Many confuse Krakow with Warsaw, the capital of modern Poland, but Krakow is considered the cultural capital and is used to be the official one until 1596, when Poland was a kingdom. Krakow is located on the Northern bank of the Vistula River and the basis of this settlement is said to have been established by a brave cobbler, Szewczyk Dratewka, who fought a dangerous dragon, chased it out of the place and made it hide in a cave. That is why the effigy of Warsaw is a dragon.
It is Poland’s second largest city, with a population of over 755,000 inhabitants and, some say it is definitely the most fascinating and elegant city of Poland, with three main areas which are not to be missed: the Old Center with the old cathedrals, the memorial house of Pope John Paul II, Barbican Palace, the old market – which is Europe’s largest market -, or Rynek Underground. Fortunately, Warsaw was not affected by the ravages of World War II, compared to other cities, and it preserves a great deal of its monuments, such as the former royal Wawel castle (considered one of the most visited spots) and the reputed Warsaw University – the oldest university in Europe, among many other sightseeings that are enclosed in a circle-shaped park named “Planty”.
Afterwards you have the picturesque Jewish Quarter – Kazimierz, that looks like an open-air museum – a place of legend which inspired many fascinating novels and movies, such as “Schindler’s List”, which was actually filmed right there, on the spot, Seems that the director, Steven Spielberg, decided that the surroundings have preserved the very atmosphere of the era and it was a perfect set for his film. There, you can visit the factory of the real Schindler, the Jewish ghetto with the old drugstore and synagogue.
Another main touristic spot that you must not miss is the Castle, in fact an architectural complex made up of the cathedral built in the memory of Pope John Paul II, the citadel’s museums and the crypt of the former Polish president Lech Kaczynsky.
Kalwaria Zebridowska is known as “the Polish Golgota” and it represents an ensemble of convents and monasteries situated some 38 km north to Krakow. It is almost a small town of monastic settlements which become a part of U.N.E.S.C.O. patrimony in 1999.
The elegance of the old monuments are well-known; the Art Nouveau buildings, the Medieval churches and other such monuments will definitely awe you and remain in your memory.
But besides the cultural attraction, there are plenty of restaurants, pubs, clubs and bars, making Krakow a vivid and colourful city. Restaurants offer the visitors a wide range of possibilities, from Japanese flavors, to Italian and, of course, traditional dishes. The services are great, the prices are lower than in other parts of Europe and people are greatly hospitable and lovely.
You will definitely not get enough from only one visit!