Kraków’s history spans a thousand years and the city, which has been the former seat of Polish kings and Poland’s capital, remains an important European metropolis. The Kraków Old Town is a treasury of works of art, historical memorabilia and buildings representing practically all architectural styles ranging from the Middle Ages up to modernity. For hundreds of years, the Main Market Square has remained the heart of the city. It was among the largest municipal squares of medieval Europe, preserved in unaltered form since 1257. For 600 years, every single hour a trumpet signal is heard from the tower of Saint Mary’s Basilica, played in all four directions of the world. Likewise, the medieval merchants’ hall of Sukiennice, located in the centre of the square, is one of the most easily recognisable monuments in Poland. Kraków can also boast the second (after Prague University) oldest university in Central Europe, that is the Jagiellonian University (attended inter alia by Nicolaus Copernicus and Pope John Paul II) and the Wawel Royal Castle – the Polish royal residence was first constructed on the hill in mid-11th century. The castle’s arcade court – a true gem of renaissance architecture – raises particular admiration.

Other than the monuments of the Old Town, the district of Kazimierz remains a major attraction. Kraków has been a site of many centuries of coexistence of two cultures – the Christian and Jewish ones. The space is filled with monuments of Judaism of world-class significance but most importantly it serves as an area full of life, with antiquities and art markets, atmospheric cafes, restaurants and pubs with live music.

Undoubtedly, Kraków charms with its unique atmosphere – sometimes lazy, sometimes full of excitement, but always exceptional and inspiring. The city, situated for ages on the crossroads of major trading trails, on the verge of cultures and political influences, is full of mysteries and enchanting sites which provide the busy locals and visitors with numerous occasions for slowing down, stopping and taking a look…

For more information see: Magical Kraków

Photo Przemyslaw Czaja/UMK