Tag: Krakow

Tag: Krakow

Historic Centre of Krakow

Krakow Historic Centre

Historic Centre of Krakow – updated 09 September 2022

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.

Historic Centre of Krakow

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.

Historic Centre of Krakow

Jewish quarter

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.

Underground Museum

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.

Historic Centre of Krakow

Royal Road

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.

Krakow Old Town Tours & Experiences

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka

Wieliczka Salt Mine – Updated 23 August 2022

The salt mine is a UNESCO World Heritage site located around 14km southeast of Kraków and is one of Poland’s most popular attractions, welcoming tourists since 1722.

Wieliczka

Going underground

Wieliczka is a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels, shafts and chambers, underground saline lakes, chapels with altarpieces, majestic timber constructions and unique statues sculpted in rock salt. The size of the mine is staggering, it reaches a depth of 327m and extends via horizontal passages and chambers for over 287 km distributed over nine levels. Only a small part of the mine is open to the public.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Sculptures

The oldest sculptures were carved out of rock salt by miners; more recent figures have been fashioned by contemporary artists. Even the crystals of the chandeliers are made from rock salt that has been dissolved and reconstituted to achieve a clear, glass-like appearance. The rock salt is naturally grey in various shades, so that the carvings resemble unpolished granite rather than the white or crystalline look that many visitors expect. The carvings may appear white in the photos, but the actual carved figures are not white.

Chapel of St Kinga

The highlight of the mine is a vast chamber housing the ornamented Chapel of St Kinga. Everything that you will see within the chamber is made from salt including altarpieces and chandeliers. It took over 30 years for three sculptors to complete this underground temple, and about 20,000 tonnes of rock salt had to be removed. The rock salt in the mine resembles unpolished granite and its natural colour is grey, not white as many people might expect.

Salt Mine

The older sculptures have been supplemented with new carvings made by contemporary artists.

Working mine

Historically, Wieliczka was a working mine; however due to falling salt prices and flooding, commercial salt mining was discontinued. The mine has produced salt since the 13th century and was one of the world’s oldest operating salt mines.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Salt Lake

Other highlights are the Salt Lake in the Erazm Barącz Chamber, whose water is denser than the Dead Sea, and the awe-inspiring 36m-high Stanisław Staszic Chamber.

If you’re worried about the air quality down there, great news: the mine’s special microclimate actually has a beneficial effect on asthma sufferers and those with allergies!

UNESCO World Heritage Site

378 steps

To get down to the 64-metre level of the mine, visitors must descend a wooden stairway of 378 steps. After the 3km tour of the mine’s corridors, chapels, statues and lake, 135 metres underground, visitors take an elevator back up to the surface. The elevator holds 36 persons (nine per car) and takes some 30 seconds to reach the surface.

Getting there

Getting to the Wieliczka Salt Mines from Krakow shouldn’t prove too difficult or expensive. Regular buses run from the top of Starowislna Street opposite the Main Post Office, taking around forty minutes to get there. Be warned that buses are a little cramped and we advise you check departure details at one of Krakow’s tourist information offices as these routes chop and change quite a bit. You’re best asking a friendly Pole where to get off too, as this is a public bus not a tourist service.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Tours & Experiences

Lesser Poland (Malopolskie)

Lesser Poland

Lesser Poland – updated 22 September 2022

Lesser Poland (Malopolskie) is located in south-east Poland and has the city of Kraków as its administrative capital. The region has played an important part in Polish history and once was the focal point of the ancient Polish kingdom.

Lesser Poland

Mountains

The region is very rich in natural beauty, to the north you will find the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, to the south, the Tatra, Pieniny and Beskidy Mountains and to the west is a broad range of hills.

National Parks

Lesser Poland has six National Parks and 11 Landscape Parks including: Tatra National Park and Babia Góra National Park in addition to many areas for tourism and recreation, including Zakopane, which is Poland’s most popular winter resort.

Lesser Poland

Skiing

In the winter, thousands arrive in Zakopane to ski, especially around Christmas and in February. The most popular skiing areas are Kasprowy Wierch and Gubałówka. There are a number of cross-country skiing trails in the forests surrounding the town.

Historic sites

The province also has many historic sites. The salt mine at Wieliczka, the pilgrimage town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, and Kraków's Old Town are ranked by UNESCO among the most precious sites of world heritage.

Lesser Poland

John Paul II

At Wadowice, birthplace of John Paul II is a museum dedicated to the late Pope's childhood. The area of Oświęcim, with the former Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz-I and Auschwitz-II-Birkenau is visited annually by a million people.

Lesser Poland

It is widely agreed that everyone should visit Auschwitz at least once in their lives, it is a stern reminder of the horrors that human beings can inflict on each other and for some people, a life-changing experience.

Another tourist destination is the town of Bochnia with its salt mine, Europe's oldest.

Krakow

Kraków may no longer be Poland's political capital, but it makes a strong case for being the country's cultural capital. Cited as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, its Old Town was declared the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world. According to official statistics, in 2019 Kraków was visited by over 14 million tourists including 3.3 million foreign travellers.

Tours & Attractions

Wawel Royal Castle

Historical & Cultural Sites – Wawel Royal Castle and Wawel Hill

Updated 21 August 2022

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 Royal Castle

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.

Wawel Royal Castle

Located south of the old town and next to the Vistula River, Wawel Hill showcases an incredible assortment of architectural delights including Renaissance, Gothic and Romanesque designs. Wawel Royal Castle and the Cathedral are must-see attractions and a walk around the castle courtyards and open spaces are highly recommended.

Art Museum

Today, Wawel Royal Castle is home to a superb art museum, which is well-known throughout Europe and the World because of its collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, the Sigismund II Augustus tapestry collection, sculptures, ceramics, period furniture and textiles among others.

Wawel Royal Castle

The museum consists of five individual and separate sections: Crown Treasury and Armoury, State Rooms, Royal Private Apartments, Lost Wawel and the Exhibition of Oriental Art.

Wawel Hill has a long history, which can be traced back to the year 1000 when the first cathedral on Wawel Hill was built. Since then, Wawel has experienced many different timelines ranging from its Golden era from the 14th to the 16th centuries to the start of its decline as a centre of importance in 1609; when the then King moved his court to Warsaw.

Wawel Royal Castle was the cultural and political heart of Poland during the 16th century and today, it stands as a potent symbol and reminder of the Polish national identity. Visitors to Wawel Royal Castle today will see a 16th century Renaissance palace; however, before this, it was a formidable Gothic castle; which was burned down in 1499

Restoration

Over the years, the castle has been repeatedly sacked and vandalised. Extensive restoration work has been carried out since and many of the castle’s external structures and interior decorations have been recovered.

Wawel Royal Castle Tours & Experiences

Krakow Tours & Attractions