Krakow was the capital of Catholic Poland until the end of the sixteenth century, when the capital was moved to Warsaw. Since 1978 the medieval old town was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Krakow is the city beloved Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, who never forgot this place, where he lived for 40 years, and often recalled with nostalgia.
The inhabitants of Krakow John Paul II would have liked, his death, was buried here, in his cathedral, along with the King of Poland, the Jagiellonian and Wasa but it did not happen, while in the cathedral were “arguably” buried, in 2010, the then President of the Republic Lech Kaczynski and his wife, died in the famous plane crash in Smolensk. A little anecdote of Pope John Paul II in 1938, was visiting the school where the future Pope studied, the Prince-Archbishop of Krakow, Adam Sapieha. Karol was to hand him the greetings on behalf of the whole school. He did it in perfect Latin. It was on that occasion that he was asked if he intended to become a priest one day, and he replied that he would never secure the archbishop did the priest, because he preferred literature.
The famous Jagellonian University, Wawel Castle and one of the largest old squares of Europe are all located in the heart of Krakow. Krakow, today is the fourth largest city in Poland, but all Poles consider the cultural capital of the country and visiting it is easy to see why: a fascinating place, rich in monuments and historical sites, museums, churches, palaces, beautiful while a concentration of restaurants, bars and clubs and cultural events of all kinds.
The city walls which are located in the central district near Stare Miasto are only about fifty meters, but the garden around the center reminds us that the path exactly once drew the defensive walls. Today there are about 4 km of walking under the trees, with beautiful views of the city, many benches and space for children. Stare Miasto, the old city, has its heart in the Market Square, the great medieval square, dating back to 1257. On one side of the square you enter the Cloth Hall, formerly the Palace of the tissues (a trading center built in the fourteenth century, restored 200 years later), now a quaint covered market specializing in arts and crafts and made the precious’ Baltic amber. Upstairs, a gallery of artwork and some cafes, including Naworolsky, purportedly a favorite of a young man named Vladimir Lenin, which began here perhaps to plot a revolution that would have made history . In the basement area of the square is home to an amazing multimedia museum that recreates life in the medieval square. To know the sights of Krakow read the page.
On the northeast side of the square Market Square stands the church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Kusciol Mariacki. Its construction dates from the fourteenth century, when he went to replace an earlier church destroyed by the Tartars. The taller of the two towers (81 meters), housed the city guard, every hour, from a window, rise to great fanfare that commemorates the death of a guard killed by an enemy arrow, in the thirteenth century, while playing to alert and warn of the arrival of the Tartars. The interior is beautiful, finely decorated and painted in many colors. Here you can admire the altar by Veit Stoss, a magnificent wooden altarpiece carved late Gothic art. It took 12 years to the artist to sculpt this altar valuable. In the square there is also the building block of the town hall and the Church of Wieza Ratuszowa San’Adalberto the Kosciol sw Wojciecha, the oldest in the city, a small domed church dating back to X century. In one corner of the square you will see a giant bronze head of a man: it is a gift of the Polish artist Igor Mitoraj to the city. A curiosity: this is a classic among local young people find themselves “at the head of bronze.” The head is blindfolded Eros, and visitors young and old alike love to get inside it and peep through the cracks of the eyes, fun for all.
There is never tired of exploring the charming streets of the city, with beautiful stone streets and stately mansions on either side. Things to see in Krakow are so many. Going north on Florianska there are many shops, some local products, where you can buy the excellent smoked goat cheese, a local specialty. West of Florianska is the Czartoryski Museum, which has its best-known work in the Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo Da Vinci, but there are also other paintings and exhibits considerable, including a collection of great value and pottery sarcophagi Egyptian. The lady in the painting is a portrait of Leonardo Galleani Cecilia, wife of Ludovico Sforza, Lord of Milan, painted around 1492. To the west of the square starts the campus with the Collegium Shift of the fifteenth century, the institute where he studied Copernicus, now converted into a museum. Krakow is home to the oldest Polish university, the University of Jagellonia, founded by King Casimir the Great in 1364, was the second university to be founded in Central Europe after the one in Prague. Krakow is still a city of students and young atmosphere is breathed in every way. There are several universities, the most prestigious is medicine, and the student population exceeds 130,000 students, then a resident of 6. No wonder then that the city enjoys an active cultural life and a vibrant nightlife.
At the southern end of Stare Miasto, Wawel is the hill where the Royal Palace and the Cathedral (pictured on right). All around the castle was fortified, and is protected on two sides by the River Vistula. Headquarters of the Polish royal family for centuries (with the tombs of kings, the cathedral), Wawel is a symbolic reference point for all of Poland. The Renaissance court of the castle was designed by two Italian architects, two young Florentine, Bartolomeo Berreci and Francesco Fiorentino. In the sixteenth century, the royal apartments were restored, especially by Francesco Fiorentino, a reshaped them according to the wishes of the king, giving the impression Renaissance structure. The State Rooms contain works of art belonging to various Polish kings. You can visit some richly decorated rooms, including the Royal Apartments, where you can see the bedroom of the king. Exceptional collection of tapestries housed in the castle, with over 130 precious French tapestries, a collection of the king who loved them because he could take them in his removal. Wawel Castle, the point of origin of the city begins the royal road to Krakow (Drug Królewska), a long drive from the hill of Wawel in fact, goes to the church of St. Peter and Paul and the convent of Poor Clares. This would run the real input and output from the castle.
The Cathedral of Krakow is also located within the perimeter of the castle. Founded in 1364, is not only a sacred building, but it is also a monument to the 45 Polish kings, buried within it (except four). Once inside, climb the stairs dark and narrow, you can admire, besides a beautiful view of the city below, Zygmunt, a bell heavier than 11 tons. Before becoming Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla was archbishop of this cathedral. Read also The Cracow by Pope John Paul II. Near the river, a metal dragon that spits fire recalls the Krak, a monster who according to legend, terrorized the Wawel Hill.
A 10 km east of Nowa Huta medieval center here (New Acceieria) the proletarian district of Krakow, the atheist utopia working area, built around the large ovens of the giant steel mills that were built here after the last war. In 1954 the great furnace began production in 1965 was expanded in the seventies to reach over 6 million tons per year of production, employing 38 000 workers. The consequences were disastrous for the surrounding environment in terms of pollution. Nowa Huta is a typical example of socialist who drew the diagrams of the Renaissance and was to signify the birth of a new man.
For those who have time and want to visit the outskirts of Krakow not to be missed is a visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The mine is located 10 km south-east of Krakow in the town of Wieliczka and is since 1978 UNESCO world heritage, is something spectacular, an underground city carved in the halls, churches, sculptures and miles of trails. Beautiful hike in the Tatra Mountains, the historic town of Czestochowa, to see the natural beauty of the National Park Ojcow sad but needed a wild card to the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Auschwitz was the largest ever built by the Nazi regime and was the site of one of the greatest tragedies in human history, should be visited by everyone. Entering Auschwitz makes a big impression on tourists and a concrete idea of the dimension of the Holocaust, the extermination of 6 million Jews from across Europe.