This city is over a thousand years old. For many centuries, Krakow was the place of coronation of the kings of Poland. The royal road has been preserved to this day, and it begins at the Florian Gate and leads to Wawel Castle.
Krakow – the mystique of the Old City
Krakow is one of the oldest cities and a pearl of the national cultural heritage not only of Poland, but of the whole of Europe. It is a city of Polish kings with an interesting centuries-old history and ancient architecture. The oldest part of Krakow – the Old Town – was surrounded by fortress walls, on the site of which now Planty is an original park.
One of the most prominent sights of Krakow, named after the church of the same name, is the Florianska Tower. The first mention of this building dates back to 1307. The height of this tower is 34.5 meters. On one side of the Florian Tower is the coat of arms of the Polish state – a white eagle. And on the other side is a figurine of St. Florian from 1889. Inside the tower there is a chapel named after St. Florian, as well as an ancient icon.
The central place of the Old Town of Krakow is its Market Square. For old Europe, it has quite large dimensions – 200 by 200 meters. The square was built in 1257. Its territory was divided by types of trade and included fish, bread, coal, salt and other lines. Also, major historical events took place on the square, the swearing-in of the king and executions. On the Market Square there is the building of cloth rows (Sukennitz) and the tower of the City Hall.
Wawel Castle is one of the most mystical places in Poland, with many legends associated with it. Wawel is a castle in which Polish kings lived for six centuries in a row. It is surrounded by a powerful system of fortifications, and in the center of the courtyard is the Cathedral. Wawel is located on the left bank of the Vistula River and is a symbol of Polish statehood.
Every year, hundreds of tourists come here for physical and mental healing. Everyone is looking for a mysterious stone, everyone wants to feel the positive influence of a mystical aura at least once in their life. This special place is called the Wawel Chakra. The magic stone is located in the western part of the royal castle in the courtyard of Stefan Bathory. But there is no exact pointer here, as the stone itself is not visible. But tourists do not give up and are looking for this special place. The magic stone itself is under the thickness of concrete, so it can only be felt, but not everyone can see it. Although the Wawel Chakra is very similar to a legend for tourists, only a few people knew about it until the 1930s. In addition, according to legends, this mystical power has been protecting Wawel from destruction for many centuries.
St. Mary’s Church (Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Built in 1222, St. Mary’s Church is a rather large structure that will be difficult to pass by. Nowadays, it is a Gothic building, the height of the central tower of which is 81 meters. From this tower, every morning and evening, a trumpeter signaled the opening and closing of the city gates. The interior of the church is made in baroque style, now tours are held, organ concerts are held.
The Jagiellonian University in Krakow is one of the oldest higher education institutions in the world. Having appeared in the era of the Middle Ages, the institution still holds the first place in the quality of education in Poland. The world popularity of the university was brought by the incredibly beautiful architecture of the Collegium Maius building and many of the most interesting museums on its territory. There is much to see and wonder at the Jagiellonian University. The University of Krakow became the main higher education institution in Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Children of the nobility and burghers from all over the state, as well as from Kyivan Rus, were educated here. The institution received its current name “Jagiellonian University” in the 19th century.
Shopka is a miniature version of Krakow’s architectural monuments. It has several floors, its obligatory element is the nativity scene, a reproduction of the story of the birth of Jesus. But modern masters began to complement the shops with political satirical skits. There is a shop museum in Krakow. Tens of the best exhibits of the winners of the influential competition, which has been held at the beginning of winter in Krakow since 1937, are collected here. Each shop is unlike any other – thousands of parts that light up and move. New unique shops appear in the museum every year before Christmas. Even adults are amazed by these bright designs. It takes a craftsman a whole year to make a shop out of thousands of parts. These unique works of art are included in the UNESCO list. They have been created only here, in Krakow, for two centuries.
Velichka Salt mine
Wieliczka is 8 km from Krakow. The city was founded almost a thousand years ago, and today it is popular for its salt mine. During seven centuries of operation, 7.5 million cubic meters of salt were mined here. To weigh it, imagine like 150 Titanics. Since 1996, mining has been stopped here, but the mines have not become unprofitable. Tourists are now making money. You can go underground by elevator or stairs, as miners used to go down to the slaughterhouse. The mine is continuous corridors and galleries on seven underground levels and at a depth of up to 200 meters. It’s like a 70-story building, only underground. The total length of the mine is 200 km, which is like the distance from Krakow to the Ukrainian-Polish border. But the tourist route is ten times shorter. The tour takes half a day.
In the mine, you can see how salt was mined seven centuries ago. Horses helped people to drag heavy blocks underground. Now only models remain here, the last animal was brought out seven years ago.
The largest and most unique hall here is the chapel of St. Kinga, the pearl of the mine with an area of 465 square meters. m. Not every city church has this size. The floor, walls, and ceiling are all made of salt. And even the statue of the Pope is made of salt. Connoisseurs of chamber music come here for symphony orchestra concerts. Acoustics as in legendary European operas.
Another feature of the mine is its healing properties. People come here to treat allergies, inflammation of the respiratory tract, and even asthma. The local microclimate helps restore peace and healthy sleep. The Wieliczka salt mine has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for 40 years. In 2018, 1 million 750 thousand tourists visited the mine. This is an absolute record for the entire existence of the mine.
Recipes of the royal court, bourgeoisie and academic Krakow… Local chefs surprise even the pickiest gourmets. Even street food can withstand a high gastronomic level for decades. Krakow casserole is among the most popular. The most typical casserole is half a baguette baked to a crispy crust with cheese and mushrooms, generously covered with ketchup. You can also add ham to it. It is best to eat casserole while walking through the old town. In 2019, the European Academy of Gastronomy awarded Krakow the title of European Capital of Gastronomic Culture for quality products from local suppliers and a hospitable atmosphere.