Travel Guides: Krakow
Krakow is one of the oldest and largest cities of Poland. Located in Upper Vistula Valley, the city port, visited with delight by more than 4 million tourists, Krakow is one of the few places where important works of art, gathered in time, have not been destroyed during World War.
Traditionally, Krakow has been regarded as one of Poland’s major cities in terms of art, culture and science. It also represents the former residence of Polish kings and is considered by many the heart of Poland, with a history of over 1000 years. Krakow is also a major tourist center, being the target of over 7 million tourists annually.
Krakow is a capricious city and is hard to resist not falling in love with its parks and its streets. The remains of the Iron Curtain (used to delineate Western Europe from Eastern Europe during the Cold War) can still be identified in the pale urban landscape illustrated by the gray areas of the city and by the identical suburbs. All of these detach their color from the lazy loops of the Wisla River that fits on the edges of the old city and the multitude of flower stalls that give life to the old center.
There are many things to be done in a weekend in Krakow than you can imagine, however, manage you should manage your time so that you can leave with a complex opinion about this university town in Poland. The name of Krakow comes from Krak, a local tribal chief, on which a legend says that after a fierce battle, killed, at the foot hill where today rises Wawelun city, a terrible dragon. The history of Krakow goes back over 1000 years, when it was certified as a residence of the bishops.
In 1364 the first university was founded here in Poland, the “University Jagellon” which formed personalities. Today, Krakow, adds to its long coat of existence the attribute of the “capital of art and youth.” In May-June, during the Days of Krakow takes place here the “Juvenalia”, a student carnival where the youth take an exam to … talent and artistic innovation.
The only big city that has escaped the devastation of World War II, Krakow has one of the best preserved medieval town centers in Europe. The Old City is declared a UNESCO monument and contains a wealth of valuable elements from different architectural periods, with magnificent churches and aristocratic palaces in the old streets, reminiscent of the glorious days when it was the residence of kings and royalty. In the heart of the city is located one of the largest markets in Europe, the Old Store Market.
The charming Old Town is a compact area surrounded by parks that form a green belt around the historic center. The main entrance was through the old city gate Floriana, initially located within the city walls, now a medium for artists and their works. With a thriving cultural life, it was home to many national writers, artists and intellectuals, and it is one of the main cultural centers in the country, Krakow is a spiritual city with personality and charisma.
On the Wavel Hill are the Royal Castle and the Royal Cathedral, the residence of Polish kings for seven centuries of history and national symbols of Poland. Also important are the Jewish roots of the city and the history of one of the largest Jewish centers in Europe can clearly see the old ghetto area of Kazimierz, and is clearly remembered in memorial to the dead of Auschwitz and Birkenau camps, in west of Krakow.
Located on the banks of the Vistula River, Krakow is a modern city, the third largest in Poland, and a university center with the oldest university in Europe. Great student population creates a lively atmosphere and a vibrant nightlife. Countless outdoor cafes and restaurants surround the main paved market. The unique atmosphere of this medieval town made it one of the most popular destinations in Poland.
The most convenient way to travel from Balice Airport (International Airport also known as John Paul II) is to take a taxi (KRK). Balice is the main airport, about 12 km west of the city center. It is the second largest airport in Poland, with frequent domestic and international flights and scheduled flights. There are several direct arrivals every day in all of Europe, including London, Paris, Glasgow, Brussels, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Belfast, Milan, Cologne, Berlin, Dublin, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Rome, Vienna and Zurich.
Services also run to Chicago and New York in the United States, there are summer flights to more destinations such as Monaco, Tunisia and Turkey. The main flight companies operating within the airport include Aer Lingus, British Airways, LOT (Polish national airline), CSA Czech Airlines, Iberia, Lufthansa and Austrian Airline. There are plenty of private airlines that operate, including EasyJet, Ryanair, Norwegian, Germanwings, Air Berlin, Jet2 and Transavia.
Alternatively, you can fly to Warsaw for a connecting flight. Jet Air offers domestic flights to Gdansk, Poznan and Szczecin (via Poznań). Trains run from the airport to ‘Dworzec Glowny PKP’ (central station) about 30 minutes, from 4:24 am, until 11:24 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the train attendant or sales from vending machines. The journey takes about 16 minutes. You can also walk to the station or use the bus service to travel from the airport.
