Krakow Sights

Starting as a market town in the 10th century, Kraków became Poland's capital in 1037. Until as recently as the 19th century walls encircled the Old Town; these have been replaced by the Planty, a ring of parkland, in the 1820s. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many interesting examples of architecture from that period can be found within the second ring, marked

by Aleje and Dietla streets. In the late 20th century another phase of the city's development began farther out, and it continues today.

Most major historical attractions are within walking distance in the compact Old Town, but you'll also find very interesting sights further outside the city center, including Kościuszko's Mound to the west and Nowa Huta to the east of the city center. The Wawel Hill—with the Royal Castle and cathedral—is perched between the south end of the Planty Ring and the Vistula River.

To the immediate southeast of the Old Town is the old Jewish quarter of Kazimierz. This was once a separate town, chartered in 1335 by its founder, King Kazimierz the Great. In 1495 Kraków's Jews were expelled from the city by King John Albert, and they resettled in Kazimierz. The Jewish community there came to an abrupt and tragic end during World War II. In 1941, the Jews of Kazimierz were moved first to a Jewish ghetto across the Vistula River in Podgórze, then to the Płaszów concentration camp. Most who survived Płaszów were transported to their deaths in the much larger concentration camp at Auschwitz–Birkenau. The story of the few Jews who escaped Płaszów through the help of businessman Oskar Schindler formed the basis of Thomas Keneally's book (and Steven Spielberg's film) Schindler's List.

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Krakow Sights

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  • Building/Architectural Site

Only one small section of Kraków's city wall still stands, centered on the 15th-century Barbakan, one of the largest strongholds of...

Collegium Juridicum

  • Educational Institution

This magnificent Gothic building, built in the early 15th century to house the Jagiellonian University's law students, lies on one of...

Collegium Maius

  • Educational Institution

Jagiellonian University was another innovation of Kazimierz the Great. Established in 1364, it was the first university in Poland and...

Dom Jana Matejki

  • House/Mansion/Villa

The 19th-century painter Jan Matejko was born and died in this house, which now serves as a museum for his work. Even if you don't warm...

Katedra Wawelska

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Wawel Hill, a 15-acre rocky limestone outcropping on the banks of the Vistula, dominates the old part of the city. The hill was a natural...

Kopiec Kościuszki

  • Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook

This mound on the outskirts of Kraków was built in tribute to the memory of Tadeusz Kościuszko in 1820, three years after his death.

Kościół Bożego Ciała

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

This 15th-century church was used by King Charles Gustavus of Sweden as his headquarters during the Siege of Kraków in 1655. ...

Kościół Franciszkanów

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

The mid-13th-century church and monastery are among the earliest brick buildings in Kraków. The art nouveau stained-glass windows and...

Kościół Mariacki

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Dominating the northeast corner of Rynek Główny is the twin-towered Church of Our Lady, which is also known as St. Mary's Church. The...

Kościół na Skałce

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Standing on the Vistula embankment to the south of Wawel Hill, this church is the center of the cult of Saint Stanisław. The bishop...