Krakow Historic Centre
Historic Centre of Krakow – updated 10 January 2023.
The historic centre of Krakow has been featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1978. Packed full of restaurants, museums, galleries and bars, the medieval layout of the Old Town has not changed for centuries.
Main market square
The heart and focal point of the historic centre of Krakow is its graceful main market square, the largest medieval town square of any European city.
Most visitors to Krakow visit the market square with its Cloth Hall, the Church of the Holy Mary, Wawel Hill and its Royal Castle, Wawel Cathedral with its outstanding Renaissance chapel, the Barbican and St. Florian’s Gate.
Wawel Royal Castle
Wawel Royal Castle and the limestone Wawel Hill are extremely important historical and cultural sites containing one of the most important collection of buildings in Poland. Wawel was once the seat of Polish rulers, the residence of kings and the focal point of many Polish historical events. The hill is a symbol of the Polish nation and has witnessed some of the greatest moments in Polish history. Many Polish kings have been laid to rest below Wawel Cathedral.
The Jewish quarter of Kazimierz features a wealth of Jewish heritage with its 16th century cemetery and seven synagogues of which one is now the Jewish Museum.
The historic centre of Krakow was once surrounded by a 3km long defensive wall complete with 46 towers and seven main entrances. Today only a fragment of the old fortifications remains including the Florian Gate, the Barbican and a few towers.
Beneath the city of Krakow and housed within the underground corridors of the market square, you will find a museum, which showcases how the city looked and felt during the Middle Ages complete with stone roads with potholes made by cartwheels during the 13th century.
The historic centre of Krakow is bisected by the Royal Road, the coronation route traversed by the Kings of Poland. The Route begins at St. Florian’s Church outside the northern flank of the old city walls in the medieval suburb of Kleparz; passes the Barbican of Krakow built in 1499 and enters Stare Miasto through the Florian Gate. It leads down Floriańska Street through the Main Square, and up Grodzka to Wawel, the former seat of Polish royalty overlooking the Vistula River.
Here are some common questions and answers that you might find helpful:
Q: Where is the Historic Centre of Krakow located?
A: The Historic Centre is located in the heart of the city of Krakow, Poland, surrounded by the Planty Park, which is a ring of public gardens that encircles the Old Town.
Q: When was the Historic Centre of Krakow designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
A: It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
Q: What is the history of the Historic Centre of Krakow?
A: The Historic Centre is a well-preserved example of a medieval European town. The city played an important role in the development of the Polish state, and many of its buildings have survived from the Middle Ages. The Main Market Square is the largest medieval market square in Europe and features the Gothic St. Mary’s Basilica, the Cloth Hall and the Town Hall Tower. The Wawel Castle and the Wawel Cathedral, which sit on the Wawel Hill, are also iconic landmarks of the Historic Centre of Krakow.
Q: What can I see on a visit to the Historic Centre of Krakow?
A: Visitors can explore the charming streets and squares of the Old Town, admire the many beautiful buildings and churches, and visit museums and galleries. Some of the must-see sites include the Main Market Square, Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral, St. Mary’s Basilica, the Cloth Hall, and the Town Hall Tower. You can also take a stroll along the Royal Route, which is a historical and architectural route that connect the Wawel Castle and the Main Market Square.
Q: Is the Historic Centre of Krakow open to visitors?
A: It is open to visitors year-round, but please check the official website for current opening hours and any potential restrictions.
Q: How long does a visit to the Historic Centre of Krakow last?
A: A visit to the Historic Centre can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on how much you want to see and do.
Q: Are there any special requirements to visit the Historic Centre of Krakow?
A: There are no special requirements to visit the Historic Centre, but visitors should be aware that many of the buildings and museums have limited accessibility for people with disabilities.
Q: Are there any other things to do in the area?
A: Krakow is a vibrant and culturally rich city with many things to see and do beyond the Historic Centre. Some popular attractions include the Jagiellonian University, the Kazimierz district (historical Jewish Quarter), the Oskar Schindler Factory Museum and the Wieliczka Salt Mine, which are all nearby.