Krakow Things to Do Tips by Askla
Krakow Things to Do: 1,768 reviews and 3,092 photos
Here is a link to the homepage of the History Museums in Kraków.
Other Contact: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: +48 (12) 426 50 60
The Main Market Square is completely square, measuring 200 x 200 metres. It's the largest medieval square in Poland and probably in all Europe. It was laid out in 1257 and the square itself has not changed over the years.
In or around the square you will find some of the most well known Krakow sights, like the Cloth Hall, the Old Town Hall tower, St. Adalbert's Church and St. Mary's Church.
You can also find a new "monument" consisting of a hollow, cut-off head in the larger size, made of metall. I find this "sculpture" disgusting and ugly (see pic. # 4).
Since most of you will start your sightseeing here, it's good to actually know where the Rynek Glówny, (as is the Polish name) is on the map. Just click the highlighted link.
Krakow has its own leaning tower. It is the Old Town Hall Tower at the Main Square that is leaning. Not much, just 55 cm, but still. It was built of stone and brick in the late 13th century and weakened by several fires during the years it has had its west wall supported by a huge buttress since 1680. But in 1703 an extremely strong wind(!) made the tower leaning.
The tower is the only remnant from the 13th century Gothic Town Hall which was sadly pulled down in the 1820s. It is said to have been a real gem.
Beneath the Town Hall Tower there are cellars which used to contain the city dungeon and torture chamber. Nowadays they contain a café and a theatre.
One can climb the stairs to enjoy the view from the top of the tower, but the 100-step stairs are steep and narrow.
Directions: The Tower is situated on the southern side of the Cloth Hall.
This church is dedicated to St. Adalbert, or Sw. Wojtech (956 - 997). Legend says that the church was erected on a site, where he preached before his missionary expedition to Prussia in 997. But when he passed through Gniezno he was killed by the local tribe. He is buried in the Cathedral in Gniezno (see this link for more information about Adalbert's tomb there:Gniezno things to do.
The church originates from the 10th century (a wooden building) but the one we can see today comes from the 12th century. The inside is even newer, from the 18th century in Baroque style.
In the basement, which is reached from the outside, there is an exhibition showing archeological finds from the church as well as from the Main Square. Unfortunately the exhibition is not opened every day.
Directions: The church is situated in the south-eastern corner of the Main Square.
Phone: +48 (12) 422 83 52
St. Barbara's Church is situated right behind St. Mary's. It was built in 1338 and used to be a mortuary. The church seems to be opened only in the summer.
The first church built on the site was erected in 1220 but it was soon partly destroyed by the Tartars (in 1241). The present church, now upgraded to a basilica, was built on the remaining ruins of the earlier one, that is why it is not at a right angle to the square. What strikes when looking at the church from outside are the two unequal towers. The lower one (61 metres high) belongs to the church and contains 5 bells of which two date from the late 14th century, while the taller, 81 metres high one, topped with a Gothic spire of 1478 and a gold-plated crown of 1666, belongs to the city! It used to serve as a watchtower. The town bugel is played from this tower every hour (performed by a member of the fire brigade if I don't mistake myself). I have heard it should also be played on Polish Radio at noon, but I didn't hear it myself.
Legend has it that a Tartar arrow pierced the throat of the bugler while he was giving the alarm signal - that is why the bugle call breaks off suddenly, to commemorate the buglar of 1241. This has been done since year 1300.
Directions: On the north-eastern corner of the Main Square.
The impressing cathedral we can see today is the third church on the same spot, built between 1320 and 1364. The first one was built by the first Polish king, Boleslaw Chrobry, in around 1020. It was replaced by a larger Romanesque church in the 12th century. The only remnant of this one is the St. Leonard's Crypt. You can reach it through the Cathedral, just remember that the exit is outside so better finish off your church visit by this.
In the nave there is a mausoleum of St. Stanislaus, the patron saint of Poland. The silver coffin was made in ~1670, the baldachin in 1625 - 30.
There are some 18 chapels surrounding the church, the most famous being the Sigismund Chapel, but also the Chapel of the Holy Cross, to the right just inside the entrance, is famous due to its frescoes from 1470 and the marble sarchophagus made in 1492 by Veit Stoss (the creator of the altar in St. Mary's Church). When I visited there was a TV program recorded by the national TV company, TVP Polonia, on this chapel, so I could'n see the sarchophagus because it was too crovded. When I left the chapel I was told that we were not allowed to take photos inside the church, so these are the only pictures I have to show.
There are lots to see in the church, but it takes much too far to write about it all here when I can't refer to any pictures. Instead I post some links (in Polish) where you can 1) see a plan of the cathedral and 2) get the visiting hours.
Plan of cathedral.
In the latter page "Dla turystów indywidualnych" means individual tourists.
"Kwiecien – Wrzesien" means April - Sept, "Padziernik – Marzec" means October - March.
"Pon. - Sob." are abbrevations for Mon - Sat, "Niedz." is for Sunday.
The first building on the Wavel hill, a Romanesque stone building, was built in the middle of the 11th century. Remains are located in the northern wing of the present-day castle.
In the 14th century the castle was expanded by Wladislaw the Short, and his son Kaziemirz Wielki (Casimirs the Great, who grounded the Kaziemirz city).
After a fire in 1595 King Sigismund III Wasa had it rebuilt and what we can now see dates from that time.
When you visit the castle and the exhibitions you have to be aware that not all rooms are opened at the same time, the number of visitors are in some cases limited and that there might be free entrance to some of the rooms on certain days during the week. The link I have posted will help you in planing your visit. It also has a very good map of the hill.
For more pictures, please see my Travelogues.
Directions: About 600 metres south of the Old Town Square, close to river Wisla.
Phone: +48 (12) 422 51 55
The Old Synagogue in Kazimierz ranks as one of the oldest Jewish shrines in Europe. It dates back to the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. Demolished several times, both of fires and wars, it has now a Renaissance look from the outside.
The interior hosts the Jewish Museum, but I was too late to get in.
Working hours: Mo 10.00 - 14.00; Tue closed; Wed, Thu, weekends 09.00 - 16.00; Fri 10.00 - 17.00.
Entrance fee 8 Pln (reduced 6 Pln) except Mondays when it's free.
Address: Ul. Szeroka 24.
Phone: +48 (12) 422 09 62
The Synagoga Izaaka is the largest synagoga in Krakow. It was built between 1638 and 1644, funded by an enormously rich local banker, Isaac reb Yekele, who named it after himself.
It has been used as a museum for a while, but when I visited all furnishings and other things were taken away, perhaps for some kind of renovation. The only thing to see was some wall paintings which were said to have been newly discovered.
When entering the hall one could look at some photos. If you then wanted to go further in to the main hall, the girl who was sitting at a desk reading, SCREAMED "seven zloty!!!!". There were no signposts or information mentioning that there would be an entrance fee. It's OK for me to pay that little sum, but her behavior was totally out of place. If she didn't like sitting there then it was for sure not my fault. The same thing happened to eveyone coming in. She was the VERY, VERY, VERY wrong person on that place. It gave a very bad taste of Jewish culture.
Address: The crossing of ul. Izaaka and ul. Kupa.
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