Kraków's St. Mary's Church
The beautiful Cloth Hall ( Sukiennice) in Krakow
The Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow
Krakow’s a world-class city just becoming known to the world
With your Eurail Poland Pass in hand, when you arrive into Kraków by train, you’re arriving into history. From the Kraków Główny train station you’re only 10 minutes by foot from Kraków’s Old Town. From the station, you can stroll into the Park of Planty, a tranquil chestnut-lined pathway that leads to the medieval city gates. Once inside, you’ll find yourself on picturesque cobblestone streets lined with 15th and 16th century buildings. Keep walking until you hit the Main Square, Rynek Główny, which happens to be the largest medieval square in all of Europe. All of this, and you’re barely out of the train station.
Kraków’s Old Town welcomes visitors with a vibrant and youthful atmosphere. Plenty of attractions wait, especially at night. Pubs and bars hide in alleyways and courtyards serving local beers. As Poland’s artistic capital, you’ll find many art galleries and jazz clubs. The musical style is so beloved there’s a Jazz Summer Festival that takes place from early July to mid-August. Shows are staged in the city’s most famed clubs including Piwnica Pod Baranami where summer jazz concerts are scheduled every night.
More of a morning person? After spending the night in a comfy Krakow hotel, grab your coffee or tea at one of Kraków’s charming, and sometimes unnamed cafes. At the corner of Unfaithful Thomas Square (Zaułek Świętego Tomasza), have a cuppa with some of the city’s cognoscenti. Some of the best moments of travel is just sitting with a hot drink, meeting locals and finding out their city’s hidden gems.
One such gem is hearing the trumpet player that plays every hour from the window of Mariacki Church tower on Main Square. The tradition of the song being played from the tower is 700 years old. The melody is unfinished as if someone interrupted it. This abrupt stop commemorates the 13th century trumpet player killed by Tatar’s arrow while playing the song to warn the city about the Tatar invasion. A tribute as moving as this will make you want to call friends and family to share it with them.
There is more to Kraków than the Old Town. Wawel Castle is a 16-century castle that overlooks the river Wisła. The legend goes that the Dragon of Wawel Hill used to live beneath it and ravaged the surrounding villages until Krak the shoemaker tricked him and killed him. For this act of bravery, Krak was offered to marry the king’s daughter and it’s after Krak that the city took the name Kraków.
Kazimierz, the old Jewish section, is easily accessible on foot or by bike and has a very different ambience from the Old Town. Less crowded, the neighborhood is full of small restaurants, pubs, cafes and shops. Old synagogues, Jewish museums and cemeteries mark this very unique and different part of town. Ariel, one of the best Jewish restaurants, is located in the heart of Kazimierz, on 18 Szeroka Street.
Contributed by: Magda, PMO Manager from our Information Technology department, who backpacked through the mountains and the cities of Eastern Europe.