"Krakow" Krakow by smirnofforiginal

Krakow Travel Guide: 4,493 reviews and 10,598 photos


For me, Krakow is one of the most beautiful cities - and I don't just mean within Poland. It was a royal capital for half a millennium, it came emerged from WWII completely unscathed, has absorbed more of Poland's history than any other city in the country and managed to guard it, within its walls.
In 1978 UNESCO included the centre of Krakow on its first World Heritage list - and once you have visited Krakow you need no explaination why!

A little history!

The first traces of Krakow date from 7th century and by the 8th & 9th centuries it was a miain settlement for the Vistulans (tribe).

In 1038 Krakow became the capital of the Piast kingdom and in the 11th century The Wawel (castle) was built.

1241 saw Tatars overrun Krakow, burning the town to the ground and 1257 saw the town rebuilt - this time using mainly stone (as opossed to wood). The "new" town was designed on a grid pattern with a large market square in the middle.

Then came along King Kazimiez Wielki - he brought good times & founded the Krkow Academy (now Jaiellonian University which has over 70,000 students - a 10th of the cities population... making Krakow the best educated population in Poland!).

Krakow flourished, especially in the 16th century (The Renaisaance period & Poland's "Golden Age") but that was to change. 1596-1609 saw the capital transferred to Warsaw, 1655 the Swedes invaded and did a lot of damage and the many invasions that followed in the 18th century saw the great city decline and eventually fall into Austrian rule.

Krakow, under Austrian rule, became the centre of Polish culture and it was also the starting point for the move to national independence which was restored in 1928.

In WWII, Krakow had a population of 260,000 - 70,000 of whom were Jews. Whilst the city was looted by the Nazis there was no major combat or bombings which is, thankfully, how Krakow managed to remain almost intact.


Krakow is a city not to be rushed. It is a charming place and the longer one is there - the more charming it becmes!

Most things are conveniently huddled within the confines of the Old Town and excursions from Krakow are easy to arrange. The receptionist at our hotel (Atrium) proved most helpful when we were arranging a car, with driver.

And the people are wonderful.

  • Intro Written Jun 8, 2007
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