What’s Doing in Krakow, Poland

Krakow's Rynek Główny, the largest medieval town square in any European city

By Karin Sun on 27 October 2014
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Krakow, located at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains in southern Poland and straddling the Vistula River, is the second largest city in the country with 1.4 million residents. Like Warsaw, the city is best known for its beautiful medieval architecture, Old Town neighborhood, and rich modern history.


Start your visit in Krakow’s Old Town neighborhood, or Stare Miasto, home to a number of historic buildings and landmarks. Centrally located in Old Town is the Rynek Główny, the largest medieval town square in any European city. The area boasts of several residences originally property of nobility, St. Mary’s Basilica, a Roman Catholic church originally built in the 13th century, and the Krakow Cloth Hall, a trading center dating back to the Renaissance that now houses restaurants, gift shops, and the National Gallery of Art. Don’t forget to visit Wawel, a fortified castle complex located on the left bank of the Vistula. The two main buildings within the complex are Wawel Castle, a Renaissance era structure featuring Sigismund’s Chapel and Bell, and Wawel Cathedral, a Gothic style structure that includes several side-chapels and secular buildings. DSC_0721 Next to the cathedral is the Silver Bell Tower, the oldest building in the compound and the site of a crypt where many notable Polish historical figures are interred. The statue of a fire-breathing dragon sits on the lower slopes of Wawel Hill near the river, a tribute to a well-known medieval legend about the city’s founding. Located directly south of Old Town is the Kazimierz district, which was built during the reign of Casimir III in the 12th century and has played an important role in the city’s Jewish community in modern times. The area is home to a historic market square, several Baroque and Gothic style churches, and the Old Jewish Cemetery. Also located in the area is the famed Old Synagogue, which was built in the 15th century and now houses the Galicia Jewish Museum, which documents Jewish history in the region The district today is the location of the annual Jewish Cultural Festival, which was instituted in 1988.

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