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Krakow is divided into 18 neighbourhoods (districts) and each of them differs with architecture and ambience. Some of them are more or less officially marked while the citizens tend to call them by names of districts that used to exist and which usually derive from names of former towns, villages and settlements. Among the most important neighbourhoods (which are not always separate officially marked districts) one can find Stare Miasto, Kazimierz, Podgorze and Nowa Huta.
Stare Miasto (The Old Town) is one of the official districts of Krakow and includes also Kazimierz district. However, the citizens when talking about the Old Town, very often mean by this the part of Krakow that is placed within the ancient city walls. The centre of this neighbourhood is the Krakow Main Market Square that is one of the symbols of the city. The main streets of the neighbourhood (such as Florianska, Sienna or Grodzka) stretch to the walls that are surrounded by Planty City Park. The Wawel Hill adjoins the Old Town from the side where the walls used to be fully pulled down. The neighbourhood is probably the most renowned and visited by tourists part of Krakow, as it contains all the most important monuments.
Kazimierz used to be independent town separated from Krakow with the river. It was divided into Christian and Jewish part where the community would build its synagogues. This neighbourhood, not long ago one of the poorest and most damaged amongst all in Krakow, is now one of the most favourite places of locals and tourists. Numerous cafes and pubs differ from those in the Old Town. There are few typical night clubs as most of the places represent cosy, gloomy atmosphere lit with candles. Klezmer music might be heard from local Jewish-style restaurants and the flee market is open every Sunday on one of the market squares of Kazimierz. Old merchant houses, some of them still not restored, add to the atmosphere of the place.
Łagiewniki neighbourhood is situated outside the strict centre of Krakow (on the way to Zakopane). The place became popular especially among the pilgrims that visit the sanctuary (of Divine Mercy) built there as a tribute to a nun called Faustyna. The old neo-gothic monastery located there, is a place where she spent her life having visions of Jesus Christ showing the mercy towards the world. The new sanctuary contains numerous chapels while those interested in life of Saint Fastyna can still visit places where she used to spend her time.
Podgórze district is located in the vicinity of Kazimierz (on the other bank of Vistula river). Its main part is Rynek Podgorski (Podgorze Market) with a beautiful neo-gothic church of St Joseph’s. During the WWII Podgorze was turned into ghetto were Jewish community was moved from Krakow and its surroundings. Nowadays there are almost no remnants of that fact – apart from two pieces of the ghetto wall hidden within the buildings. Nearby the main part of Podgorze there is the Factory of Schindler who saved many lives of ghetto citizens and his story was filmed by Steven Spielberg. An interesting square of Ghetto Heroes (Plac Bohaterow Getta) is filled with sculptures that depicts the chairs (as pieces of furniture) left by Jews transported to concentration camps.
read more: Tour around Podgórze district
Nowa Huta was built after the WWII as a town for physical workers (mainly hired in the Steel Work Factory) and a tribute to communist regime. Socialist, monumental architecture reminds of the past of this neighbourhood. The main part of the neighbourhood is the Central Square (Plac Centralny) but many make a tour there to see the Steel Works Factory of Sendzimir. The district is recently under development as its citizens try to promote Nowa Huta by making tourist trails and tours around it. But the district is more than monumental architecture – it boasts of many precious churches – the most renowned among them is Mogiła where the Cistercian Abbey was built.
read more: The tour around Nowa Huta