Given the price and speed of the train, this is the best option. Numbers 292 and 208 buses run from the airport to downtown about once per hour. If you need to get to the central railway station, get off at station “Wschód Dworzec Glowny”. This bus stop is located near the shopping center Krakowski Gallery, about 100 m from the central railway station entrance (Dworzec Glowny PKP). The journey takes about 40 minutes.
Make sure you buy “crowd ticket”, such ticket is valid in two areas, and therefore the area where the airport is located. Tickets can be purchased from one of the sellers of newspapers or an automatic ticket to the bus stop. Validate your ticket as soon as you get in the vehicle.
At nighttime, you can catch the 902 line at night, traveling from the airport to downtown at 23:26, 0:56 and 2:26. Radio Taxi 19191 is the official partner of the Krakow Airport, and they accept credit card payments. Taxi output terminals are located in front of T1 and T2. Check if the device is switched on and charged at the rate set properly. Take note of the fact that the airport was out of town, so you’ll be under a tariff “outside” to get past a certain point, after which it will change. You can try to make the ride, but it is difficult from the airport. If you do not necessarily hold, go to the main road and remember to keep the entire hand outstretched.
Dworzec Glowny PKP is the central station in Krakow, and is located just outside the Old City. It is connected with other cities in Poland and the rest of Europe. Every hour, between 6:00 and 20:00, a train travel or Express (EX) or Intercity (IC) between Krakow and Warsaw, which does not stop on the road, the trip takes less than three hours. It is by far the most convenient way to travel between Warsaw and Krakow.
First class tickets are about 25% more expensive, and often provide more legroom. Trains depart the airport at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, and then starting at 7:00 leaving every half hour. A free bus is waiting at the railway station, but you will notice that most people passed him, heading towards the international terminal. The bus will take you to the international terminal (T1) but stops at the first national terminal (T2).
Trains that leave from the main railway station to the airport can sometimes be canceled without reason and without prior announcement. So, never go to plan last train to the airport with you, because it is very likely to miss the flight. International trains arrive daily from Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Bratislava, Kosice, Lviv, Kiev and Odessa, with no links with the rest of Europe. Berths to and from Poland are very cheap.
The station has a luggage service, waiting room, small cafes and shops. However, food is not the best; you better get out of the station to buy from stores nearby. There is a huge shopping center linked to the station and a few restaurants. The staff of the station is not always helpful to strangers who do not speak Polish, mostly because employees do not speak English, and you can spend more time standing in line just to tell you to join another large queue. If you’re confused, ask someone younger to help, because most young Poles speak English and are skipped. Employees at the international ticket desk speak English.
Polish government finished the A4 highway over the German border up in Krakow. This makes it very easy to go from the west. The speed limit is generally 130 km / h, and there is a road tax of 8 PLN each direction between Katowice and Krakow. Driving to and from Warsaw (300 km) is more difficult because the A1 was not finished yet. The easiest route is S7 express road, which should take about five hours.
There are services spread throughout Europe coaches operating in Krakow. However, it is cheaper and faster to fly, which will offer an appointment at least six weeks before. Travel time by bus from London, for example, is approximately 24 hours. It is quite uncomfortable, and is not recommended for anyone else besides those desperate or aware of environmental care.
Inside Poland, traveling by bus is cheaper than going by train. During the summer, there is frequently a lack of air conditioning service. Take plenty of water with you. Baltic railway links with Poland did not exist, making bus travel a more serious alternative for travelers arriving from the north.
When traveling between Krakow and Zakopane is recommended to take a bus (two hours one way) instead of train (3.5 hours one way). Buses depart every 30 minutes from the regional bus station. Once a day (except Monday and Tuesday) there runs a fast bus between Krakow and Wroclaw. The bus leaves at 15:30 and arrives in Wroclaw at 18:30.
Remarkably it remained intact during the two world wars, and having a lot of wonderful sights, it’s no wonder that this city is the most visited city in Poland. Being the Polish capital until 1596, it attracts hundreds of visitors annually by the cubic stone paved streets, churches and mosques, as well as its tourism objectives of Gothic architecture. Krakow shows countless jazz clubs, growing appetite for live music lovers both in country and abroad.
