian Order in Poland and the Czech Republic. It is the largest monastery in Southern Poland.

Pope John XXII designated the monastery as a Papal prayer house in 1329. The church foundation goes back to the year 1150, in which a wooden church was erected. The present brick church was founded three years later.

Wawel Royal Castle

This is the 17th century residence of the Great Polish kings: Casimir the Great, Sigismund the Old, and Wladyslaw Jagiello. It is one of the greatest museums in Poland, and the only one that is located entirely within the historic city walls.

The edifice is a blend of Polish Gothic (the famous Sigismund Tower) and Renaissance architecture. It is legendary for the Dungeon of the Royal Castle, which is the only part that survived the Second World War undamaged. It contains the home of the Polish kings for 154 years, the treasure of the state till the end of the 19th century, and the royal treasury to the present day.

The most extensive exhibit is the Oskarina Chamber, where a permanent exhibition of the Crown Treasury features items that date from the times of King Krakowo-Wladyslaw II Jagiello (present day Krakow) and his successors.

The most visible part of the castle is the Gothic palace with residential tower, which was built in the early 15th century for King Kazimierz the Great.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is located underground in the Wieliczka Valley in the borough of Krakow. The mine is around 1.5 miles long, 330m below ground, and is believed to be the largest salt mine in the world.

The main entrance of the mine is a vast cathedral structure, which is the second largest of its kind. The salt from the mine was used to make gunpowder, essential for those fighting Napoleon’s army, a fact that the Austrian Emperor allowed, and the entirety of the mine was abandoned in 1813. The site has been restored and is now open to the public.

Main Market Square

The market square is the heart of Krakow and is possibly one of the most perfect places in Poland for taking photos.

Noted as the place of Cracow’s first guild still standing, the medieval architectural tableau of the market square is a program with special qualities: it combines the characteristics of a functional open space, scenic views, a water basin, and an important social center.

Although much has changed since its founding in the thirteenth century, the market square is now a typical representation of the past glory of Krakow and its times.

This seven-storey building called a Piwnica (cellar) was a granary used for storage in the thirteenth century.

In the fourteenth century, the Piwnica was used as a gunpowder and torch storehouse.

In the fifteenth century it was used as a city hall.

In 1949 the ground floor was converted into a cinema and the second floor was used as a restaurant.

The wooden guardian dragons installed on the corner of the Piwnica were originally placed in the Krakus Market, the old name of the Market Square.

The Piwnica building was restored in 1960… and finally turned into a cultural center.