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Click on any illustration with colored border to see it full size. Then click on "Back" button to return to this page.

Open the Photo-Tour Part 2 in a separate window, then click back and forth between the two windows, so that you can see all the pictures in the same sequence as this guide.

map We will continue the tour of the Old Town of Cracow by walking from the Market Square to the Royal Castle (Wawel) and then to the old Jewish district Kazimierz. After refreshing yourself in one of the many cafés in the Square, leave the venerable "Wierzynek" Restaurant (established in the 17thC.) on your right, the tiny 10thC. church of St.Adalbert (św.Wojciech) on your left, and walk along Grodzka Street.
As you pass the tram tracks at the open square, pause. Look to your right at the Wielkopolski Mansion which now houses the city administration. Right next to it are the Franciscan church and monastery dating back to the 13thC. In the church there are eight stained-glass windows created by Stanislaw Wyspianski, Polish artist and playwright from the late 19thC. To your left stands the Dominican church in which there are tombs of many old Cracow families.

Continue on and pass the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul fronted by statues of the 12 Apostles. You should pause at the next church - St. Andrew's - which is the oldest still functioning church in Cracow. It and the wall around it were built in Romanesque style in the 11thC. However the interior was remodeled in the late 17thC in Baroque style and is very beautiful. The Treasury has a magnificent collection of early Nativity scenes.
Here leave Grodzka street and go to the right along Kanoniczna (Canon's) street. It is lined by old 14th and 15thC houses with fine carved portals. As you round the bend you have a magnificent view of the walls and towers of the Wawel Cathedral rising into the sky.

The Royal Castle - Wawel (VAH- VELL) is the most important tourist destination in Cracow. Already in prehistoric times there was a fort on the hill, then a stone cathedral and residence was built in the 11thC. In the 13th century, King Casimir the Great enlarged it. In the 16thC. King Sigismund rebuilt the stronghold in Renaissance style. The same king bought the first of the famous tapestries in Antwerp. This is the greatest collection of tapestries in the world, consisting of 364 pieces. They are to be seen in many of the state-rooms of the castle as well as in the Cathedral. The Cathedral contains the tombs of many of Poland's early kings, as well as those of illustrious Poles such as Ignacy Paderewski, composer, pianist and statesman. The tour of the interior starts in the magnificent arcaded courtyard. Be sure to look up at the ceilings, in the Audience Chamber each square contains a different head. The Museums contain one of the richest collections of precious objects in Poland.

If the tourist is fortunate to be present during one of the numerous religious holidays, he will be able to observe a procession in which the Craftsmen Guilds, the university staff, various citizen's organizations and all the clergy walk to the Cathedral dressed in ornate historical and ethnic costumes. Such occasions include the feast-day of Cracow's native Saint - St. Stanislaw - May 8th., and Corpus Christi in early June.

Leaving the Castle walk around to the river side to see the Grotto. A popular myth claims that it was the residence of a prehistoric dragon. ContinuE your walk along the river bank, iunder the highway bridge, to the Baroque church Na Skałce (On the Rock) and Pauline monastery, its crypt contains the tombs of many Polish artists. Behind it stands St.Catherine's church considered to be one of the finest Gothic churches in Poland and was erected in the 14thC. On the corner next you see part of a still earlier church.

The walls beyond the church's garden are part of what were the original walls of the town of Kazimierz, an autonomous town built by at the same time by Casimir the Great, who had offered the Jews of western Europe shelter from the persecution they were then suffering. In 1939 over 70,000 Jews lived here. Here too the film "Schindlers List" was made, it documented their annihilation by the Nazis.
The original Remu'h and Temple synagogues still exist as well as the old Jewish cemetery. Several other synagogues have survived but now serve other purposes. The Renaissance style Old Synagogue, built in the 15thC., was the oldest existing synagogue in Europe, next to the one in Prague. Destroyed by the Germans, it has been fully restored and houses the Jewish Museum.

Finally, no visit to Cracow is complete without a visit to the National Museum located on Krasinskiego Ave, several blocks west of the Old Town. The modern building houses a large collection of Polish art.

How to get there.   The Polish airline LOT provides direct flights from New York and several European cities. Nonstop Intercity trains from Warsaw take 2 1/2 hours. There are also convenient direct trains to other Polish cities as well as Berlin, Budapest, Prague and Vienna.
Within the city, the Barbican and Florian Gate are only a five minute walk from the main railway station (Dworzec Główny) and Bus station, see the map.
Trams are the fastest way of getting around. Trams #4 and #12 go from the Station stop, along Basztowa Street as far as Szczepanska, tram #15 continues on along the west side of the Old Town to the University and the National Museum.
Several trams cut through the Old Town along Franciszkanska and Dominikanska. #18 goes to the National Museum in the west; in the opposite direction, #8 and #18 go past the Wawel, #8 continues to the Kazimierz district; #2 goes to the railway station.
Buy tickets at any newspaper kiosk, 2.20PZN each, daily unrestricted ticket 9PZN.
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Continue to Environs of Cracow.

   Tour of smaller towns in southern Poland

  Cracow Photoalbum
Very detailed guide to Cracow, building by building.
Official city web site, in English.
Great collection of reproductions of paintings by Polish and international masters.

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Copyright © 2002 B. C. Biega. All rights reserved.

Last update August 2003