To see in Krakow:
Trinity Church – Built in 1250 by Dominican monks in Bologna, the church has lost many of its treasures when it was destroyed by fire in 1850. Rebuilt in 1872, this huge structure is now an important religious center. The image of Our Lady of the Rosary, found in the chapel of the Rosary, has healing powers.
Church of St. Adalbert – The oldest church in Krakow can be found as an orphan lost in the SE corner of the Cloth Hall, a mixture of pre-architecture, Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, all crammed into a mosaic of religious styles. The oldest parts of the building dates back to at least the eleventh century, explaining its position inside or seemingly random. St. Adalbert had its own cult following at the time, which explains how it managed to survive. A look inside is worth, especially because of its location on the floor two feet below the surface of the main square.
St. Francis – It is perhaps the most beautiful church in Krakow, because of the wonderful Art Nouveau murals inside, paintings by Stanisław Wyspiański, which balanced nicely with the organic and geometrical unique floral patterns, making this the most colorful place of worship space city. Wyspiański is also made of stained glass windows around the year 1895, including plant operations, controversial and representative, “Father God in the act of creation.” Since the thirteenth century, St. Francis was the first brick building in town, and worth a look, even from those who do not want to go to another church.
St. Mary’s Basilica – Tatar invasions in the thirteenth century have left the original church in a heap of ruins and construction began on St. Mary’s existing foundations. No matter how many times you see the altar, stained glass windows in the nave and the starry blue ceiling, are breathtaking. The magnificent altar is the result of 12 years of German artist Veit Stoß (also known as Wit Stwosz) and Assumption is among the apostles.
Around the altar are polychrome paintings found by Matejko, and Wyspiański Mehoffer.
Many local legends circulated around the basilica. The architect of the smallest tower killed his brother (who was the tallest tower architect), apparently being jealous that the structure was smaller and less elaborate. Driven by guilt, he committed suicide jumping from the roof of the cathedral.
Today, the highest tower houses one of the most enduring traditions in Krakow. Hunting horn sound heard every time the tower has its origins in an event in 1241. Spotting the invading Tartar forces on the horizon, a single firefighter began playing the trumpet to alert residents of Krakow. He was killed with an arrow in the throat, suddenly interrupting the song he was singing, but the town had woken up and defended itself. In honor of this event, seven local firemen now have tasks of that song sounds the horn every time. The first writing that mentions this tradition dates back to 1392, although a local store recently said that the whole custom was invented by an American in 1929.
Adam Mickiewicz Monument – One of the most important statue in Poland, representing the admiration that the Polish people and a national hero wears to the Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz (1789 – 1855) was unveiled in 1898 to celebrate the centenary of the birth of this great man, and, as many other symbols of national pride, was destroyed during the German occupation of World War II.
The statue that rises in today is a copy on Rynek street in 1955 after an original by Theodore Rygier and is a popular meeting place and easily recognizable. Mickiewicz was born in Lithuania (the most famous work, “Pan Tadeusz”, begins with the words “Lithuania, my country,” and it is recognized and loved by the Lithuanians as Adomas Mickevičius) and never visited Krakow up to 35 years after his death. His body rests in the vaults of the cathedral just down the road, at Wavel.
Monument of Grunwald – The Battle of Grunwald, taken from the united armies of Poland and Lithuania against the Teutonic Knights on July 15, 1410 is considered one of the biggest battles that took place in medieval Europe. A defining moment in Polish history, the battle was immortalized in Krakow with the unveiling of the massive monument to a crowd of about 160,000 people on the 500th anniversary of the event in 1910.
Original work created by Antoni Wawulski (1877 – 1919) was, not surprisingly, destroyed by the the Nazis during the Second World War and the copy that now stands in its place dates from 1976, is reproduced faithfully using the original drawings and models. The horse is found King Wladyslaw Jagiello of Poland, Lithuania, pointing with his sword in his right hand. In front is his cousin, the Lithuanian prince Vytautas (Vitold), which is flanked on both sides of the victorious soldiers of the army together. The dead man in front is Urlich von Jungingen, Master Teutonic Order, who was killed during the battle.
