What is Krakow Famous For? A Guide to Poland's Cultural Capital
Krakow is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Poland. It is also the country's cultural capital, with a rich history, a vibrant art scene, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But what is Krakow famous for? In this article, we will explore some of the main attractions, landmarks, and traditions that make Krakow a unique and fascinating destination.
what is krakow famous for
The Old Town and the Wawel Castle
One of the most famous and iconic sights in Krakow is the Old Town, or Stare Miasto, which dates back to the 13th century. The Old Town is surrounded by a medieval wall and a park called Planty. It is home to many historic buildings, churches, museums, and monuments. The most prominent of them is the Main Market Square, or Rynek Glowny, which is one of the largest and oldest squares in Europe. The square features the Cloth Hall, or Sukiennice, a Renaissance-style building that houses a market and a museum; the Town Hall Tower, or Wieza Ratuszowa, a Gothic tower that offers panoramic views of the city; and the St. Mary's Basilica, or Kosciol Mariacki, a Gothic church that boasts a stunning altar and a famous trumpet call that sounds every hour.
Another highlight of the Old Town is the Wawel Castle, or Zamek Wawelski, which is located on a hill overlooking the Vistula River. The castle was the residence of the Polish kings for centuries and is now a museum that showcases various styles of architecture, art, and history. The castle complex also includes the Wawel Cathedral, or Katedra Wawelska, which is the burial place of many Polish monarchs and national heroes; and the Dragon's Den, or Smocza Jama, a cave that legend says was inhabited by a fire-breathing dragon.
The Jewish Quarter and the Schindler's Factory
Krakow also has a significant Jewish heritage that can be explored in the Jewish Quarter, or Kazimierz. This district was once a separate town where Jews lived and thrived for centuries. It was devastated during World War II when most of its inhabitants were killed or deported by the Nazis. Today, Kazimierz is undergoing a revival as a cultural and artistic hub that preserves and celebrates its Jewish legacy. You can visit several synagogues, museums, cemeteries, and monuments that tell the story of Krakow's Jewish community. You can also enjoy the lively atmosphere of cafes, bars, galleries, and street art that make Kazimierz one of the most vibrant areas in Krakow.
A related attraction that you should not miss in Krakow is the Schindler's Factory, or Fabryka Schindlera. This museum is located in the former factory of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved over 1,000 Jews from the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware factory. The museum depicts the life and fate of Krakow's Jews under Nazi occupation through interactive exhibits, photos, documents, and testimonies. The museum also features scenes from Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List, which was partly filmed in Krakow.
The Salt Mine and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial
Krakow is also famous for being close to two other remarkable attractions that are worth visiting: the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. The Wieliczka Salt Mine, or Kopalnia Soli Wieliczka, is located about 15 kilometers from Krakow and is one of the oldest and largest salt mines in the world. It has been operating since the 13th century and has produced over 200 million tons of salt. The mine is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features an underground wonderland of chambers, sculptures, chapels, lakes, and chandeliers made entirely of salt. You can take a guided tour of the mine and marvel at its beauty and ingenuity.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, or Panstwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau w Oswiecimiu 06063cd7f5