Kraków is a riverside ex-capital city juxtaposed with rolling hills and gleaming buildings and has been given UNESCO world heritage status.  Kraków has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and an ancient history. From medieval castles to a seven hundred year old market square, architecture-savvy tourists will ultimately be mesmerized by their observations.

 

Sukiennice and the market square.

Originally Kraków was a walled city which consisted of 39 towers and 10 gates but the brama Floriańska is the last remaining part of this. It was the main gate guarding the northern approach to the city. On the side of the gate that faces the old town is a bust of St. Florian, the patron saint of fire brigades, putting out a fire in the old town.

 

Brama Florianska.

Another amazing sight is the barbakan, which was erected in 1498-99 to fend off the looming invasion of the Turks. It was originaly placed on an island between the two moats crossed via a drawbridge. Krakow's barbakan is the largest in central Europe and is one of only a few that has remained in tact.

Barbakan 



Kraków comes complete with it's own castle, Wawel, which served as the royal residential complex of several generations of Polish rulers, with every king of Poland buried in it's cathedral. King Sigismund I the old, imported skilled Italian and German artisans for the construction of the castle. The grandeur of the interior architecture is comparable to the outside. It is bustling with rare art, hand crafted furniture, and woodwork.

Wawel 

 

Sukiennice (cloth hall), also a Renaissance masterpiece, reveals the prominence of decorative arts and architecture in Kraków. It originally transformed from a towering Gothic edifice into a detailed Renaissance building. Today, it is rendered in the art noveau style. 

With Poland being known as a staunch catholic country, Kraków is known for it's amazing churches, with St. Mary's domianting the Kraków skyline. Where ever you are in the city look out for the spiers and you know where the old town is. It is a huge red brick building with two distinct towers which are of different height. Legend has it that two brothers were employed to oversee the building work. The younger more confident started to build a tower quickly while his elder brorther was slower and more cautious. As the younger brother's tower grew higher and less stable he was forced to make it thinner and thinner, hence the differences in the towers. 

 St. Mary's

 



St Mary's also boasts a legendary buglar, who ever hour on the hour performs the hejnał , a 600 year old tradition. Legend has it that in 1241 a watchman saw the advancing Tartar invasion and started to warn the citizens of Krakow about the impending danger by playing his trumpet. A Tartar arrowsman spotted the trumpeter and with a well placed arrow pierced the trumpeters throat in mid song. This is why the hejnal stops on a certain note.

Some of Kraków's other churches:

Św. Andrzeja

Church

Św. Bernardyna

Church

 Św. Krzyża

Church


Św. Piotra i Pałwa


  Church

Kraków's old town has some wonderful streets to explore.  Amongst the most picturesque is Ul. Kanonicza, which begins the approach to Wawel.

Ul. Kanonicza

 Don't forget your camera, as walking around Kraków will provide plenty of opprtunites for some great photos.

 

addition. Worth seeing:

The Fortress Cracow is a fortification belt form the half of XIX c. It consists of numerous objects scattered in and around the city, like tower forts, artillery forts, infantry forts and shelters, infantry and cavalry barracks, and other facilities.

Most known are St Benedict`s fort, Kleparz Fort, Warszawska Lunette, Kaiser`s Infantry Barracks (now University of Technology campus site), and there are dozens of other buildings, now used as schools, offices and commercial.

 

Old Nowa Huta (the original, oldest part) is a half-century unique urban planning and architecture relic, merging a monumental, totalitarian impression with a neoclassical architecture style. Especially beautiful in spring and summer, with it`s lush green alley`s.