Museum of Archaeology – reinvigorated after a recent capital infusion, the Archeological Museum in Krakow has been turned into something really worth to go. Besides some exhibits from everyday life in the Stone Age and Malopolska during an extraordinary room dedicated to local clothing since 70,000 BC until the fourteenth century, the museum houses a permanent collection of artifacts from ancient Egypt, including some beautiful shrouds, coffins decorated a number of developed and some mummified cats. Last exhibition is the most charming with an audio guide, available at ticket purchase.
Celestat – Although it is strange, the history of the Fowler Brotherhood celebrates what is essentially a cult exclusively male hunters who wear strange hats, a baby worships silver and have their own king. There since 1565, the Brotherhood’s history consists of a series of paintings, guns, kettles, photos and Skirmish Hall inside a window with a chicken that appears as the center of the whole mystical gifts. It is unlikely to go more enlightened than you were when you entered.
Krakow History Museum – Established in 1899, the superb museum of history of Krakow contains trade, culture, politics and daily life of the city from 1257 until the end of the two republics in 1939. Unfortunately, it’s time Krzysztoforami bridge building (as St. Christopher) in the seventeenth century to house the museum to be remodeled. Thus, the permanent exhibition is now closed, except for “History of Cracow Christmas boxes” of Szopki Krakowski, which highlights this unique city, exclusive folk art tradition.
Photography Museum of Krakow – Apparently the only museum in Poland dedicated exclusively to photography; this recently renovated museum is a real treasure for fans of this art form and shows some very interesting exhibits. Lay in some rooms the size of cupboards which also host a series of temporary photographic exhibition, with some great early stereoscopic photographs, commemorating the attack on Paris in 1871, a dark room and old piles of old appliances and a beautiful collection of images Krakow’s historic.
Erazm Bishop Ciolek Palace – After a recent restoration, this fourteenth-century palace now hosts two permanent exhibitions of the National Museum: “Art in the old Poland, XII century until the eighteenth century” and “The Art of old orthodox Polish Republic.” As you have guessed, both exhibitions consist entirely of religious art before the idea of “art” to be applied to non-religious subjects.
Most come directly from their church or other area of Krakow, and are considered the most beautiful, if it suits the genre of personal, if not, will be somewhat boring. The centerpiece is undoubtedly the work of the sixteenth century, “Christ riding a donkey” – an almost life-size wooden statue of Jesus Christ stand natural eye and lost donkey harnessed to a cart.
Hippolytus House – Hippolytus was a merchant family who lived in this building refined in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, although the building dates back more than that. The interior was transformed into a series of typical houses Recreation seventeenth-century Polish bourgeoisie until the early twentieth century, and shows interest in pictures that are offered on how wealthy Poles have lived, being a showcase for some furniture truly remarkable.
National Museum in Krakow – Far from barefoot peasants imagine many cynical historians, past generations actually Polish excelled in the arts. The superb National Museum of Art in Krakow exhibits many examples of their work. Like a number of world-class temporary exhibitions, the museum also houses fine collections of art and weapons exhibition and book the entire upstairs of the twentieth century Polish art, a collection of really interesting – displaying the works of visionaries such as Kantor, Wyspiański and Witkacy – that any gallery would be more than proud to own. The museum also owns a small bookstore and a café, Tribecca.
Krakow restaurants – restaurants and bistros that offer many other quality food can be found everywhere in the city, although the central district of Krakow‘s old town seems saturated with restaurants offering food of all kinds. Here, a short distance, you find hundreds of restaurants, cafes, bistros, grills, pizzerias, salad bars. They are distributed in every possible space and the sumptuous residences of the upper or lower floors of houses typical bourgeois, and especially in those old cellars.
From spring to autumn, restaurant meals are placed in the street, where the most pedestrian district. Krakow gastronomy has a long and glorious tradition that dates back to medieval and Renaissance abundant feasts and gourmet Polish baroque extravagance. Famous restaurants in the city during the last two centuries are said strongly, although the recent decade has brought a veritable explosion of restaurants.
It is still in vogue a creative adaptation after the old Polish kitchen. Also in progress is a traditional folk revival of the kitchen. On the other hand, Far Eastern foods, once exotic, occur in abundance today. Meanwhile, restaurants in Krakow employers remain fascinated by French and Italian cuisine more than ever before.11