Kraków is Poland’s second largest city but it is the country’s cultural capital. The city dates back to the 7th century. It is really beautiful and there are nice churches everywhere.
Kraków came out of WWII realativley undamaged. Which is incredible when you think of everything that happened here. The movie Schindler’s List was shot, and took place, in Kraków which gave me a lot to think about as I was walking through town.
Kazimierz has historically been the Jewish quarter of town since the 14th century. The Tempel Synagogue was built in 1860-1862. It was ruined during the war when the Nazis used it as an ammunition storage area.
Rynek Główny is the main market square in Old Town and it dates back to the 13th century. At about 40,000 m² (430,000 ft²) it is Europe’s largest medieval town square. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. In the center of the square is the Sukiennice, the Cloth Hall. It was used to sell cloth, leather, silk, etc. It was rebuilt in 1555 and today is filled souvenir vendors. Being December, you know that there was a Christmas market going on.
Kościół Mariacki is the Gothic St. Mary’s Basilica that is adjacent to the square. It was built in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 14th. It is famous for its wooden altarpiece. Prior to the start of the war, the altar was taken apart and stored in crates across the country but wound up in Germany. It was put back in the church in 1957.
Kosciól swietego Piotra i Pawla, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, was the first Baroque church in Kraków. It was built by the Jesuits and is best known for statues of the 12 disciples in front.
Karol Wojtyła grew up in Kraków’s and became Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. His image is everywhere in the city so you know for sure he was a local boy.
Wawel Hill is home to the Royal Castle and Cathedral. The cathedral is Poland’s national church and mausoleum. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time on this visit so I’ll check it out next time, maybe in spring or summer.My first priorities were to visit Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mine. I really enjoyed my quick trip to Kraków.